The stress of caregiving for your employees during a crisis

A woman and child work on a laptop while a grandparent looks on.

The novel coronavirus has touched every area of daily life in some way. For most, it required them to step back and not go out as much or see as many loved ones, and for others it meant stepping up for the good of their communities and families in new ways. Thus far, many have focused on the toll the COVID-19 pandemic has had on first responders, healthcare workers, essential workers and so on. However, some of our fellow citizens have not received the spotlight: caregivers.

Caregivers are more pervasive in employee populations than most employers realize. More than 1 in 10 adults in the U.S. with a child under 18 years old is also caring for a parent. Although nearly three-quarters of these adults are employed full-time, these caregivers spend an additional 3 hours a day on unpaid care, on average. That’s 21 hours a week of caregiving on top of a 40-hour job. More than 1 in 3 sandwich generation caregivers report caregiver stress, and 1 in 5 report financial stress, according to a report published by the National Alliance of Caregiving (NAC).1 Needless to say, caregiving can take a toll even in the best of times, but during the COVID-19 pandemic, there are many more challenges ahead for caregivers and an even greater risk of caregiver burnout.

Luckily, there are ways you can help. Many employers offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and other work-life services to support their employees when dealing with personal and work-related issues that increase stress and lessen productivity. The goal of these services is to help intervene and support employees so they can lessen their stress, feel empowered and supported, and improve productivity and presence at work. Caregiving—especially during the COVID-19 pandemic—requires support and resources that an EAP can help provide.

Ways EAPs enable employees to avoid caregiver burnout and maintain work-life balance

Patient advocacy. A core part of caregiving is the conversation around healthcare for their family member, which can be complicated. This service includes a team of social workers, insurance personnel and more to help support an employee’s advocacy needs.

Counseling services. Caregiving is consuming in many ways because 1 person’s focus is mostly on the person they are caring for. From dealing with highs to lows, to loneliness and guilt, counseling services can be critical in helping employees feeling connected to others and fighting drivers of isolation.

Becoming a Caregiver guide. During this pandemic, many have become caregivers unexpectedly. Having the basics written down for employees can take some of the guesswork out of the early stages of caregiving. Due to the large learning curve, a variety of topics such as finances, power of attorney, when to update colleagues, how to understand insurance coverage, etc. can be vital in giving them a sense of security during turbulent times. If you need a place to start, check out Humana’s Caregiver Guide, PDF opens new window.

Additional benefits and resources. Caregiver leave, additional PTO, subsidized childcare services, and more to help employees care for their loved ones.

If this article inspired you to offer more support for your employees who are experiencing caregiver burnout and stress, read more about the basics of Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) and work-life services


  1. “New Research Shines a Light on a Forgotten Generation - GenX Caregivers ‘Sandwiched’ Between Kids and Parents,” PRWeb, last accessed May 12, 2021,, opens new window.