Care Giving Across the Life Cycle for All Genders
A guest post from Jessica DeGroot, ThirdPath’s founder and president.
The shift to remote working during Covid amounted to a massive, radical experiment – allowing an unprecedented number of people to fulfill their job duties from home or locations other than the traditional office.
On our recent Thursdays with ThirdPath live podcast, I talked with Ed Frauenheim and Paula Span to explore how this experiment could also encourage us to think in radical new ways around who and how we provide caregiving.
Although Covid revealed long-standing imbalances in caregiving and domestic duties, it also shed light on the possibility of fairer, more fulfilling family roles. As Brigid Schulte and Kate Mangino wrote in Slate, many of the men who leaned into parenting during the pandemic were transformed. The authors explained, “By pushing more men into caregiving, the pandemic has also helped them see it as an important part of their identity, and they want to keep doing it.”
ThirdPath is not surprised by this. We also know, getting more men involved in caregiving has an enormous positive impact for women, our families and our workplaces.
Take for example elder care. When we normalize men’s involvement in the care of children, we also normalize men’s involvement in the care of our aging loved ones and regular participation in the care of grandchildren. It even has the potential of normalizing men’s involvement in the wider caregiving professions.
Clearly these kinds of changes would lead to significant positive impact in our larger society.
In fact, if we combine our new understanding of how work can be done more flexibly, with an appreciation that people of all genders are capable and interested in providing caregiving across the life cycle, we can also improve the lives of the people who are paid to help us with the care of our loved ones.
Ed, Paula and I talked about this during the live podcast, and illustrated it with an example from Alex Pang’s book, Shorter. One of the case studies described an assisted living facility where paid nursing assistants received 40 hours of pay, after completing 30 hours of work, so long as they were punctual and didn’t “call off” for any of their shifts.
Not only were the nursing assistants happier (128% less turnover), there were also quicker response times, less falls and skin tears, less psychoactive medication and an increase in applicants (44%).
As painful as the last few years have been, they came with the potential of a huge silver lining: more human-centered workplace cultures that acknowledged employees’ whole lives beyond the job.
Almost overnight, organizations allowed more employees to work from home, added generous policies regarding employees’ obligations as caregivers, and encouraged staffers to practice self-care.
Will these positive workplace changes last?
Ed and I both think so, and wrote about in our recent LinkedIn article, The Three Keys to Avoiding Slipping Back Into Old, Unhealthy Ways of Working.
Have a story of how the pandemic helped you do work, family or leadership differently? Send it to us at Time4Life(at)ThirdPath.org