Making work, work.
By: Megan Trask, CEO + Co-Founder of @tulabalanced
Approximately 73% of the workforce is made up of working caregivers yet benefit offerings, outside of the core health, vision, dental, etc, are not geared towards actually supporting caregivers and the ability to find better balance between their always competing roles. Why are companies not starting at the very basic foundations of supporting their team who in turn supports them? Employers assume 25% of their workforce is comprised of working caregivers. 25% vs 73%! That is a huge disconnect and is absolutely one of the biggest hurdles to evolving a workplace into one ready for the future of work and future of care. The future of work and the future of care have never been more intertwined and it is time to change the narrative and the behavior around a truly supportive workplace.
Historically companies (and not all, I recognize there are many forward thinking, people first companies and send a big, collective, slow clap out to them) have supported employees in a one size fits all approach. Offering core benefits and then if they were feeling really generous adding in some EAP and wellness programs. These are often loaded with things HR and benefits professionals have deemed to be the best solutions and often without a whole lot of research. I never understood how benefits and EAP/wellness offerings could be so out of whack since HR professionals benefit from the benefits, too, no? I’ve learned a lot in the last several months growing TULA into a benefit offering and that is that EAP and wellness packages are often pre-bundled as part of a greater HR PPO plan and not tailored to the industry, demographic of the workplace, or even just basic employee preferences. What? What’s the point of a company spending the money to incorporate benefits people won’t use, can’t find, or don’t understand? Why do employers prioritize productivity but then offer benefits that take time to use and take advantage of as well as to administer on the HR side? Why do employers look at benefits only as a cost center and not a revenue center? With the right benefits they can very much become a revenue center.
Why do I have so many questions or care so much? So many reasons and admittedly all are a bit selfish. As an employee at a demanding company there were so many benefits that didn’t really support me or if they did it actually took more time to take advantage of them and time was one thing I didn’t have a lot of. As a single mom working long hours and trying to balance my most important job of being a mom as well as leading large teams in the complex and fast paced energy world, I never, I mean never, felt like there were enough hours in the day. I was rushing to pick up my girls at aftercare and then rushing to get them to bed so I could get on my laptop for a few more hours. At work I was balancing scheduling appointments and researching camps or trips with my day to day responsibilities. I felt like my performance was subpar (and I’m being generous here) in both places. I was also incredibly hard on myself for being human and struggling to find the balance. How neat to finally have a second to catch my breath only to hang out with myself and some pretty negative thoughts.
The last four years of my career were filled with promotions and increasing responsibility, all things I had worked incredibly hard to achieve and experience but what I experienced instead was immense burnout. I was applauded and recognized for accomplishments and rewarded with promotions and verbal pats on the back like “wow, how do you do it all” or “what an amazing mom to be able to juggle everything and make it look easy” or “we know it’s not easy but you’re doing great”. Umm, thanks? I think those are meant to be compliments but why didn’t they feel like it? Because they were just words, not active support or better yet, actionable support. The loyalty I would have felt towards a company who got it, supported me with more than just words and one size fits all benefits that did, in fact, not fit me and even better, one who cared enough to ask how they could better support me (and the other working caregivers in similar situations) would have been huge! But, silver lining, those hard years were exactly what led to me leaving to create exactly what I needed, @tulabalanced, with my amazing co-founder Cody Galloway, a fellow mom who felt the struggle just like I did.
I share this story for the working caregivers trying to do it all, to the HR professionals who would greatly benefit from taking the time to get curious and ask their teams what they really need with total authority to say whatever that might be, and to companies who may be falling short as the allies their employees need, and to those who are continually looking for ways to better support the teams that support them. The reality of work has changed drastically in the last three years and will continue to evolve so let’s take this opportunity to learn from each other and come together to make work work while truly changing the future of work for the better, for everyone.