Working Briefs

Working Briefs

April 27, 2005

Advocacy group for caregivers says employers can help

As challenging as it is for at-home caregivers, when you also are trying to hold a job - it's even more stressful.

"Elder caregivers often devote up to 70 hours a week caring for family members and loved ones," said Susan Heinz, founder of Agate Associates in Mason, Ohio, which specializes in empowering family caregivers. "Therefore, it comes as no surprise that caring can wreak havoc with the physical, emotional and psychological well-being of caregivers."

According to Heinz, a recent study published by Ohio AARP shows that 37 percent of 403 employed caregivers surveyed say their biggest problem is "finding time for themselves." Also high on the list of serious problems are managing stress and guilt and balancing responsibilities.

Agate has introduced a program it calls "Caregivers in the Workplace," to help employers and employees cope with this situation.

According to Heinz, employers can play a big role in reducing stress for employees with such demanding family responsibilities. She urges business to identify the caregiving issues of their workers, analyze their needs and develop affordable solutions.

Study finds young affected by parent work schedules

How parents work has profound repercussions for families and children, according to a policy researcher for the Work and Family program of the New America Foundation in Washington.

Another conclusion by Shelley Waters Boots, who works for the foundation: "Americans' children are paying a heavy price for the ways in which their parents are required to work."

Boots bases her analysis on the findings of a recent study of workplace issues she did for the foundation titled The Way We Work: How Children and Their Families Fare in a 21st Century Workplace.

What affects children most directly are such things as the number of hours their parents work, schedules and the stress and demands of a job.

Among the findings: Lack of flexibility in the workplace has been linked to depression among women, which directly and adversely affects children. But 60 percent of employees do not have the option of flexible hours.

Compared with 30 years ago, parents work an additional one month of full-time work - and long hours often produce negative attitudes in the workers and negative behavior in their children. Also, 20 percent of all U.S. employees work evenings and weekends, which might lead to higher rates of divorce and disruption for their children.

Spanish called most useful 2nd language in business

Even in an age of globalization, many Americans take a provincial view toward business communication: The world speaks English, right? Yet many U.S. companies are stressing the importance of learning new languages to facilitate commerce, efficiency and business relationships.

But which is considered most useful? Spanish, by far, according to a survey of nearly 1,500 business executives last month. Sixty-one percent pointed to Spanish as the most useful in their jobs, followed by Chinese, selected by 16 percent.

French ranked third (8 percent), followed by German (7 percent), Japanese (6 percent) and Italian (2 percent).

The survey was conducted by TheLadders.com Inc., a New York-based job search site for executives in the $100,000-plus annual salary market.

The Chicago Tribune and the Associated Press contributed to this article. The Chicago Tribune is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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