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Support for UCOP staff, particularly caregivers, during COVID-19

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly around work/life balance, emotional well-being and physical health have been extremely challenging for everyone. UCOP leadership is working to support employees during this time through a number of resources and programs. The UCOP Culture and Connectivity Initiative is front and center on efforts to further employee engagement and wellness. And, due to a passionate staff member’s outreach to seek help for her colleagues, additional efforts are underway.

Identifying an opportunity to give back

In July, Director of Treasury Philomel “Phil” Peña, read an article in the Wall Street Journal about how women may see long-term damage to their careers due to increasing caregiving responsibilities during the pandemic. As a member of the President’s Advisory Committee on the Status of Women (PACSW) and mother of four, the topic resonated deeply with her. “My children are all teenagers now (ages 15-19) and very self-sufficient. I can’t even imagine juggling their needs and my work simultaneously if they were a lot younger. The burden would be unsustainable,” says Phil.

Phil began diving deeper into the pandemic’s impact on women. “I found the data to be significant and impactful — and I believe that we need to support our colleagues who are impacted during this time,” says Phil. She discovered that people who are responsible for caring for children and other family members have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic, as many are juggling working from home and caregiving responsibilities, with little relief.

According to the Mental Health Index, of professional parents working from home in early April, 1 in 3 working mothers were their family’s primary caregiver, compared to 1 in 10 working fathers. This additional responsibility correlates with higher levels of emotional distress in women — by early June, just 19% of men (with and without kids) reported being at least mildly distressed, compared to 34% of mothers and 30% of women without children.

Phil shared the WSJ article with Yvette Gullatt, chief diversity officer, and Francesca Galarraga, organizational consultant, UCOP culture, engagement and diversity. That call helped to identify opportunities to provide additional assistance and support for UCOP employees that may be experiencing increased demands on their time due to caregiving responsibilities or other factors that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.  “The research Phil did was something everyone needed to hear,” Francesca noted. “We want to encourage all of our employees to advocate for each other in whatever way possible. Sharing this information is important for all of us to remember to balance competing priorities.”

Existing and upcoming resources to support UCOP staff

Assistance is needed at every level of our organization as each of us grapples with the effects of the pandemic on home and work life, especially in the areas of health and wellness. Those who are caregivers need additional support to manage the disruption and stressors that impact their home and work lives. UCOP will continue to develop resources for people managers — from executives to first-line supervisors — to help them in providing vital assistance for employees especially during stressful or crisis situations.

This is an ongoing effort. We will continue to roll out more resources as they become available. Looking ahead, keep an eye out for a pulse survey that will assess the areas in which employees are most impacted by the pandemic so that we can direct our efforts appropriately.

Please take advantage of the resources listed below and reach out directly to the UCOP Culture and Connectivity team – your outreach and engagement is vital. 

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