Employer Support for Care Giving Employees
“There are only four kinds of people in this world. Those who have been caregivers, those who are caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.” Rosalynn Carter, Former First Lady
The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that in the year 2010, 54% of workforce employees will provide eldercare for a parent or parents and that nearly two-thirds of caregivers will experience conflict between demands at home and demands from employers.
Today’s employed Baby Boomers are the caregiver generation for their parents. They are finding themselves juggling care responsibilities around their employment obligations. Sometimes employees find they have no option but to take leave from work or use sick time to meet their caregiving demands.
Employers also feel the toll it is taking on their employees. A report by the AARP describes the cost to employers:
“Companies are also seeing the emotional and physical toll that caregiving takes on their workers. In one study, 75% of employees caring for adults reported negative health consequences, including depression, stress, panic attacks, headaches, loss of energy and sleep, weight loss, and physical pain.
Businesses suffer, too, by having to pay high health insurance costs and in lost productivity. That doesn’t count the promotions or assignments workers turn down that require travel or relocation away from aging relatives."
Businesses that don’t offer benefits or address eldercare wind up paying for them. A recent study by the MetLife Market Mature Institute and the National Alliance for Caregiving states that U.S. companies pay between $17.1 billion and $33.6 billion annually, depending on the level of caregiving involved, on lost productivity. That equals $2,110 for every full-time worker who cares for an adult.
The AARP states eldercare cost businesses:
- $6.6 billion to replace employees (9% left work either to take early retirement or quit)
- Nearly $7 billion in workday interruptions (coming in late, leaving early, taking time off during the day, or spending work time on eldercare matters)
- $4.3 billion in absenteeism
Typically, human resource departments work with employees on many issues that may affect their work productivity. There are programs for drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, illness, absenteeism and child care; but, help with eldercare issues is not normally provided.
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