Multigenerational Workforce Sharpens Employer Focus on Care Benefits
Workspan Daily
April 17, 2024
Key Takeaways

  • Support needs are universal. All four generations in the workforce agree on the need for care support from employers. A new report from found 23% of the U.S. population is or will be caring for both the young and the elderly. 
  • Employers are responding. The report also found 56% of employers are prioritizing childcare benefits in 2024 (up 10% since 2023) and 50% are focusing on senior care benefits (up 7% since 2023). 
  • Benefits elicit benefits. Employers reported family care benefits generate a positive impact on talent recruitment, retention and productivity.

As employers work to retain top talent, many are turning to family care benefits, an offering that is addressing the increasing needs of multiple workforce generations, according to a new report from The report surveyed 620 human resources leaders and 1,000 American workers across industries.

Among employers, 56% responded they are prioritizing childcare benefits in 2024 (up 10% since 2023) and 50% reported they are focusing on senior care benefits (up 7% since 2023).

Among employees, 20% stated they have left a job because their employer didn’t provide family care benefits.

“This isn’t surprising. Sources have been saying for the past couple of years that the proportion of employees in the workforce who have at least some caregiving responsibilities is as high as 3 in every 4,” said Gage Stille, national solutions leader and senior vice president of corporate health practice at Segal.

Employers should consider using an ecosystem approach to meet the diverse needs of their caregiver employees, he said.

“Employers want to do more than just help an employee find care or take time off for care,” Stille said. “They’re thinking about flexible work scheduling technology, adjustments in return-to-office policies, preferred purchasing programs and emergency childcare. They are also looking into onsite or near-site infrastructure to support nursing, virtual babysitting, in addition to the more traditional models of in-home subsidized caregiving.”

The Multigenerational Impact

Childcare is a higher priority for millennials and Gen X, and senior care looms larger for Gen X and baby boomers, but the lines are increasingly blurred. According to the report, 23% of the U.S. population is or will be caring for both the young and the elderly, and the percentage of those caring for the elderly is nearly uniform across all four generations.

“There is need for additional support for those in the sandwich generation who find themselves caring for children and their aging parents,” said Tracy Bade, director of health, equity and well-being at WTW. “This population has even more difficulty balancing caring for themselves and others, is dealing with complex emotions, can feel isolated and experience a higher risk of burnout.”

Caregiving also takes a toll on the bottom line. According to research, lack of adequate and affordable childcare costs U.S. employers $23 billion a year in recruitment, retention and productivity challenges, while inadequate resources for those caring for the elderly and chronically ill cost employers another $44 billion a year.

More than 60% of these workers feel the quality or timeliness of their work suffers, or that they cannot take on additional job responsibilities, Stille said. In fact, 70% of working caregivers have had to call out from work for at least one day, and 59% had to take two or more days off work for caregiving duties, according to the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers.

Additionally, these caregiving duties often disproportionately affect women and minorities.

“Caregiving support that is promoted and targeted toward groups in the workforce with elevated needs can be seen as a tangible element of progress in a DEI program,” Stille said.

Tailor Caregiver Benefits to Your Workforce

Factors such as familial and cultural norms, life stage, level of income and characteristics of an employee’s environment can affect what kind of caregiving support is most important, Stille said.

“It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach,” he said. “Consider that the communities where workers live greatly affect what caregiving approaches will work.”

Employers can consider approaches such as concierge-type vendor solutions and lifestyle spending accounts, WTW’s Bade said.

“Concierge-type vendor solutions offer caregiver support beyond care services and address demands of everyday life, such as meal delivery, financial services, home safety and transportation,” she said. “Lifestyle spending accounts can be used to meet [the] diverse needs of all employees. Specific to caregiving, they can provide a subsidy for care, memberships to care services or other expenses caregivers commonly incur.”

Paid caregiver leave is an additional consideration, Bade said.

Employers in the report said childcare benefits had a positive impact on talent recruitment (81%), retention (80%) and productivity (82%); similarly, senior care benefits had a positive impact on recruitment (76%), retention (76%), and productivity (78%).

Bade said employers should take a comprehensive approach and consider caregiving from different demographic aspects — for instance, with focuses on children, adolescents, aging adults, those who are neurodiverse, those with a chronic condition and those who are pet owners. She said results can occur by “ensuring a family-supportive culture and offering equitable caregiving and well-being benefits.”

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