Nearly 17% of your employees may be caregivers. That’s one in six employees!
And failure to support employee caregivers can cost employers ~$3000 per working caregiver! Higher health care costs, productivity losses, increased absenteeism and presenteeism, and ultimately, staff turnover — all may be consequences as employees struggle to balance the demands of work and caregiving. And that has a very real impact on your bottom line.
As benefits professionals, you know that your organization’s benefit package can be a powerful tool to attract and retain talent. Joint research by AARP and Northeast Business Group on Health (NEBGH) shows that eldercare and other caregiving benefits are increasingly important to employees — and not only for experienced workers. Millennials and Gen X’ers constitute 50% of caregivers. This is a societal issue: almost all of us will give care to someone (or need care ourselves) at least once in our lifetimes.
The need for caregiving is growing as the population ages. By 2030, demographic trends suggest a 100% increase in the number of people over age 65 versus 2001 levels. And those providing eldercare are more likely to be employed. Yet, the number of family members who may be able to provide care is expected to rise by just 25% during the same period. Fewer caregivers combined with more people needing care have healthcare professionals and policy makers alike worried that we are heading toward a “caregiving cliff.”
Why is this important to you?
In the US today, one in six employees is a caregiver for a relative or friend, and spends an average of 20 hours a week providing some kind of care. Moreover, as people remain in the workforce longer, the likelihood increases that they’ll find themselves balancing caregiving and work at some point in their careers. Regardless of age or gender (another surprising statistic: 40% of caregivers are men) , these family caregivers need employer support to stay healthy, engaged, and productive. No profession or industry is immune.
Benefits professionals are in an excellent position to shape the way organizations respond to this need, while adding tangible value for the organization. People seek out and stay at organizations that make it easier for them to balance work and life. That’s not news. Yet recent research by both the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Council of Economic Advisors reveal that relatively few workers in the US have access to policies, benefits, and programs that make it possible to both give care and work effectively. There is a huge window of opportunity to differentiate your organization and thus, improve your ability to attract and retain talent.
Perhaps most importantly, caregiver support doesn’t have to be expensive — and chances are you already have specific policies or programs that can be repackaged to alleviate caregiver needs. Your approach can also impact share price; our research shows that “a work-family human resources policy announcement is associated with a significant share price increase of 0.32 percent on the day of the announcement.” That’s real money.
AARP can help!
Caregiver needs vary; thus there’s no single way to support your employee caregivers. So where do you start? We recommend you first understand the challenges of caregiving for your business. Then, help your employees to understand what caregiving means. People don’t always define what they do as “caregiving”. Then, reframe the conversation for all staff. Notably:
- Working caregivers are no less committed to their work than other employees without caregiving responsibility
- Caregiving includes kids, elders, and other care — each of which comes with its own rewards, challenges and potential solutions
- It’s not HR’s job alone to support employee caregivers; managers must be involved — and need tools, too!
To make it easier for you to implement programs or design benefits that support employee caregivers, we’ve created a practical toolkit: Supporting Caregivers in the Workplace: A Practical Guide for Employers. It’s a comprehensive guide to help employers find ways to support the caregivers in their workforce, from no- to low-cost programs and initiatives to higher end benefits. Download the Guide at http://www.WorkandCaregiving.org/ It’s free! In addition to the Guide, AARP has several resources to help you define the programs or benefits that best support your employee caregivers. The toolkit includes a survey to assess where you are versus other organizations; that’s a great way to prompt thinking. (Access the survey via http://www.Work andCaregiving.org/survey.) In addition, the Guide includes a list of resources you can give to your employees to support them with their caregiving work. Above all, keep it simple! Select 2-3 programs to get started. Then strengthen your resources or support over time. Download our free Guide (http://www.Workand Caregiving.org/) and get on the road to supporting your employee caregivers — while retaining talent and supporting productivity!