Why is caregiving relevant to employers?

It’s hard to understand how much of an impact caregiving will have on businesses because baby boomers are just beginning to retire. In order to understand how businesses will be affected, we need to first understand how many individuals will become caregivers.

In 1997, AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving teamed up to research the impact of caregiving in the U.S. They found that about 22.4 million households they contacted provided some sort of caregiving, and of this, 51.8% of these individuals were employed full-time[i]. In 2009, AARP conducted this same research, and there were 42.1 million caregivers. Of this number, 58% are employed either full-time or part time[ii]. According to MetLife, the number of caregivers has tripled in the past 15 years. That is an incredibly high number of caregivers, and, with this number tripling, many businesses will be affected by this.

How does all of this impact employers? In AARP’s Report, “Valuing the Invaluable: 2011 Update,” they found that nearly seven in ten, or 69%, of caregivers have to make work accommodations because of their caregiving responsibilities. These work place accommodations include things such as working from home, creating a more flexible schedule, staying late to make up missed hours and using sick time for caregiving responsibilities.However, these work place accommodations do not always provide the best type of support for caregivers.

While these changes can provide caregivers with more time to attend to their caregiving responsibilities, they do not address some of the emotional stressors involved with caregiving. In addition to being confusing and overwhelming, caring for an ailing or aging loved one is extremely emotionally taxing. As a result, caregivers work at the office can be impacted by anxiety, depression, fear and some of the other emotions associated with caregiving.

According to AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving, caregiving can directly affect productivity in six ways:

Replacement costs to cover employees who quit as a result of caregiving responsibilities
Presenteeism costs 
The costs associated with work day interruptions
Costs as a result of eldercare crises
The costs associated with supervising employed caregivers

What can employers do? Employers can support their employees through specific programs, such as WeCare+, that are designed to guide caregivers through this process. In addition to providing resources, we will provide guidance and support after conducting an on-site needs based assessments. A field clinician will then follow up with the caregiver and their family to provide support and guidance. To learn more about WeCare+, visit our website here: http://www.longtermsol.com/programs/wecare

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