Workplace Impact of Caregiving Employees

Written by Kevin K. Johnson

No matter how focused or dedicated to their job an employee may be, the need to provide caregiving services for an elderly loved one be it mother, father, grandparent, etc…, will almost always take precedent over all else; over critical projects at work, over business deadlines, over professional advancement, well,…you get the picture! For most people the need to provide eldercare for their parent will circumvent most other high priority issues even their critical job. To quantify this point, MetLife reports that in 2006 alone, employers lost approximately $3,430,263,991 due to employees tending to caregiving issues.

EMPLOYEES AS CAREGIVERS

With the ‘graying of America’ upon us, no company can avoid productivity issues associated with employees who have to provide caregiving for elder loved ones. In fact, because employees are directly affected, businesses are now directly subjected to the ‘sandwich generation’ issues of their employees. Not only are their employees having children (as has always been the case), more and more employees are also responsible for providing some degree of Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s) for their elder parents. This can cause employees to experience incredible stress. It also means that employers, who have ‘right-sized’ as much as possible, are significantly impacted if even one of their employees is not able to give 100% to their work due to distractions or tardiness or absence brought about by any reason including senior caregiving.

Just as employers found it beneficial to develop and implement solutions for employees having children, today’s reality is that employers will have to develop and implement solutions for employees who have to provide eldercare for their senior loved ones.

EMPLOYEE/EMPLOYER CAREGIVING ISSUES — Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s)
For employers that may not know, let’s fill in the blanks regarding the issues involved with providing eldercare. Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s) is a term given to a broad range of capabilities that define the level of independence or conversely the amount of care required by a senior. ADL’s define the relative independence of seniors. ADL’s include bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring, continence, and feeding. In short, can the senior do these things for themselves. There is an analytical approach used to determine and score ADL’s along with a quantifiable sub-categorization of associated tasks required for independence.

As the name implies, ADL’s are daily and ongoing requirements as opposed to occasional tasks. Therefore, employees that have to assist with a parent’s ADL’s are burdened on a regular basis. This is what leads to the loss in productivity that the employee experiences and the organizational efficiency loss that the employer unfortunately absorbs, oftentimes unknowingly. Whether an employee arrives at work late, leaves work early, experiences additional fatigue while on the job, requests flex time, or applies for a leave of absence, the employer is significantly impacted. Often, the work productivity loss has become quite severe by the time the employer becomes aware of the issue. Think of the financial impact that has already taken place.

QUANTIFYING EMPLOYER LOST PRODUCTIVITY
In an earlier posting I provided a few telling statistics. Here’s a few more statistics provided from The MetLife study “Productivity Losses to U.S. Business”, that define the extent of the issue from the employers’ perspective.

Employee Involvement
Consider these workplace factoids.

  • The average age of the caregiver for a person over the age of 50 is only 47 years old.
  • Nearly 40% of caregivers are men.
  • Nearly 60% of those caring for an adult over the age of 50 are working; the majority of those work full-time.
  • The estimate is that over 7 million employed caregivers are working full-time providing more intense care for someone over the age of 18.
  • In 2006, 10% or 280,421 men missed on average 12 work days per year, while
  • 18% of women or 757,136 missed on average 33 days a year.

Economic Impact on Businesses — Absenteeism

  • The estimated 280,421 men who missed work to attend to caregiving issues cost employers approximately $491,921,602,
  • The estimated 757,136 women who missed work to attend to caregiving issue cost employers approximately $2,938,293,389.
  • In total employers lost approximately $3,430,263,991 due to employees tending to caregiving issues.
  • Employers lost another $824,512,465 due to partial absenteeism associated with caregiving. This includes coming in late to work and leaving early and being unable to make up the time.
  • Finally of these overview numbers, employers lost an estimated $2,832,971,162 but to presenteeism; costs due to workday interruptions.

EMPLOYER ACTION
A number of proactive companies, some of which were leveraged for the data stated in this posting, have begun to provide solutions that their employees can access when senior caregiving issues arise. More progressive companies have gone further. They have also incorporated solution sets to help their employees plan for their own care needs when they become seniors. Ironically, in the process of attending to the immediate and urgent eldercare needs of their loved ones, many employees discovered that they were totally unaware of eldercare needs; that they had been making no plans to proactively address their own eventual senior care. Solutions are best when provided by subject matter experts in the area of eldercare and not generalists. Employers generally implement bundled solutions and not one-off solutions. However, few bundled solutions exist when it comes to the broad and complex area of eldercare services.

Future posts will address employee eldercare needs and help employers consider how to approach this issue.

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Women Struggle More with Work/Life Issues

Written by Kevin K. Johnson

Statistics quantifying the depth of the problem employees face in providing caregiving needs are finally becoming more prevalent. The following information was recently posted on plansponsor.com.

A North Carolina-based work-life benefit provider has found that women are three times more likely than men to spend at least 25% of their time at work on caregiving responsibilities.

The Workplace Options’ poll of 998 workers indicates women are more likely to see a negative impact in their work due to caregiving responsibilities (25%) in comparison to men (17%). In addition, women are also more likely to suffer from stress (39%) than their male counterparts (27%).

According to a press release, nearly half (48%) of adult caregivers are employed full-time. While 63% of workers considered benefits such as flex time, telecommuting, and counseling to be important in balancing work and personal responsibilities, more than half (53%) are employed at companies that do not offer such benefits, and another one in five workers are not even aware if such benefits exist at their workplaces.?

The survey found 78% of workers say family is their top priority. Only 12% claim themselves as the top priority, and 10% indicate work is their top priority.

Working Caregivers — A Dilemma for Businesses

Written by Kevin K. Johnson

To paraphrase a quote attirbuted to Rosilyn Carter “you either are a caregiver, you will someday be a caregiver, or you will someday need caregiving services“. 

This has never been more evident than in today’s complex world where we face the pressures of work and careers; the joy and challenge of raising our families and running our households; and often the pressure of providing care for aging parents and loved ones. With parents and in-laws in their late 80’s, I well know this burdon, the personal strain caregiving creates.

PERSONAL TOLL
According to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), more than 13 million people juggle these two huge responsibilities. Being a caregiver comes with a high burdon and an equally challenging price. From higher levels of depression and anxiety to coping with feelings ranging from despair to apathy, the emotional toll is significant. Physical pains such as headaches and back pains are common. Together, the emotional and physical stresses can increase a person’s risk for heart disease, cancer, diabetes and arthritis according to the Family Caregiver Alliance.

AMERICA’S BUSINESSES
Naturally, there’s a huge impact for U.S. businesses. The National Alliance for Caregiving estimates that those with eldercare responsibilities cost employers $13.4 billion a year in excess medical costs. The NHPCO found that lateness, absenteeism, employee turnover and loss of efficiency add up to $25 billion in lost productivity. The financial impact is staggering.

The bottom line: Caregiving is a vital business issue. Employers lose output and face increased health care costs. Employees lose jobs, opportunities for advancement, and in many cases, their health.

Help is available for both the employee and the employer. One good source is the Caring Connections program (http://www.caringinfo.org/). Created by the NHPCO, it gives working caregivers tips, from advice on managing finances to creating a safe home environment for an ill loved one. It also provides guidance for all employees to support someone who is grieving. For employers, there’s a guide to work life programs and policies, suggestions on helping employees cope after a serious event, and even how your company can deal with grief when an employee dies.

Another good source is Caring Concierge, http://www.caringconcierge.com/ in Cleveland, OH. Caring Concierge is a risk management company providing employers with solutions to address business productivity loss caused by employee lost time hours resulting from the crisis of adult caregiving.

Without a doubt, working caregivers need and deserve support. Fortunately, more and more employers are understanding the productivity loss they are experiencing as their employees are thrust into the role of caregiving.

  • Excepts from Crossroads Hospice, in Tulsa, OK
  • Kevin K. Johnson is Managing Director of Caring Concierge, http://www.caringconcierge.com/ in Cleveland, OH

Working While Caring for a Relative — An Incredible Burden

This referenced article is yet another “typical” example of the challenge of balancing career with the necessity of providing care for our loved ones.

http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2010/09/caring_for_relative_holding_a.html

The New Conversation Topic at Work

Written by Kevin K. Johnson

I invite you to transfer workplace conversation and questions to our blog on the issues of “Eldercare and the Workplace”. I’ll be posting regularly at a minimum addressing this issue and viable solutions for employees. 


There was a time when idle discussions among colleagues at work were focused on kids, sports, and family vacations. More and more, working people are discussing issues associated with parents, grandparents with the topic being caregiving. There was a time when the term “caregiving” was used to describe unpaid relatives or friends who support people with disabilities. More common today, caregiving still involves unpaid relatives or friends providing support. But rather than supporting people with disabilities, we are supporting elder parents and other relatives that can no longer fully care for themselves. Perhaps they can no longer drive a vehicle, walking may be problematic, or dementia Alzheimer’s may be appearing and having debilitating consequences requiring caregiving intervention.

Whatever the case, the application of the term ‘caregiving’ has been expanded in a major way, now very much associated with the broad area of care for seniors. Largely this is due to the age progression of the ‘baby boomer’ generation. Approximately seventy-six million American babies were born between 1946 and 1960. It’s been said that “by the sheer force of its numbers, the boomers were a demographic bulge which remodeled society as it passed through it.” While most of the discussion about boomers center around their impact on the society, my view is that boomers throughout that demographic are being impacted by their need to provide caregiving to parents, grandparents, and other older loved ones. The care of senior citizens certainly is not new. But the very size of the boomer demographic means that the issue is getting more attention that in the past. Additionally, leading age boomers, those oldest of this demographic, are beginning to need caregiving services. This guarantees that the issues regarding eldercare will be prominent for many years to come. The size of the baby boomer demographic also means that solutions be they process or product will be created, refined, and deployed throughout our society.

The impact on employees in the workplace is becoming clear. According to MetLife, nearly 60% of those caring for an adult over the age of 50 are working. There is no gender bias as 40% of caregivers are men. At least 60% (6 out of 10) employed caregivers reported that they had made some work-related adjustment as a result of their caregiving responsibilities. Further, an estimated 9% of the caregivers who were employed actually left the workplace as a result of their caregiving responsibilities; 3% took early retirement; and an additional 10% of the employed caregivers reduced their hours from full-time to part-time.

With the noted impact on employees, MetLife estimates that in 2004, caregiving responsibilities accounted for $3.4 billion dollars in employer absenteeism cost. Partial absenteeism, coming in late to work and leaving early, cost employers approximately $825 million.

Having been one of these employees, I’ve now assembled solutions to assist employees that find themselves in this situation. This is a pervasive issue affecting so many people. Just today, commentators during golf’s Tour Championship mentioned that golfer Kenny Perry would likely be cutting back on his tour appearances due to the challenges of caregiving for his parents.

Join the conversation, share your story, ask questions, and get answers that can help you with the issue of “Eldercare in the Workplace”. You can also contact me directly at kevin@caringconcierge.com.

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