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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About Caring Concierge
Caring Concierge is a risk management company providing employers throughout northeast Ohio with solutions to address business productivity loss caused by employee lost time hours resulting from the crisis of adult caregiving. The Caring Concierge model provides these solutions at no cost to employers. One motivating issue that inspired the creation of Caring Concierge is the personal challenges I've faced juggling work and trying to manage eldercare issues associated with the care and well-being of my elder parents. My efforts in the eldercare issues also extend to volunteer service. I proudly serve as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Fairhill Partners (www.fairhilpartners.org), in Cleveland, OH., a non-profit organization focused on lifelong learning, intergenerational relationships, and successful aging. In addition to academic degrees in Mechanical Engineering (undergraduate) and Business Management (graduate), I have earned the professional designation of Certified Senior Advisor.

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