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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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.

One Response to Workplace Impact of Caregiving Employees

  1. Pingback: New Study Encourages Employers to Prepare for Working Caregivers « Eldercare and the Workplace

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