Employers Can Help Employees…and Help Themselves When it Comes to Eldercare!

by Kevin K. Johnson, Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®

Part 1 — The Problem Employees Face

I thought I’d use a multi-post format to talk about how employers can avoid not only lost productivity costs, but also avoid employment discrimination issues that could arise from employees that are family caregivers. Here in Part 1, I’ll shape the issue.

You’re at work. You receive news that your mother just fell and broke her hip. What do you do? As a Senior Care Advisor who helps  adult children care for their aging parents, this is a typical scenario I receive from an employee at a client company.

Here’s the key. If the employee doesn’t have someone like Caring Concierge to call, they’re going to close their office door and make call after call during the work day. Employees are often feeling overwhelmed as caregivers. They are trying to get educated on their options; trying to learn the ‘industry’ of eldercare, usually from scratch, and all while under duress. Various versions of this scenario play out everyday in the workplace. This is what causes the +$30 billion in lost productivity that employers in the United States absorb every year as a result of employees and adult caregiving.

With one call, we are able to work with an employee to provide eldercare education and to give them options that will bring about informed decisions regarding the care for their loved one. We help with developing a plan of  care. This saves the employer from incurring so much lost employee productivity.

It’s linear! Family caregiving responsibilities at home can lead to negative consequences at work. According to the “Caregiving in the U.S. 2009” survey, 68% of family caregivers of adults age 50 and older report making plans to support their care recipient while at work. Workers with eldercare responsibility report the kinds of workplace effects that open up employees to discrimination. These include, arriving to work late, leaving work early, or taking time off during the day to provide care. These together comprise approximately 64% of the issues. Approximately 17% take a leave of absence, while another 9% reduce their work hours from full-time to part-time. An estimated 10% of the family caregivers in this survey  actually quit their jobs to give care or choose early retirement in order to support their eldercare recipients.

To a U.S. employer based that has been right-sized to optimize costs and efficiencies. these numbers are absolutely staggering. This is true when considering the blue-collar work force or the white-collar work force.  

Next Post — Part 2: Family Responsibilities Discrimination

Reference: AARP Public Policy Institute

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