Elder Care in the Workplace — Calculate Your Company’s Loss…Then Manage Your Company’s Risk

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

From time-to-time, my research uncovers great perspectives that help illuminate the challenges associated with “Eldercare in the Workplace”. Dan Henry, Chief Human Resources Officer at Bright Horizons, ran the numbers on elder care as it relates to employers and their employees. In September of 2014 he stated the following.

adding up figures concept with modern white calculator in officeSome numbers just hit you over the head. This is how I felt when I read a Gallup poll the other day called the Cost of Caregiving to the U.S. Economy. The study breaks down the cost of elder care in this country. Here are two of the highlights:

  • One-in-six employed Americans are caring for an elder or disabled relative
  • Each of those people miss an average of 6.6 days each year

Thatƒ’s a pretty significant number all by itself. Then I started to do the math. In a company of 1000 people, one-in-six employees missing an average of 6.6 days annually add up to a loss of more than 1,000 days every year. Thatƒ’s 1000 employees who have elder care responsibilities x 6.6 missed workdays = 1,100 lost days.

Calculating Future Business Losses

That kind of time loss isnƒ’t just days — itƒ’s years. So if youƒ’re running a business with 1,000 people, youƒ’re paying literally the equivalent of three years in lost time every year because people have unsolved elder care challenges. And that was just in 2011. The U.S. Census Bureau says our population is aging, which means the number of people caring for aging relatives is only going to go up. Our own Modern Family Index tells us many employees are seeing elder care in their future.

Sobering Statistics for Employers

For employers, these are sobering statistics and proof that elder care is not just a personal problemƒ’itƒ’s a business problem. Like any other trend ƒ’ technology, demographic, scientific ƒ’ itƒ’s altering the business landscape. And smart employers are looking at it exactly that way ƒ’ pragmatically. Theyƒ’re saying to themselves that to preserve their bottom lines theyƒ’re going to have to approach it head on. Theyƒ’re leading a trend of programs that offer both guidance to employees about how to sift through all the options and also actual, tangible care.

The Importance of Solving for Elder Care

The other aspect to this equation that canƒ’t be ignored is the positive performance effect. Being ƒsandwichedƒ between generations is hard. Taking care ofRisk Management children and elder relatives is hard. Taking care of an elder relative and working is stunningly hard. People who get support from the people they work for (in this case, with elder care) are gratefulƒ and relieved. They pay their employers back not just by showing up, but by being great employees. Elder care responsibilities are a fact of life. Numbers donƒ’t lie. That one-in-six number says your company is going to be affected, no matter who you hire, where youƒ’re located, and what business youƒ’re in. Itƒ’s yet another reason conversations about working families are taking on such urgency. Families arenƒ’t only children. As Ellen Galinsky told NPR IN 2014, ƒ”We may choose to have children but we donƒ’t choose to have parents.ƒ” That makes addressing this challenge good business no matter how you look at it. Because itƒ’s a simple equation: solve for elder care, or watch literally years of hard work go down the drain.

Well said Dan! Helping businesses mitigate this risk is what we do here at Caring Concierge. We have been doing it for years and we’ve been able to assist companies large and small.

Determine Your Company’s ‘Sobering Statistics’

Take a moment to apply the ‘one-in-six’ formula above and you can get a feel for how your company is impacted with respect to employee missed workdays due to elder care issues. Then give us a call. Caring Concierge can help to greatly reduce your companies exposure and enable your employees to confidently and proactively address their elder care issues.

I wish each and every one of you a healthy and successful 2015!

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Survey Shows Elder Care a Growing Concern for Adults Balancing Work and Family!

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

Perhaps it is a sign of age! Not only did 2014 seem to fly by, but each year now seems to come and go faster than ever before! I’m happy to see another year coming and I continue to look upon December both with reflection of the year that was, and with optimism for the year to come.

If you’ve been reading my blog over the years you know that I like data and that I like to report out on what the data tells us. That said, according to a recent study ofAnalytics_iStock_000016503756XSmall_1  more than 5,000 U.S. workers, mid-career employees have become  increasingly dependent on employer-sponsored back-up eldercare  programs. This increase in demand for elder care mirrors the increase in the number of people providing care to an aging relative – more than  40 million people had responsibility for an elder’s care in 2012,  according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  The Lasting Impact of Employer-Sponsored Back-up Care, a study conducted by Horizons Workforce Consulting and Russell Matthews, PhD, assistant professor of psychology at Bowling Green State University, confirms that working men and women  ages 40 to 60 are embracing elder care supports in order to focus and  remain productive at work while feeling confident that their aging  parent – or spouse – has access to quality care.

Sandwich Generation employees, those who care for their aging parents while also supporting their own young children, are particularly impacted. Roughly one out of every eight Americans between the ages of 40 and 60  fall into this group, according to the Pew Research Institute, and  between 7 million and 10
million Americans are providing care for their aging parents from afar with little or no back-up support in the case of an emergency.

“The tensions of child care, eldercare, and work make the Sandwich  Generation most prone to acute caregiver stress.  Not only are they  overwhelmed trying to balance their careers with the demands of  parenthood but also with the responsibility of caring for their own  aging parents. “Having access to  quality back-up care for children and adult relatives can go a long way  toward alleviating stress for these employees and reducing absenteeism  and loss of productivity for their employers” according to David  Lissy, Bright Horizons Chief Executive Officer.

In fact, a recent study surveyed employees who used this type of program within a 6 month period. Of the respondents with adult/eldercare responsibilities:

  • Two-thirds are providing daily living support for an adult relative.
  • Three-quarter are providing health-related supports for their aging family members.
  • Nearly 100% said that having an eldercare benefit like the Back-Up Care  Advantage Program has provided them with a level of comfort and  increased their productivity.
  • Nearly 70% of those surveyed who used the eldercare benefit said that this  benefit has allowed them to work on a day they would have otherwise  missed, and, on average, having access to adult back-up care has allowed employees to work six days in the past six months that they otherwise  would have missed.

If you are like so many companies in the U.S. that have not provided for some form of eldercare assistance for your employees, then make 2015 a year of action. Your company and your employees will greatly benefit from this action. Remember, employers in the U.S., including your company, have an aggregate loss in worker productivity in excess of $33 billion every year directly attributed to employees having to address elder care issues.

Generations @ Christmas1aHAPPY HOLIDAYS TO YOU ALL

Please reference my blog post from December of 2011 titled Home for the Holiday’s … Gather Critical Information on Your Aging Parents, and my blog post of December 2012, Home for the Holiday’s — Time for an Assessment! I believe that each contain timeless information that you should reference with respect to your aging loved ones. Each of these blogs are less focused on employer/employee issues of lost productivity resulting from the urgency of adult caregiving. Instead, they ask that each of us pay special attention to their older loved ones during this time of the year when family visits are so prevalent.

Ebola—What to do!

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

Because of the severity of the Ebola virus, I am posting this information on each of my blogs.

The re-emergence of the Ebola virus has caused a global health care concern. As of this post, cases of iStock_Ebola_PMEbola here in the United States have caused us to re-examine our overall preparedness with a ‘real-time’ health emergency. It is no surprise that rumors and inaccurate information is running rampant.

Our recommendation for accurate and up to date information, is the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Click on this link, http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/index.html, to learn more about the disease and what you need to know about Ebola.

So what do we do? The CDC has developed quite an extensive checklist for healthcare providers titled, Health Care Provider Preparedness Checklist for Ebola Virus Disease. Although the information is geared mostly to the hospital setting, there is a lot of valuable information that can be used in the workplace setting as well. Under the additional resources section is a link to the Public Health Emergency site where you can register for webinars on the subject and subscribe to stay informed. The CDC checklist can be accessed via the following link:  http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/pdf/healthcare-provider-checklist-for-ebola.pdf and the Public Health site via http://www.phe.gov.

If you have employee related questions or are unsure how to handle a specific employee situation, such as: an employee returning from travel abroad, questions about their return to work, or more questions of this nature, consult your attorney. He or she can guide you on appropriate H.R. policy for your state.

What Can Management Do…Consider Revisiting MBWA!

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

From time-to-time, I’m asked to facilitate “lunch and learn” sessions at companies that list us (Caring Concierge) as a benefit resource to their employees. These are excellent sessions for employees to learn how to get prepared for ‘what’s coming’ with respect to adult caregiving or to ask questions about what they are currently trying to manage with regard to eldercare for an aging loved one.

Recently during one of these sessions, I had a senior manager ask me a great question. To paraphrase, he said, “in light of the reluctance of many employees to reveal that they are having adult caregiving issues that are distracting them from their work, how can management help their employees with eldercare issues”. He specifically referenced my comments that many employees are reluctant to share these issues with their employers. I asked him to consider the following.

EMPLOYEE BENEFIT INTRANET — It may seem like a ‘no-brainer’, but some companies do not place benefit resources in the most convenient locations for employees to reference them. Some of the ‘best practices’ I’ve seen include using an internal intranet that employees can reference. It must be kept up to date, and the company intranet must not be allowed to be a ‘passive resource’. Companies have to continue to make sure that it is up current, and that their employees are notified of new opportunities which they might avail themselves. So many employees forget to look internally, at company provided resources, when a crisis arises simply because they haven’t seen these resources since their “New Employee Orientation” session!

iStock_Lunch&LearnSession_PMCompanies should regularly create opportunities such as ‘lunch and learn’ sessions, to keep their employees aware of the assistance resources that are available for them to leverage when necessary. So many companies have benefit resources available for their employees, but spend very little effort in making sure their employees are aware of their existence along with how, why, and when to use them. I believe employers can reduce employee lost productivity by keeping available resources fresh in the minds of their employees.

MBO and MBWA — In management theory and practice, there are a number of methodologies used to task employees and evaluate their outcomes with respect to company goals. Management by Objectives (MBO) remains one of the most prevalent; it is both personally and organizationally focused. However, I believe the best managers still employ a form of an older, less direct method that we used to call “Management by Walking Around” (MBWA). With MBWA, managers kept abreast of work progress by regularly interacting with their direct reports at their assigned work locations. It’s value was not only in knowing the progress of work assignments but it also gave managers the perfect opportunity to interact with the employee in a less formal manner. It was during these ‘walking around’ sessions that sometimes personal issues would come to light. In other words, MBWA often facilitated a ‘deeper’ manager-employee relationship whereby personal issues or crises in the lives of employees would emerge. This was management’s window into reminding employees of benefits that are available to help.

My point is that in our current down-sized/right-sized-high efficiency work environments, by and large, MBWA has gone by the way-side. Nevertheless, incorporating some method of indirect communication with employees is a great way for management to know what’s going on and to remind them of resources that your company might already have available. Together, these are great approaches to reducing lost productivity in the workplace. This includes the+ $33 billion per year that employers in the United States lose directly resulting from employees addressing adult caregiving issues.

Employers: Improve Employee Loyalty in the Post ACA World

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

As the Affordable Care Act was coming on line last year, I spoke to a number of employers who suggested that the health benefit plans they offered to their employees were really instruments of competitive advantage. These employers felt that their employees selected to work for their respective company’s, in part, based upon the quality of the health care plan. I thought that was extremely interesting. In my experience, the only employees that actually compare benefits prior to applying to or accepting a job, are those employees that had to address a ‘special-needs’ situation in their immediate family. By far this is a much smaller subset of employees.

Well with the running implementation of the Affordable Care Act, employers might consider another benefit that will provide real value to the majority of their employees. This one has application to a broader employee base and can provide comparative competitive advantage versus other companies that might be competing for great employees.

Addressing the Primary Needs of Working Caregivers

Managing both work life and family life has become a major issue for a large and growing number of family caregivers and their employers. With the aging of the Baby Boom generation will come a dramatic increase in the long-term care needs of our population. As policy-makers consider our options for meeting these needs, supporting working caregivers takes on national importance.” – Margaret Neal and Donna Wagner

There are four areas of need that have implications for structuring workplace settings and providing support for caregivers:Exhausted Business Woman_PM2

  1. Flexibility
  2. Information and assistance
  3. Emotional Support and
  4. Tangible assistance

FLEXIBILITY
Employed caregivers routinely note the importance of both flexible work hours and being able to take unscheduled time off to handle caregiving responsibilities when needed. A recent study of working “sandwich generation” couples (e.g. those raising depending children and caring for aged parents) found that couples who felt they had work schedule flexibility experienced less work-family conflict. Work schedule flexibility and other work-based supports offered by employers to their employed caregivers have generally been perceived positively on the part of the caregivers. This, in turn, has led to increased loyalty and satisfaction with those employers.

INFORMATION AND ASSISTANCE
The needs of employed caregivers vary according to the care situation and the needs of the care recipient. Regardless, however, just as do their non-employed counterparts, employed caregivers need information on the community services that are available to support the needs of elders. Most caregivers of elders have had little or no previous experience either with providing care to an elder or with negotiating the aging services system. Thus, information about caregiving, health conditions, and where to turn for help is a critical need for employed caregivers. Because of the complexity of many elders’ health care situations, employed caregivers, like other caregivers, can find it difficult to know even what is needed, let alone decide which service approach is best for their elder. Professional expertise can be invaluable for assessing the elder’s needs, providing referrals and advice, determining eligibility and payment options, and packaging the needed services.

EMOTIONAL SUPPORT
Emotional support for employed caregivers can come in the form of support from co-workers and supervisors at the workplace, support from other family members, and support from friends. A recent study found that, not surprisingly, lower levels of family related supervisor support were associated with higher levels of work-family conflict. Similarly, a less supportive workplace culture was also associated with work-family
conflict.

TANGIBLE ASSISTANCE
Employed caregivers need help with legal, financial, and health insurance matters and the paperwork associated with these. Helping an elder manage the paperwork associated with his or her medical care is a daunting task. Similarly, securing and completing the legal forms for durable power of attorney, wills, reverse mortgages, and the like can be frustrating and time-consuming.

Adding assistance with eldercare benefits that apply to most of your employee base can provide real competitive advantage versus other companies that are competing for great employees; including employees that are currently on your staff. In the process you can differentiate your company from your competition in a way that is really important to your workforce. Caring Concierge can help you create an affordable, elder care benefit program that makes sense for your company.

Referral: University of Wisconsin

The Causes and Costs of Absenteeism in the Workplace — Part 2

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

Over the past few years, our blog has discussed in detail, issues associated with lost productivity resulting from employee absenteeism that is brought about by elder caregiving. But what are other ‘common’ causes of workplace absenteeism? This is Part 2, the concluding information we wanted to present with an accounting of lost productivity in the workplace by occupation; a different look that we hope you find informative.

Risk ManagementCosts of Lost Productivity

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index surveyed 94,000 workers across 14 major occupations in the U.S. Of the 77% of workers who fit the survey’s definition of having a chronic health condition (asthma, cancer, depression, diabetes, heart attack, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or obesity), the total annual costs related to lost productivity totaled $84 billion. According to the survey, the annual costs associated with absenteeism vary by industry, with the greatest loss occurring in professional occupations (excluding nurses, physicians and teachers); the 14 occupations and corresponding costs of lost productivity are shown in chart below.

Newsletter Graph_05Feb14According to Absenteeism: The Bottom-Line Killer, a publication of workforce solution company Circadian, unscheduled absenteeism costs roughly $3,600 per year for each hourly worker and $2,650 each year for salaried employees.

The costs can be attributed to many factors including:

  • Wages paid to absent employees
  • High-cost replacement workers (overtime pay for other employees and/or temporary workers)
  • Administrative costs of managing absenteeism

Other indirect costs and effects of absenteeism include:

  • Poor quality of goods/services resulting from overtime fatigue or understaffing
  • Reduced productivity
  • Excess manager time (dealing with discipline and finding suitable employee replacements)
  • Safety issues (inadequately trained employees filling in for others, rushing to catch up after arriving as a replacement, etc…)
  • Poor morale among employees who have to “fill in” or do extra work to cover absent coworkers

What Employers Can Do

  • Absenteeism is an especially difficult problem to tackle, because there are both legitimate and poor excuses for missing work – and it can be challenging for employers to effectively monitor, control and reduce absenteeism. Unless a company requires a written excuse from a doctor, for example, it can be difficult to determine if an employee is actually sick when missing work. At the same time, however, it is important for employers to consider the added costs associated with a sick employee who spreads an illness   that gets the whole division – or a lot of customers – sick.
  • To address problems like this, some companies, cities and states have moved toward a mandatory paid sick leave policy, where each employee receives a specified number of days each year to use when sick.
  • Opponents of mandatory sick leave argue that it will ultimately cost businesses more money and lead to increased layoffs. In addition, opponents have concerns that employees will use all their sick days whether or not they need them.  Advocates of such a move, however, argue that paid sick leave makes economic sense because it will help stop the spread of communicable diseases in the workplace and in schools – resulting in fewer instances of absenteeism in the long run – and that sick employees will be able to recover      sooner.
  • The Centers for Disease Control, for example, states that paid sick leave could have an especially significant impact in the food service industry, where it estimate that sick food handlers are responsible for 53% of norovirus (a particularly nasty form of stomach virus) outbreaks. – One sick food handler could theoretically infect dozens or even hundreds of people, resulting in a large number of absences that could have been avoided if that employee had simply stayed home. Unfortunately, workers often either need the money or are worried about being terminated for calling in sick – even if it’s unpaid leave – so they go to work even if they know they are contagious.

In an effort to reduce absenteeism, some companies offer incentives for going to work, such as earned time off or lotteries for workers who do not have any unexcused absences within a certain period.

Other firms might try a more proactive approach, putting policies in place to focus on responses to employee health concerns, including:

  • Physical health
  • Psychological health
  • Work-home balance
  • Environmental health
  • Economic health

The logic with this approach is that healthier, happier employees will be more able and motivated to go to work each day, resulting in increased productivity and higher morale for the individual workers as well as the entire team. Although these employee wellness strategies may be expensive to implement and maintain, they can have a net positive effect on a company’s bottom line – and that’s good for business.

The Bottom Line

Absenteeism costs U.S. companies billions of dollars each year in lost productivity, wages, poor quality of goods/services and excess management time. In addition, the employees who do show up to work are often burdened with extra duties and responsibilities to fill-in for absent employees, which can lead to feelings of frustration and a decline in morale.

Occasional absences from work are inevitable – people get sick or injured, or need time during business hours to handle personal business. It is the habitual absences that are most challenging to employers, and that can have the greatest negative effect on co-workers. Because missed work days have a profound financial effect on a company’s bottom line, it is beneficial for most businesses to implement strategies to contain absenteeism.

Absenteeism due to employees focused on eldercare costs U.S. employers over $33 billion per year. The absences are often uncontrollable making it extremely difficult for employers to successfully manage and control their outcomes. Here at Caring Concierge, our risk management work is designed to minimize the impact on the workplace associated with employees who have to also work through the demands of providing eldercare for senior loved ones.

 Forbes, July 10, 2013

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CARING CONCIERGE eNEWSLETTER — Readers of our blog ”Eldercare and the Workplace” may be unaware that we also have a monthly newsletter. Our electronic newsletter, simply titled “News from Caring Concierge” has been produced every month for the last 2 years. Its contents consists of articles and related resources regarding workplace productivity as it relates to the conservatively estimated +$30 billion aggregate cost lost to U.S. companies every year as their employees are challenged to address adult caregiving issues. If you would like to be included in our growing list of companies that receive this monthly eNewsletter, just send an email titled “Caring Concierge Newsletter—Subscribe” to me at kevin.johnson@caringconcierge.com. I’ll simply add you our distribution list. Should you wish, you can easily unsubscribe and please know that we never share your contact information with any other entity.

Assess Your Company Against the Data!

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

It is thGenerations @ Christmas1ae end of another year and I truly hope it has been a good one for each and every one of you.

First, I’d like to refer you to my blog post from December of 2011 titled Home for the Holiday’s … Gather Critical Information on Your Aging Parents, and my blog post of December 2012, Home for the Holiday’s — Time for an Assessment! I believe that each contain timeless information that you should reference with respect to your aging loved ones. Each of these blogs are less focused on employer/employee issues of lost productivity resulting from the urgency of adult caregiving. Instead, they ask that each of us pay special attention to their older loved ones during this time of the year when family visits are so prevalent.

Secondly, when speaking with employers or writing our newsletters and blogs regarding the +$30 Billion in lost workplace productivity attributed to adult caregiving, I usually provide information based on specific research that I’ve uncovered. I’m closing my last blog post of the year with additional factoids and ask that you examine your workplace accordingly.

UNDERLYING DATA — Sixteen percent of the U.S. civilian non-institutional population age 15 and over (39.6 million people) provided unpaid eldercare in 2011 and 2012.  Eldercare providers are defined as individuals who provide unpaid care to someone age 65 or older who needs help because of a conditioiStock_data_PMn related to aging.

During the 2011–2012 period, 17.4 percent of women provided eldercare, compared with 14.7 percent of men.

The eldercare provider rates for Whites and Blacks were 16.6 percent and 15.8 percent, respectively. For persons of Hispanic or Latino ethnicity (who may be of any race) the rate was 10.4 percent.

Overall, 16.7 percent of workers provided eldercare. Part-time workers did so at a higher rate (18.1 percent) than did full-time workers (16.3 percent); those not employed provided eldercare at a lower rate (15.2 percent).

People without children at home and parents with children age 6 to 17 (and none younger) provided eldercare at higher rates (17.3 percent and 16.8 percent, respectively) than parents with children under age 6 (9.0 percent). Those with a spouse or unmarried partner present provided eldercare at a higher rate (17.3 percent) than those without a spouse or partner present (14.6 percent).

Among persons age 25 and over, those with higher levels of education spent more time caring for those over 65. Among those with a bachelor’s degree and higher, 19.1 percent provided eldercare and among those with some college or associate degree the rate was 18.8 percent. High school graduates and those with less than a high school diploma provided eldercare at lower rates (15.9 percent and 9.0 percent).

Findings from the 2011-12 surveys:

  • Of the 39.6 million eldercare providers in the civilian non-institutional population, the majority (56 percent) were women. Eldercare providers are those who provided unpaid care to someone over the age of 65 who needed help because of a condition related to aging.
  • Individuals ages 45 to 54 and 55 to 64 were the most likely to provide eldercare (23 and 22 percent, respectively), followed by those age 65 and over (16 percent).
  • On a given day, nearly one-fourth (23 percent) of eldercare providers engaged in eldercare. Eldercare providers who were ages 65 and older and those who were not employed were the most likely to provide care on a given day.

Percent of population who were eldercare providers

Thank  you 2013! We trust you found our blog postings informative and actionable. We look forward to working with more employers in 2014 to implement our risk management practices. These practices are designed to minimize workplace lost productivity from employees that have to tend to the eldercare needs of their aging loved ones.

We wish you a great year-end holiday season!

These data are from the American Time Use Survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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