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.

Eldercare & The Workplace: A Professional and Personal Conversation!

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

On Thursday, September 18th, Visiting Angels of Cleveland, Ohio will co-sponsor the Health Care Forum sponsored by Crain’s Cleveland Business. I mention this because I am privileged to be a panelist during one of the breakout sessions at the health care forum. The forum will take place in downtown Cleveland at the new Cleveland Convention Center from 7:00AM to 1:00PM. Preceded by networking and breakfast, the morning will begin at 7:30AM with a keynote address.

FORUM OPENING KEYNOTE PRESENTATION: “Health Care Reform: One Year Later”

• J.B. Silvers, Ph.D. John R. Mannix Medical Mutual of Ohio Professor of Health Care Finance, Professor of Epidemiology & Biostatistics – School of Medicine CWRU, Weatherhead School of Management

Visiting Angels’ Cleveland, Ohio office is also participating in a breakout panel titled Your employees, their eldercare concerns, your bottom line: What’s it Crains Health Care Forumcosting you?” This panel will be moderated by Crain’s Cleveland Business Publisher John Campanelli. I encourage you to attend and participate in this 90-minute panel that begins at 8:45AM. Below is an overview of the content that will be discussed along with the panel participants.

PANEL #1 – “Your employees, their eldercare concerns, your bottom line: What’s it costing you?”
• Eldercare costs U.S. Businesses more than $33 Billion each year in lost productivity
• How can you calculate your company’s risk?
• What resources are available to help your employees handle their caregiving duties?
• How can businesses build support systems for employees who have significant caregiving duties?

PANELISTS
• Richard Browdie, president & CEO, Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging
• Eiran Z. Gorodeski, director, Cleveland Clinic Center for Connected Care
• Kevin Johnson, managing director, Visiting Angels
• Claire Zangerle, president and CEO, Visiting Nurse Association of Ohio

As readers and subscribers of this blog know, Eldercare and the Workplace is an important topic. So much so, that Visiting Angels of  Cleveland, an independent company that specializes in providing home care for seniors, works with Caring Concierge to extend the assistance available for their clients who are caring for seniors. As a Certified Senior Advisor, and as co-owner of Visiting Angels’ Cleveland, Ohio office, I provide content and subject matter awareness to both company’s.

The health care forum will conclude with a keynote presentation featuring some of northeast Ohio’s national leaders in health care. An overview of the closing keynote presentation and the panel participants are below:

FORUM KEYNOTE PRESENTATION: “Checking the pulse: A conversation with Northeast Ohio’s health care leaders”

PANELISTS
• Akram Boutros, MD, President & CEO, The MetroHealth System
• Delos M. “Toby” Cosgrove, MD, President & CEO, Cleveland Clinic
• Terrence P. Kessler, President & CEO, The Sisters of Charity Health System
• Thomas “Tim” Stover, MD, President & CEO, Akron General Health System
• Thomas F. Zenty III, CEO, University Hospitals

I hope you will be able to attend this informative event. We look forward to speaking with you. For all of the information regarding the Forum, please access the following hypertext link, Crain’s Health Care Forum.

 

Note: Visiting Angels (at Fairhill Partners) is an award wining, full-service senior home care agency providing a comprehensive range of non-medical services. Our experienced caregivers are bonded and insured. We are in our 12th year of operation  and are honored to have served hundreds of seniors in the Greater Cleveland area and surrounding suburban communities.

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

Employer Wellness Programs — Well Worth It But Consider This!

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

As the mounting cost of health insurance continues to strain corporate and household budgets, both employers and policy makers are increasingly turning to wellness programs as a way to help bring them under control. Evidence indicates that carefully executed wellness programs can save employers as much as $7 for every $1 spent, according to a new study by the Massachusetts Business iStock_WomanWorkingWellness_PMRoundtable, a public policy group that represents top executives at some of the state’s biggest companies. Such programs can lower health care costs over the long term, but more immediate savings can come from higher employee morale, reduced absenteeism, and increased productivity and retention.

SMALL BUSINESS INCLUDED

According to a new study of more than 1,000 small-business owners by Humana and the National Small Business Association (NSBA), 93 percent of small businesses consider their employees’ physical and mental health to be important to their bottom line, and 54 percent say it’s “extremely important.” But despite that, only a third of respondents are confident they can manage employee health care needs, citing gaps in information and employee interest.

(Note: This survey defined health and wellness programs as initiatives to encourage employees to make healthier choices, such as getting preventative care, eating right and exercising.)

So what health and wellness issues are small business owners concerned about?

  • High employee stress is the number one concern for small business decision-makers, especially at smaller companies, with stress levels rating more than triple other employee well-being concerns.
  • Employees working when they are sick is second – 57 percent reported that their employees show up for work when they should be taking a sick day.

As this study shows, health and wellness programs can be a win-win situation for small businesses, fostering healthier people and healthier profits. So what’s holding small business owners back from implementing programs?

So what does it take to create an effective wellness program? The roundtable’s report examined programs and experiences of eight companies and identified elements that made them successful. They included careful planning, the ability to measure progress, and respect for the attitudes, practices, and values that make up a company’s culture. “There are best practices that could be shared broadly for folks that are thinking about doing a wellness program,” said JD Chesloff, executive director of the Massachusetts Business Roundtable.

Employers should not necessarily provide an exhaustive range of wellness options, said Kelly Dougherty, executive director of the CardioVascular Center at Tufts Medical Center and part of the group that drafted the report. Successful plans instead focus their offerings on their particular audience, she said: A workplace dominated by young men could have different needs than an office staffed largely by middle-aged parents. “The folks we talked to who really had a handle on this really seemed to understand their workforce,” Dougherty said.

Consigli Construction, for example, shaped a program that complements its competitive company culture, with group exercise classes and workplace contests that encourage employees to push each other to adopt healthier lifestyles.

Northmark Bank, on the other hand, takes a more relaxed approach at its three locations in Andover, North Andover, and Winchester. The company’s goal is to get employees out of their seats and walking around for at least five minutes every day, said chief executive Jane Walsh. Participants are recognized with stars for each day they walk and small gifts for longer streaks.

Some employees are so dedicated to maintaining the habit that they will circle the boardroom or pace the stairs when weather keeps them indoors, Walsh said. “It ends up building camaraderie,” Walsh said. “I think the company’s better for it.”

The Roundtable report also pointed to the need to quantify the impact of wellness programs.

Starting last year, Consigli Construction employees were offered up to $400 off their annual health insurance payments if they completed an assessment including blood pressure and cholesterol testing. To earn the same discount next year participants will have to show they have maintained or improved their health stats. The measurements let the 62 percent of Consigli employees who participate track their progress while giving the company solid metrics to determine whether its program is working.

“After we do this for a few years, we’ll be able to look back and take an average and see where it saves us money,” Brogioli said.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts uses data to target its wellness programs. After an initial assessment, employees are classified as low, medium, or high risk and directed to resources most appropriate to their needs, explained Cathy Hartman, vice president of prevention and wellness for the insurer. A low-risk employee might be advised on maintaining healthy habits; a higher-risk person might be counseled on increasing physical activity

But there is still much to learn about the impact of wellness programs. For one, the definition of what exactly constitutes a“wellness program” remains up in the air. The report found that some companies do no more than provide access to online nutrition and exercise tips, while others, like Consigli, have invested in comprehensive initiatives.

Further, the growth in wellness initiatives — 74 percent of employers nationally reported offering such programs in 2010, up from 54 percent in 2008 — has outpaced research into their effectiveness, Hartman said. Still to be discovered is how, why, and where specific interventions work and others do not, she said.

At Consigli Construction, the results from the first year of the health metrics program are not yet in, but Brogioli expects the numbers to show success.

“You’re getting rewarded for positive results,” he said. “Common sense dictates that it is going to be very effective.”

 

Resources:

  • SBA.gov
  • Sarah Shemkus, Globe Correspondent

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