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

Defined Contribution Benefits Model — Don’t Forget Advance Care Planning!

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

With the introduction of health insurance exchanges and full implementation of the Affordable Care Act by 2015, ‘change’ is the operative word in employer-provided benefits. Many employers are moving to a tool called a “Defined Contribution (DC) Benefit Plan”. From Wikipedia, a defined contribution benefits plan is a type of retirement plan in which the employer, employee or both make contributions on a regular basis. Individual accounts are set up for participants and benefits are based on the amounts credited to these accounts (through employer contributions and, if applicable, employee contributions) plus any investment earnings on the money in the account. Only employer contributions to the account are guaranteed, not the future benefits. In defined contribution plans, future benefits fluctuate on the basis of investment earnings. The most common type of defined contribution plan is a savings and thrift plan. Under this type of plan, the employee contributes a predetermined portion of his or her earnings (usually pretax) to an individual account, all or part of which is matched by the employer. In the United States, Internal Revenue Code specifies a defined contribution plan as a plan which provides for an individual account for each participant and for benefits based solely on the amount contributed to the participant’s account, and any income, expenses, gains and losses, and any forfeitures of accounts of other participants which may be allocated to such participant’s account.

Employers say the top two reasons for contemplating a switch to DC benefit models are to lower health care costs and to offer their employees more choice in the allocation of tiStock_RetirementPlanning_PMheir benefit dollars (59% and 40%, respectively). Employees report they would allot 75% of their benefit dollars to health, dental, and vision coverage, leaving 25% for other coverage’s such as voluntary life, disability, accident, and critical illness insurance. Even with this allocation by employees, 42% of brokers feel the shift to DC plans will lead to an uptick in sales for voluntary products.

“While employers struggle to fund increasing health care costs and more look to shift to DC plans, employees will realize a higher level of choice when it comes to benefits selection and aligning their benefit dollars with personal priorities,” said Jim Gemus, senior vice president, Products, Prudential Group Insurance. “Carriers and brokers have an opportunity to ramp up employee awareness and educational efforts in order to help ensure employees fully appreciate the value of the voluntary benefits available to them.”

I am an active participant in National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD) which takes place April 16th. The goal is to inspire, educate & empower the public and providers about the importance of advance care planning. As employers pivot to DC Benefits model and the like, it is crucial that advance care planning (Advanced Directives) be included as an element of a sound employee benefit plan portfolio.

ADVANCED DIRECTIVES

All adults can benefit from thinking about and planning for what their healthcare choices would be if they are unable to speak for themselves.  These decisions can be written down in an advance directive so that others know what they are.  Advance directives come in two main forms:

  1. A “healthcare power of attorney” (or “proxy” or “agent” or “surrogate”)  documents the person you select to be your voice for your healthcare decisions if you cannot speak for yourself.
  2. A “living will” documents what kinds of medical treatments you would or would not want at the end of life.

iStock_SigningWill_PMOHIO ADVANCE DIRECTIVE
The Ohio Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care lets you name someone, called an agent, to make decisions about your medical care—including decisions about life-sustaining treatment—if you can no longer speak for yourself. The durable power of attorney for health care is especially useful because it appoints someone to speak for you any time you are unable to make your own medical decisions, not only at the end of life.  Your durable power of attorney for health care becomes effective when your doctor determines that you have lost the capacity to make informed health care decisions for yourself.

The Ohio Living Will Declaration is your state’s living will. It lets you state your wishes about health care in the event that you become terminally ill or permanently unconscious and can no longer make your own health care decisions. Your Ohio Declaration becomes effective when your doctor determines that you have lost the capacity to make informed health care decisions for yourself and you are terminally ill or you are permanently unconscious.

The Organ Donation Enrollment Form allows you to register your organ donation choices with the registry, so that your organ donation wishes will be followed, even if your declaration cannot be found.

These forms do not expressly address mental illness. If you would like to make advance care plans regarding mental illness, you should talk to your physician and an attorney about a durable power of attorney tailored to your needs.

There are other advanced planning vehicles including ‘trusts’ that should be considered however, the basic elements of the advanced planning portfolio are what I’ve covered above. This is important and I urge every employer, every employee, in fact, every adult, to proactively address advanced planning today for the sake or yourselves and your families!

 

 Thanks to contributions from Prudential Financial and Employee Benefit News

 

The Multi-Generational Workplace

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

Here’s a different view of productivity in the workplace. In 2013, I hired a sharp new employee, a Millennial, a member of the Gen Y age group, into my small office. That’s when my education began!

First, the generally agreed upon cohort definitions.

Gen Z 2000 – Present
Gen Y 1980 – 2000
Gen X 1965 – 1980
Baby Boomers 1946 – 1964

Employers and established baby boomer employees are experiencing the challenges associated with today’s multi-generational workforce. The backend of the workforce, made up of Baby Boomers, have been steady and reliable. The front-end of the workforce, made up of Millennials’, have fewer of the boomers’ or the Gen X, perspectives on work and productivity. Employers, including me, are having to do reassess ‘established management norms’ in order to gain an understanding of this age cohort.

Business executives in a meeting and making use of a laptopMillennials and baby boomers grew up very differently. They experienced different things and were raised in a different way. So it’s really no surprise that they feel differently about what happens in the workplace.

Dan Schawbel, in a “Time Moneyland” article,  looked into a new study by MTV called “No Collar Workers.” The study looked at Gen Y’s perspectives about the workplace and careers and how their views differ from that of their parents’ generation, the baby boomers.

 

Here are a few major differences Schawbel identified from the study:

1. Millennials require your immediate attention. To me, this finding is dead on! “Millennials grew up texting and using Facebook and Twitter. They’re grown accustomed to instantaneous connection and nearly immediate responses each time they Tweet or post. In the workplace, they expect the same environment. They want to be able to ask questions and get career advice all the time; in the survey, 80% of Millennials said they want regular feedback from their managers, and 75% yearn for mentors. “Parents were more like mentors to them and now they expect managers to be too,” says MTV’s Shore. For the most part, Millennials aren’t fans of having to wait six months or a year to get a formal review of their work. Boomers, on the other hand, are more likely to prefer a structured system where feedback is given at certain times of the year. Instead of seeking constant feedback, boomers prefer to take the “Give me my objectives and get out of my way” approach.”

2. Millennials work when they want to work. “The 9-to-5 workday is fading as the standard, and the change is at least partially being driven by Millennials. Research shows that 81% of Millennials think they should be allowed to make their own hours at work, compared to only 69% of boomers. Whereas more boomers feel the office environment and the traditional workday is the best way to get the job done, Millennials prefer a flexible approach, including the right to be remote workers who go into the office only sometimes, or perhaps never. They maintain that as long as the work gets done, the amount of time spent in the office shouldn’t matter. In the MTV poll, 70% of Millennials also said that they need “me time” on the job, versus 39% of Baby Boomers.”

3. Millennials want casual Fridays almost every day. “The study found that 79% of Millennials think they should be allowed to wear jeans to work at least sometimes, compared to only 60% of boomers. An overwhelming 93% of Millennials say they want a job where they can be themselves at work, and that includes dressing in a way that makes them comfortable. Boomers, on the other hand, are more prone to believing in the importance of maintaining a standard professional look in the workplace. It seems as if Millennials also prefer casual attire because they don’t separate their personal and professional lives in the same way that baby boomers do.”

4. Millennials aren’t all about the money. “Half of the members of Gen Y surveyed said they would “rather have no job than a job they hate.” Among the top options for job desirability, “loving what I do” outranked salaries and big bonuses. If not money, what do Millennials want most? The vast majority (83%) are “looking for a job where my creativity is valued,” while more than 9 in 10 Millennials are “motivated to work harder when I know where my work is going” and want supervisors, managers, and executives to listen to their ideas. “Millennials walk into the CEO’s office to tell them how to fix things,” says Shore. The MTV study found that 76% of Millennials think their boss could learn a lot from them, compared to only 50% of boomers. Generally speaking, Millennials want to feel as though they’ve been heard, and that their opinions and insights matter.”

5. Millennials really like transparency. “A report by LifeWay Research shows that transparency was one of the four characteristics Millennials wanted in a leader. Think about it: Parents of Millennials talked about everything in front of their children, from finances to sex, so Millennials are comfortable with the same approach from businesses and managers. Millennials want to feel like they are part of a community at work—nearly 9 in 10 want a workplace to be social and fun—and have a genuine desire to listen into organizational strategy sessions. Instead of being a small cog unaware of any larger mission, Millennials like being in the loop regarding their company’s vision, and how it is going to innovate to stay ahead of the curve.”

6. Millennials see the work environment as flat. “Vineet Nayer, the CEO of HCL Technologies says that Millennials “have little interest in hierarchy and are not particularly impressed by the titles and positions within the traditional pyramid structure.” Growing up, Millennials all received trophies in sports leagues regardless if they won or lost, and they probably had parents who would patiently listen to them and take what they had to say into consideration before making family decisions. In the workplace, Millennials see no reason for a strict hierarchy. “They find hierarchies difficult to understand because they didn’t grow up with it,” said Shore. An “ideocracy” should reign in the workplace, most Millennials believe, in which everyone should be heard from and the best ideas win out, regardless of who has been on the job longer, or who has a corner office.”

Right now there are about 80 million Millennials and 75 million baby boomers in the US, according to the article. It also said that by the year 2025, three out of four workers in the world will be members of Generation Y.

Today, more employers are adapting to their Baby Boomer employee’s needs regarding adult caregiving issues. The flexibility required to do so will likely pale in comparison to the workplace model shift brought about by the ‘culture’ of the Millennials. Overall, the boomers have produced at a significantly high level over a sustained period of time; they’ve earned the flexibility. Many employers are finding that Millennials are asking for far more workplace flexibility, and they want it NOW!

By the way, my first Millennial hire did not work out. However, I’ve hired two since then and so far, so good. I guess I learned quickly what to look for in a Millennial candidate, and how to manage them once they are hired!

Thanks to Dan Schawbel for his insights on the subject.

 

If you find yourself challenged regarding the multi-generational workplace, Mr. Schawbel is certainly a resource. He is the managing partner of Millennial Branding, a Gen Y research and management consulting firm. He speaks on the topic of personal branding, social media and Gen Y workforce management for companies such as Google, Time Warner, Symantec, CitiGroup and IBM. Subscribe to his updates at Facebook.com/DanSchawbel.

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

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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.

The Causes and Costs of Absenteeism in the Workplace — Part 1

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?Risk Management

Causes of Workplace Absenteeism — Absenteeism is an employee’s intentional or habitual absence from work. While employers expect workers to miss a certain number of workdays each year, excessive absences can equate to decreased productivity and can have a major effect on company finances, morale and other factors. This article looks at the causes of absenteeism, the costs of lost productivity and what employers can do to reduce absenteeism rates in the workplace.

People miss work for a variety of reasons, many of which are legitimate and others less so. Some of the common causes of absenteeism include (but are not limited to):

  • Bullying and harassment – Employees who are bullied or harassed by coworkers and/or bosses are more likely to call in sick to avoid the situation
  • Burnout, stress and low morale – Heavy workloads, stressful meetings/presentations and feelings of being unappreciated can cause employees to avoid going into work. Personal stress (outside of work) can lead to absenteeism.
  • Childcare and eldercare – Employees may be forced to miss work in order to stay home and take care of a child/elder when normal arrangements have fallen through (for example, a sick caregiver or a snow day at school) or if a child/elder is sick.
  • Depression – According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the leading cause of absenteeism in the United States is depression. Depression can lead to substance abuse if people turn to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate their pain or anxiety.
  • Disengagement – Employees who are not committed to their jobs, coworkers and/or the company are more likely to miss work simply because they have no motivation to go.
  • Illness – Injuries, illness and medical appointments are the most commonly reported reasons for missing work (though not always the actual reason). Not surprisingly, each year during the cold and flu season, there is a dramatic spike in absenteeism rates for both full-time and part-time employees.
  • Injuries – Accidents can occur on the job or outside of work, resulting in absences. In addition to acute injuries, chronic injuries such as back and neck problems are a common cause of absenteeism.
  • Job hunting – Employees may call in sick to attend a job interview, visit with a headhunter or work on their resumes/CVs.
  • Partial shifts – Arriving late, leaving early and taking longer breaks than allowed are considered forms of absenteeism and can affect productivity and workplace morale.

Just think, the total cost of productivity loss due to eldercare alone is well over $33 billion per year for U.S. employers. Risk management planning is essential for employers to achieve the success they need.

In Part 2, I will take a different view of the costs associated with lost productivity.

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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