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!


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.

Workplace Impact of Caregiving Employees

Written by Kevin K. Johnson

No matter how focused or dedicated to their job an employee may be, the need to provide caregiving services for an elderly loved one be it mother, father, grandparent, etc…, will almost always take precedent over all else; over critical projects at work, over business deadlines, over professional advancement, well,…you get the picture! For most people the need to provide eldercare for their parent will circumvent most other high priority issues even their critical job. To quantify this point, MetLife reports that in 2006 alone, employers lost approximately $3,430,263,991 due to employees tending to caregiving issues.


With the ‘graying of America’ upon us, no company can avoid productivity issues associated with employees who have to provide caregiving for elder loved ones. In fact, because employees are directly affected, businesses are now directly subjected to the ‘sandwich generation’ issues of their employees. Not only are their employees having children (as has always been the case), more and more employees are also responsible for providing some degree of Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s) for their elder parents. This can cause employees to experience incredible stress. It also means that employers, who have ‘right-sized’ as much as possible, are significantly impacted if even one of their employees is not able to give 100% to their work due to distractions or tardiness or absence brought about by any reason including senior caregiving.

Just as employers found it beneficial to develop and implement solutions for employees having children, today’s reality is that employers will have to develop and implement solutions for employees who have to provide eldercare for their senior loved ones.

For employers that may not know, let’s fill in the blanks regarding the issues involved with providing eldercare. Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s) is a term given to a broad range of capabilities that define the level of independence or conversely the amount of care required by a senior. ADL’s define the relative independence of seniors. ADL’s include bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring, continence, and feeding. In short, can the senior do these things for themselves. There is an analytical approach used to determine and score ADL’s along with a quantifiable sub-categorization of associated tasks required for independence.

As the name implies, ADL’s are daily and ongoing requirements as opposed to occasional tasks. Therefore, employees that have to assist with a parent’s ADL’s are burdened on a regular basis. This is what leads to the loss in productivity that the employee experiences and the organizational efficiency loss that the employer unfortunately absorbs, oftentimes unknowingly. Whether an employee arrives at work late, leaves work early, experiences additional fatigue while on the job, requests flex time, or applies for a leave of absence, the employer is significantly impacted. Often, the work productivity loss has become quite severe by the time the employer becomes aware of the issue. Think of the financial impact that has already taken place.

In an earlier posting I provided a few telling statistics. Here’s a few more statistics provided from The MetLife study “Productivity Losses to U.S. Business”, that define the extent of the issue from the employers’ perspective.

Employee Involvement
Consider these workplace factoids.

  • The average age of the caregiver for a person over the age of 50 is only 47 years old.
  • Nearly 40% of caregivers are men.
  • Nearly 60% of those caring for an adult over the age of 50 are working; the majority of those work full-time.
  • The estimate is that over 7 million employed caregivers are working full-time providing more intense care for someone over the age of 18.
  • In 2006, 10% or 280,421 men missed on average 12 work days per year, while
  • 18% of women or 757,136 missed on average 33 days a year.

Economic Impact on Businesses — Absenteeism

  • The estimated 280,421 men who missed work to attend to caregiving issues cost employers approximately $491,921,602,
  • The estimated 757,136 women who missed work to attend to caregiving issue cost employers approximately $2,938,293,389.
  • In total employers lost approximately $3,430,263,991 due to employees tending to caregiving issues.
  • Employers lost another $824,512,465 due to partial absenteeism associated with caregiving. This includes coming in late to work and leaving early and being unable to make up the time.
  • Finally of these overview numbers, employers lost an estimated $2,832,971,162 but to presenteeism; costs due to workday interruptions.

A number of proactive companies, some of which were leveraged for the data stated in this posting, have begun to provide solutions that their employees can access when senior caregiving issues arise. More progressive companies have gone further. They have also incorporated solution sets to help their employees plan for their own care needs when they become seniors. Ironically, in the process of attending to the immediate and urgent eldercare needs of their loved ones, many employees discovered that they were totally unaware of eldercare needs; that they had been making no plans to proactively address their own eventual senior care. Solutions are best when provided by subject matter experts in the area of eldercare and not generalists. Employers generally implement bundled solutions and not one-off solutions. However, few bundled solutions exist when it comes to the broad and complex area of eldercare services.

Future posts will address employee eldercare needs and help employers consider how to approach this issue.

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