This week I had the distinction of speaking at the Illinois Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM) conference on the effect of elder-care on the workplace. As I finished my presentation an attendee approached and as she did the tears welled up in her eyes as she began to share her personal struggle of maintaining work/life balance as she helps care for 2 family members with Alzheimer’s.
She was quick to apologize for her “breakdown”, however; I assured her that she is not alone as 21% of the workforce is caring for an elderly loved one at any given time (this number is estimated to increase to 47% in the next 5 years). It is because of people exactly like her I am so passionate about helping companies provide education to their employees. The pressure of caregiving, along with the emotional strain of watching a loved one decline is always present. This anxiety is what she brings with her to work every day.
What is the impact of elder-care on your employees?
Employees trying to manage their parents growing care needs have a direct effect on productivity, recruitment, retention and training, as well as increased health care costs.
Statistics from the MetLife Mature Market Institute show:
- 33% of caregivers decrease the number of hours they work
- 29% quit their job or retire early
- 22% take a leave of absence
- 84% make caregiving related phone calls during business hours
- 68% arrive late or leave early
- 67% take time off from work during the day
As for increased health care costs, even when your employees are caring for someone not covered by your health plan, your company’s healthcare cost can go up.
- 75% of working caregivers report an adverse affect on their own health
- 50% report 8 additional visits per year to a health care provider (for themselves) as a result of their caregiving responsibilities
- 22% report a significant impact on their own health
Unfortunately this issue is relatively unaddressed by companies in the United States. Companies without elder care benefits stand to lose $2,500 a year per caregiving employee. Currently less than 25 % of organizations offer elder care benefits.
The good news is: It doesn’t have to stay that way.
There are caregiving initiatives that can be put in place to assist your employees in connecting with resources, decreasing their stress level and increasing their productivity. Creating caregiver education initiatives is not a budgeting issue, it’s a priority issue. However; if it’s not a priority of your company now, it will eventually become a budgeting issue.
Want to know how this issue is directly affecting your company? Check out the Elder-Care Calculator on the AgingInfoUSA website. http://www.aginginfousa.com/hr-professionals/eldercare-calculator or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.