In the U.S. there are 94 million employees who are a phone call away from their caregiver crisis. That’s the combined population total of Texas, California and New York! The Met Life Market Institute estimates the combined caregiving cost of absenteeism, workplace disruption and reduced work status is $33.7 billion annually. The employee caregiver crisis at home is also an escalating liability on the employer’s books. More than one in five working Americans is balancing the demands of the full time job along with caring for a family member- typically a parent. Working caregivers:
- cut back on their jobs to accommodate their caregiving.
- health care costs are significantly higher than non-caregivers.
- smoke more, drink more alcohol and get fewer preventive screenings.
The working caregiver employee puts in 44 hours per week attending to a loved one’s needs at the same time they hold down their day job.
If you are the head of HR or serve on one of the teams that support your company’s human capital, perhaps you should have an early warning system in place at your company? If you can judge by the percentages, there is likely going to be more than one warning sign for any given employee. Consideration should be given to the tangible steps which will support the working caregiver by:
- creating a “safe work environment” at work so that employees will seek help before they burnout.
- helping management develop “an eye” for seeing problems before they grow out of control.
- providing support and resources so that family crises become opportunities to grow loyalty.
There is education for professional careers, and there is on the job training. There are even books for expectant parents along with birthing and infant care classes. But there is no preparation for accidental caregivers, the caregiver that has very little warning that they will be responsible for the care of a loved one. We call providing caregivers with resources and assistance the newest employee benefit. It’s good for the employee and their loved one and it is good for the corporate bottom line because it reduces employee distraction, time away from work and improves employee retention. Did smoking cessation programs benefit the employees and the bottom line?
Employers who step up and who recognize that their employees’ “other full-time job” is also their problem will be the ones who thrive in the 21st century. If you have a colleague or a boss who would benefit from Charlotte’s posting, please share it. If you would like them to get the notifications of this and new posts, please have them reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or just forward their email address to us at same.
Charlotte Bishop is an Aging Life Care Advisor, Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Care Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago. She also is the co-author of How Do I Know You? A Caregiver’s Lifesaver for Dealing with Dementia.