What is caregiving costing you?

Costs add up when working adults are stretched between the office and caring for a loved one

Employee holding the hands of an older loved one
A recent Harvard Business School report opened with a warning: “American companies are facing a caregiving crisis — they just refuse to acknowledge it.”

Are you acknowledging it?

Caregiving comes in many forms: caring for children, for a spouse battling an illness, or for an elderly parent. Today 40% of adults are looking after an aging loved one, assuming responsibilities related to their health, well-being, living accommodations, transportation, and more.

Employer-sponsored benefits also come in many forms, aimed at managing costs and keeping employees happy, healthy, productive, and engaged. Employers choose to offer benefits, perks, and other incentives based on what they perceive employees want or need.

Caregiving hasn’t yet made it into most employee benefit conversations. But should it?

The reality: caregiving is happening

Here are some of the findings of the Harvard Business School report:

• 73% of employees have some type of caregiving responsibility.

• 80% of employees with caregiving duties say it affects their work performance.

• Nearly 1 in 3 employees have voluntarily left a job to tend to caregiving responsibilities.

• When employees were asked about significant factors that contributed to quitting a job, 53% mentioned the unaffordable cost of paid help, 44% mentioned the inability to find trustworthy and qualified help, and 40% mentioned the inability to meet work responsibilities due to increased caregiving responsibilities.

The impact: costs add up

We’ve all heard the saying “time is money.” Your employees’ time — combined with their talent — creates the value that allows your business to succeed.

But when employees spend time at work worrying about whether their parent’s home health aide arrived on time, juggling phone calls with two specialists’ offices, and figuring out the paperwork is needed for a move to assisted living — is that time money?

Caregiving costs employers, and employees, every day. When employees are stretched too thin between their jobs and a loved one, their productivity and focus suffer. They may need to take longer breaks, arrive late, or leave early. They may work remotely more often or take more unplanned absences if that’s not possible. They may even need to pass on an opportunity to travel for work or a promotion.

When caregivers are burdened by worries, suffer anxiety, or don’t sleep enough, the stress can affect their mental and physical condition, creating new health care costs.

If an employee ends up leaving their job because of caregiving responsibilities, their employer foots the bills related to turnover, rehiring, and training, and suffers the loss of a valuable asset.

The solution: help is possible

The costs of caregiving are real, but employers can take action. In its report, the Harvard Business School encourages companies to prepare for the “care crisis” by investing in “care culture” — with management that recognizes caregiver obligations and supports employees burdened by caregiving.

“The idea to support caregivers actually came to us from patients we serve and employers we work with,” explains Rene’ Coult-Calendine, Fairview's Vice President of Market and Product Development. “They were seeing their doctor for stress, anxiety, and other related health issues that could be correlated with the responsibilities of being a caregiver. They felt that a program for caregivers would be priceless to them.”

In 2017, Fairview introduced Caregiver Assurance, a service to help people succeed in caring for both their loved one and themselves. Licensed social workers with expertise in eldercare and caregiving duties give dedicated, ongoing support to caregivers. For example, they provide consultation and information, help navigate the health system, share suggested solutions, and often just lend an ear to listen.

In 2018, Fairview started offering Caregiver Assurance in our benefits package — a step in promoting a culture of care in our organization and recognizing the needs of our employees. Now, the service is available to other employers who want to support their employees this way and get ahead of the hidden costs of caregiving.

“We are excited to help employers help their employees,” Rene’ says.

Caregiving is going to remain a challenge that employers must acknowledge. Fairview is committed to helping forge the solutions.

Learn about supporting caregivers at your organization. For more solutions that help your company manage costs and meet real employee health needs, go to Fairview Employer Solutions.

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