Employee Caregivers in Your Organization

 

As the workforce changed in the 1980’s, childcare became an issue. Today’s workforce issue is family caregiving. More than 22 million Americans are working family caregivers. In any workplace nearly 20% of employees are family caregivers during their “off-work” hours.

Compared with professionals in the workplace, family caregivers are a less obvious presence because their work is not tied to your mission. Family caregivers spend their “off-work” hours caring for their own relatives or friends who are ill, disabled, elderly or special-needs children.
But if you look and listen you will recognize many family caregivers in your workforce, men and women of any age or race, in any job or socio-economic group:

  • Leaving early to take a family member or close friend to medical appointments
  • Using personal and sick time to handle family health crises
  • Taking a leave-of-absence to be with someone close to them who is elderly, ill, disabled, or dying
  • Losing productivity and effectiveness because of caregiver burden or distractions
  • Shifting from full-time to part-time, or quitting their job because juggling work and family caregiving issues is no longer possible.

Take a moment and ask yourself, who among your employees is a family caregiver?

Why support them?

We know that family caregiving costs employees and employers in three significant ways.

  1. Financial, emotional and physical well-being of caregivers is undermined. Respondents in a 2018 survey reported spending, on average, $10,400 in annual out-of-pocket expenses. Most caregivers did not plan for the additional expenditures and the additional strain it put on their lives. That’s up from an average of $7,285 in 2010. About 60% reported using some of their savings to cover caregiving costs.1As a result of refusing promotions, decreasing work hours or quitting jobs, caregivers are estimated to each experience losses in wages, pension and Social Security benefits that average $659,139 over a lifetime.2Caregiving can also have serious physical and mental health consequences, largely due to chronic stress that erodes the immune system, and increases the risk of chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and depression. Caregivers report higher levels of stress and poorer health than the population at large. 3
  2. Employee work performance suffers. Among working family caregivers, 60% make some type of work-related adjustment as a result of caregiving responsibilities. These include:
    • Arriving late/leaving early/taking time off (49%)
    • Taking a leave of absence (15%)
    • Reducing work hours (14%)
    • Quitting work or retiring early (10%).4At work, employees’ caregiving responsibilities may be out of sight but often they are not out of mind. Hovering in the back of their minds, but often not openly discussed, caregiving concerns create mental distractions, drain their energy and diminish the quality and effectiveness of their contributions.
  3. Employers bear caregiving-related financial costs. For the US economy, the aggregate cost of lost productivity for all full-time, employed caregivers is $33.6 billion. Employers’ costs for working family caregivers’ health care benefits are 8% per year higher than those for non-caregiving employees, totaling $13.4 billion annually.5The average cost of lost productivity for individual working family caregivers is approximately $6,400/person/year. This estimate includes costs associated with replacing employees, absenteeism, presenteeism, workday interruptions, supervisory time, unpaid leave, and reductions from full to part-time work.6

For a closer look at how working family caregivers impact your organization’s bottom line, complete the Calculating the Cost of Caregiving form located in “Calculating the Cost” tab.