Employee Caregiving on the Rise: How Will Employers ReACT?

Employee, family member, caregiver, friend, citizen. We all carry multiple roles in society, and each comes with pressures to deliver the highest quality service.  Sometimes those responsibilities require more than a 24-hour day will allow, which has implications for not only individuals and families, but also businesses of all shapes and sizes.

The Employee Caregiver

The dual role of employee and caregiver is not new to families, but it is one that employers now cannot afford to ignore.  From doctor’s appointments and pharmacists visits to consultations with insurance companies and moving mom and dad closer to home, elder caregiving responsibilities often become a full-time job of their own.

There are approximately 65.7 million unpaid family caregivers in the United States, and of those nearly three quarters of them also maintain some form of employment. As the population ages at unprecedented rates, the demand for informal care will only increase.  In 2000, the number of people 60 and over was approximately 650 million; by 2050, there will be nearly 2 billion people over the age of 60. With one in six American workers already acting as caregivers, and over 10,000 Baby Boomers turning 65 every day, employers must adapt to employee caregiving as the “new normal.”

Employers Must Take Action

The greatest opportunity for talent recruitment and retention and employee satisfaction is to provide for this growing group of the workforce.  Unpaid caregiving responsibilities for an aging population have a financial impact on both caregivers and their employers, and for employers, the potential costs are significant.  A poll from Gallup shows that providing care keeps 24 percent of employees from working more. The cost to employers due to lost productivity of employee caregivers is estimated as high $34 billion annually.  These costs are attributed to replacing employees, workday interruptions, absenteeism and shifts from full-time to part-time work.

Awareness of caregivers in the workplace is high.  In fact, Gallup found that three out of four front-line managers report that they know which of their team members are caregivers.  What is missing is the action to support these employees and therefore improve their overall business success.

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Resources for Front-line Managers

To that end, on the occasion of National Family Caregivers Month, ReACT (Respect A Caregiver’s Time), in collaboration with AARP, has launched a new website (www.aarp.org/ReACT) that will provide employers with the tools they need to open channels of communication about caregiving in the workplace, embrace caregiving as the new normal and find ways to address employees’ needs for flexibility. This free Employer Resource Guide will also provide support for employers through social media and networking groups as a means to share success stories and best practices.

ReACT welcomes employers of all sizes to join us as we support caregivers as both good business and good practice.

To learn more and join ReACT, visit www.respectcaregivers.org or follow @ReACTCare on Twitter.