The first thing you notice when you read HRE’s recent article on elder care is that everybody’s talking about it.
The second thing is why – specifically because elder care costs organizations $34 million annually in lost productivity, presenteeism and increased medical spending.
“Employed caregivers report significant levels of stress, which negatively impacts their work,” writes HRE’s Danielle Westermann King. “Six in 10 caregivers have experienced at least one caregiving-related effect at work, such as cutting back on their working hours, taking a leave of absence and/or receiving a warning about performance or attendance.”
Those are big numbers with big impacts.
What else did we learn?
Today’s numbers are the tip of the iceberg
Of the 40-million adults who currently count themselves as caregivers, many are valuable Millennials; and large numbers are putting in as many as 24 hours each week – more than half a full-time job. With Boomers moving into retirement years at a rate or roughly 10,000 per day, the costs are only going to grow.
It simmers beneath the surface
Unlike new babies, eldercare isn’t something people typically announce. So the costs can often escalate without the employer having a clue. “It was overwhelming, exhausting and lonely,” one woman told HRE about caring for her mother. “I didn’t tell my colleagues or managers that I had this second job.”
When it hits – it hits hard
Elder care doesn’t follow a predictable path. “If an aging parent suddenly falls,” Bright Horizons CEO Stephen Kramer told HRE, “family members are thrust into a situation where they need to be experts with all of the answers. Our Back-Up Care Program is a stopgap for employees who are dealing with an unplanned breakdown in care arrangements or an emergent situation.”
Many top employers are already planning
Senior leaders at organizations like PepsiCo told HRE about their own realizations around the concern. “We noticed a trend toward family-friendly benefits and flexible-work arrangements,” PepsiCo’s Vice President of Benefits and Wellness Erik Sossa told HRE. “From this pattern, I identified an emerging need for elder-care benefits that would likely come to a head in three to five years.” The company rolled out Bright Horizons’ elder care benefit this year.
The Growing Consensus on Employer Sponsored Elder Care Benefits
Finally, there’s wide agreement that staying ahead of it requires concrete action in the form of flexible scheduling, actual care services, employer-sponsored elder care benefits…and more.
“To meet the needs of these employees, now or in the future, and ensure that they can be both productive workers and caregivers experts say employers should consider implementing elder-care (or caregiver) benefits,” wrote Danielle. Such sentiments explain why top employers on Working Mother were overwhelmingly bullish on elder care benefits, with 99% offering at least something to help.
“A back-up benefit allows the caregiver a moment to breathe as he or she makes a plan.”