November is National Family Caregivers Month, and this year it’s a good time to address the new realities family caregivers face with their loved ones. A growing number of employees are caring for aging loved ones while working full time. The pandemic has presented even more challenges for caregivers, and they are looking to their employers for support.
According to their most recent report, the AARP and National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) found that as of 2020, more than 47 million Americans are providing unpaid adult care. That’s an increase of over 8 million caregivers since 2015, with nearly one in five people identifying as an adult caregiver.
The AARP and NAC report notes that this data suggests many caregivers may be taking on this role without adequate and affordable services and supports in place. With all the challenges caregiving presents under normal circumstances, the COVID-19 pandemic has only accentuated the struggles caregivers normally shoulder.
Shockingly, a Harvard Business School study found that many employers aren’t aware of how much caregiving responsibilities are impacting their workforce’s productivity, retention and costs. Only 24% of employers surveyed said caregiving affected employee performance compared to 80% of employees who said it impacted their productivity.
Additionally, the same report found 78% of employees who care for loved ones indicate that caregiver referral services are a “very important” factor in their decision to stay with an employer, yet, only 38% of employers thought these services effectively retain employees.
Furthermore, another AARP report found that lost productivity due to employee caregiving costs employers $33.6 billion per year. They also found that employees were leaving their positions due to caregiving responsibilities, which increased turnover costs. And those who stayed on the job experienced higher rates of absenteeism and presenteeism.
Employers can offer employee support programs to help reduce caregiver stress and also decrease the negative impact that caregiving can have on productivity and costs. Here are some caregiver support programs to consider.
Senior Care Information & Referral Services
As noted above, 78% of caregiving employees indicate that referral services are “very important” to their retention. The most effective caregiver referral services will go beyond simply offering confirmed referrals to providers nationwide, your employees also should have 24/7 access to expert guidance from bachelor- and master-level specialists who can help them choose the most appropriate providers, answer their questions, and share helpful educational materials. A variety of online tools, interactive content, informative webinars, and other resources should also be available to employees. Some referral services, such as LifeCare’s, even provide a discount shopping platform that saves employees money on purchases of caregiving-related products and services.
Senior Caregiver Support Programs
Given the growth of the nation’s aging population and the resulting rise in the number of family caregivers, a high-quality senior care management program provides an array of invaluable support services to employees who care for older parents, spouses, family members and friends. These services include in-person assessments of elders, detailed care recommendations, 24/7 telephonic and online access to experienced senior care specialists who can help employees navigate their personal caregiving journey, ultimately helping them stay focused and productive at work.
Employees who care for aging loved ones often miss work due to breakdowns in their regular senior care arrangements. A high quality backup care program keeps your organization’s caregivers from having to take time off, and it saves them from the stress of scrambling to find reliable alternate care at the last minute. Positive organizational benefits of backup care include reduced absenteeism and presenteeism, improved productivity and engagement and better health for your family caregivers.
Self-Care Resources for Caregivers
The stress and challenges of caregiving can take its toll on your employees, increasing the risk of medical and mental health problems. Employers can help employees better manage stress by offering access to wellness and emotional health information and referrals. It’s also important that employers offer Employee Assistance Programs so employees have somewhere to turn to help manage these emotions.
While a lot is changing and caregiving is clearly becoming more complicated, employers can provide employee benefits that remain a consistent source of support that employees can rely on to remove some of the burdens they face, and in turn, improve productivity, engagement and retention.
LifeCare’s senior support services are specifically designed to provide caregiving employees with expert guidance and resources during a time that can be confusing and challenging. If you’d like to learn about how we can help you implement some of these support programs, contact us or call us at 866-675-3751.