If you have caregivers in your organization – and there is no doubt but that you do – they are costing your organization an 8% differential in healthcare costs per year over noncaregivers, according to a
study on caregivers conducted by Metlife and the National Alliance for Caregiving. The study also found that “younger caregivers (ages 18 to 39) cost their employers 11% more for health care than non-caregivers, while male caregivers cost an additional 18%. It also found that eldercare may be closely associated with high-risk behaviors like smoking and alcohol consumption. Exacerbating the potential impact to employers is the possibility that these medical conditions may also lead to disability-related absences.”
The study encompassed more than 17,000 U.S. employees of a major multi-national manufacturing corporation. Nearly 12% of the participants reported caregiving responsibilities for an elderly person. And contrary to conventional thinking that this is an issue for older workers, younger populations such as employees in the 18-39 group are increasingly assuming caregiver responsibilities.
Caregivers face a number of life stressors that take a toll on their health – and their work performance. Caring.com addresses 5 of the biggest issues that sabotage family caregivers:
- Lack of privacy – establishing boundaries and relief from 24/7 responsibilities.
- Sleep deprivation – imperils the caregiver’s mental and physical health.
- Lone-soldier syndrome – failure to have emotional outlets can exacerbate stress.
- Unpredictability – makes it difficult to make contingency plans.
- Overwhelming tasks – sometimes the enormity of care demands necessitate nursing home placement, a wrenching decision.
What can employers do?
One of the single biggest things an employer can do is to address the issue and to make resources and support available to caregiving employees. This can be done through the Human Resources department, through a wellness program, or through an EAP, or by bringing an outside agency in to offer seminars and support.
One simple thing an employer can do is to compile and share a list of caregiving resources, both those available locally and online. Recent reports show that a high number of caregivers turn to online resources for peer-to-peer help, both with their own health issues and the health issues of loved ones that they have caregiver responsibilities for. Peer-to-peer programs can go a long way to diminishing the feeling of being alone and can help the caregiver to find and share practical support resources. We’ve compiled a list of online caregiver resources that might be helpful to your caregiving employees – feel free to share this page within your organization.
For additional ways that employers can support the caregivers in their workplace, here are some resources:
- The U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission: Employer Best Practices for Workers with Caregiving Responsibilities – Best practices are proactive measures that go beyond federal non-discrimination requirements.
- National Alliance for Caregiving and Center for Productive Aging, Towson University: Corporate Eldercare Programs – the findings of an 18-month study examining the extent to which workplace caregiving programs helped the employees who used them—specifically, whether these programs made a positive difference in their health and on-the-job performance.
- HR Web Cafe: Caregiver employees are at heightened risk: how employers can help.