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Supporting Family Caregivers in the Workplace is a Good Business Practice

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With an aging population, employers need to be prepared to support workers who take on caregiving responsibilities at home. According to the Institute for Research on Public Policy, nearly half (46%) of Canadians have already reported providing care at some point in their lives,and with Canada’s aging population, that number is only expected to grow*.

Every year Canada loses the equivalent of 558,000 full-time employees from the workforce due to conflicting demands of paid work and care. Providing a positive support system and benefits around caregiving shows a commitment to employees’ wellbeing. Employers also experience the following benefits:

Increased employee engagement – Caregiving duties rarely stick to a schedule. Offering options such as flextime and working offsite helps employees juggle conflicting responsibilities. Giving employees more control over their schedule also helps them focus on work, rather than worrying about how they can fit in a doctor’s appointment and travel time and still finish a report between 9 to 5. Showing a willingness to accommodate your employees creates a greater sense of loyalty toward the company.

Recruit and retain the best talent – Policies that are caregiver friendly, such as flextime and paid time off, are a powerful selling point to help recruit and retain employees. Companies that top employer lists usually provide incentives and flexible work practices that accommodate the unpredictable needs of the caregiver. For a company to remain competitive in the talent pool these are no longer nice to haves, you need to offer these benefits.

Reduce costs A recent Ceridian survey and report found that caregiving-related absenteeism costs Canadian employers an estimated $5.5 billion annually in lost productivity**. It’s no secret that employees are more productive when they have the flexibility to focus on their work once their personal affairs are in order. Not to mention providing benefits that employees look for helps retain and recruit talent, reducing those costs.

Improves morale – Caring for a family member who has an illness or disability is already difficult enough without having to worry about how it will affect your job. Creating a work environment where employees feel they can openly talk about their caregiving needs is good for morale. When employers show they’re invested in the wellbeing of their employees and their families, it creates a sense of loyalty and dedication that can’t be bought.

With the Institute for Research on Public Policy forecasting that over the next 30 years the number of Canadians who will require caregiving will double,the benefits of providing employees with caregiving support is hard to ignore. For employers it’s clear that accommodating the changing needs of caregivers will benefit their businesses in the long run.


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*Janet Fast, “Caregiving for Older Adults with Disabilities: Present Costs, Future Challenges,” Institute for Research on Public Policy Study (December 2015).

** Ceridian, “Double Duty: The Caregiving Crisis in the Workplace,” Results and Recommendations from Ceridian's Working Caregiver Survey (November 5, 2015).

Last revised: May 31, 2017

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