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5 Ways Eldercare Could Impact Your Business

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Think you can’t afford to develop family-friendly business practices for your employees who are caring for an older adult? As the latest research suggests, perhaps you can’t afford not to address these issues. According to a recent Ceridian report, caregiving costs Canadian employers an estimated $5.5 billion annually in lost productivity*.

In a survey of North American working family caregivers of older adults, conducted by Home Instead, Inc., franchisor of the Home Instead® network, employees shed light on how their attitudes can affect the workforce. An estimated 38 percent of respondents say they need more understanding. In addition, 36 percent say they need new workplace policies while 26 percent say they need both.

Consider the following ways eldercare could impact your business:

  1. Increased absenteeism: Unexpected senior care emergencies could pull employees away from work at the last minute. In fact, according to the Institute for Research on Public Policy, 44 percent of employed Canadian caregivers report having missed between 8-9 days of work in the last year because of their care responsibilities**. Studies have shown flexible scheduling could benefit not just the caregiver but the employer too. According to “Flextime and Profitability” by Byron Y. Lee and Sanford E. DeVoe, profitability increases when workplace flexibility is implemented as a strategy for enhancing employee quality***.
  2. Decreased productivity: It might seem easy to connect decreased productivity with increasing demands on an employee. Many employees themselves admit that caring for an elderly loved one and the accompanying fatigue and stress impact their productivity on the job. That’s where flextime could help. Indeed, Lee and Devoe found a correlation between increased productivity and offering flextime through an employee-centred strategy, making a strong business case for employers looking to address the increasing number of caregivers in the workplace.
  3. Loss of talent: The 2017 National Study of Employers (NSE) sponsored by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)**** found that retaining employees was the top reason (at 39 percent) for employers to implement employee and family assistance initiatives. Many employers already recognize the problems they will face when they are unable to retain valuable talent as a result of workplace inflexibility.
  4. Interruption of services or work flow: Families spend nine months preparing for the arrival of a new baby. They plan their leave time, employers arrange back-up for the employee and generally have an idea when the employee will return. No such predictability exists with senior care. The potential for emergencies abounds from falls to heart attacks to medication mismanagement. That can wreak havoc on the workplace. It pays to meet with your employee in advance to develop a plan that works for your company and your staff member. Make sure employees are cross-trained to minimize the impact of emergencies.
  5. Declining morale: “Employers don’t understand,” complained one working family caregiver. Eleven percent of employers in the 2017 NSE study noted that their reasons for implementing employee and family assistance initiatives revolved around improving morale. Morale can be a difficult issue to pinpoint, but one that could have a big influence on your business. If you’re trying to build a strong team, declining morale could diminish loyalty to your organization and have a negative impact on your entire team.

While recognizing the ways that family caregiving could impact your business are important so are tuning into the signs that your working family caregiver needs help. Family-friendly business practices don’t have to be expensive or difficult to implement.



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

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

*** Lee, B.Y., and S.E. DeVoe. 2012. “Flextime and Profitability.” Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society 51: 298-316.

****2017 National Study of Employers (NSE) released by SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) and the Families and Work Institute*

Last revised: May 31, 2017

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