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5 Ways Eldercare Could Impact Your Business

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May 31, 2017

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 the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index surveys released in 2011, caregiving costs the U.S. economy $25.2 billion 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 Senior Care® 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. Studies have shown flexible scheduling could help. Data from a utility company that had tested a flexible scheduling program for one year found a 20 percent reduction of unexcused absences or two days per employee-year compared with employees who didn't have access to this benefit. A meta-analysis of 27 studies, reported in Determining the Return on Investment – Supportive Policies for Employee Caregivers**, found significant effects of flextime on various work-related outcomes, and absenteeism showed the largest change.
  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. Forty-one percent of human resource directors in the Determining the Return on Investment** study said flextime was associated with increased productivity, although 39 percent cautioned that drawbacks are scheduling difficulties.
  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 2016 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.

Related Resources

*Findings are from a special survey of Americans who self-identified as caregivers in Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index surveys throughout 2010; online at http://www.gallup.com/poll/148670/Caregiving-Costs-Economy-Billion-Lost-Productivity.aspx

**Determining the Return on Investment – Supportive Policies for Family Caregivers; online at http://respectcaregivers.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/AARP-ROI-Report-FINAL-4.1.16.pdf

*** The SHRM 2016 National Study of Employers (NSE) released in 2017 by SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management); online at http://whenworkworks.org/downloads/2016-National-Study-of-Employers.pdf  

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