As Baby Boomers begin to turn 65 , more and more businesses are facing the challenge of supporting employees who are caregivers for aging parents or relatives. This new employee role can easily become a problem if businesses don't heed to the warning signs.
According to the MetLife Caregiver Cost Study, absenteeism by employees because of elder care responsibilities cost businesses within the US over $3.4 billion each year. This same report points out that it costs nearly $3 billion annually for US companies to replace employees who quit because of their many responsibilities as an elder caregiver.
Obviously, this sends up some major red flags to companies. Employees taking care of their aging parents will have an impact on their attendance but also their productivity. These include costs associated with crisis in care, workday interruptions, supervisory time, unpaid leave, and reducing hours from full-time to part time.
A business can not afford to let experienced employees quit when their caregiving responsibilities become too burdensome. Skilled, trained and mature employees are an asset. It's difficult to replace the judgment, relationships, market savvy and wisdom which many of these caregiver employees bring. Not to mention, the costs of training a replacement could easily be more than any costs of accommodating existing employees.
There are several ways a company can help their caregiving employees:
1. Reach out.
Try and understand what they are going through. These employees are going to take care of their loved ones whether their company and their supervisor are aware of it or not. Try and partner with them to make them successful both at home and at work.
Hold seminars or lunch gatherings where people can come and share the demands they are going through as caregivers. Invite everyone because there will be many who know that it is coming up for them and will want to learn all they can to prepare for what is ahead. By making open discussion of elderly care issues part of the discussion at work, these employees will feel that you truly want them to succeed. The local Area Agency on Aging, health system, and long term care insurance companies may even be good sources for guest speakers.
Speak with other management about how they support their employed caregivers. Dig deeper to offer more paid time off, allow a few work-from-home days a month, or make deals with respite care and elder day care agencies in your area to offer discounts to these employees. Brainstorm out of the ordinary resources to offer these employees so they can focus on work while they are their. A satisfied employee is an employee who will not only work harder, but also represent your business well in words and in action.
In the long run, partnering with caregivers in the workplace just makes good business sense.