As Baby Boomers age out of the workforce, younger generations are left to take care of them, themselves, and their children, causing a workplace “care-nundrum.” How is caregiving impacting the workplace? And what can HR professionals and employers do to support these workers who moonlight as family caregivers? A new report sheds some light on this issue, which will only continue to grow as more workers continue to age.
Health solutions provider Cambia’s new report, “Wired for Care: The New Face of Caregiving in America,” touches on how caregiving has impacted the workplace and offers a few ways employers can accommodate workers who are left juggling the responsibilities of a full-time job and the full-time care of their loved ones.
Before we dive into how HR pros and employers can help their workers juggle both responsibilities, it’s worth noting the demographics that make up your workforce’s caregivers. According to Cambia’s report, the average caregiver is roughly 42 years old, with 36% of caregivers being between the ages of 18 and 34. Caregiving knows no gender, as men and women are almost equally split, with 47% of males and 53% of women reporting they are caregivers.
Being a caregiver means you care for parents, children, or both—and 24% of caregivers provide care for both a child (under the age of 18) and an adult (over the age of 18). The report finds that 58% of caregivers report having at least one child in their household, and 62% report being married or currently living with their partner.
The most important stats of all: Over half (54%) of caregivers are employed either part time or full time, and most spend an average of 31 hours a week carrying out care duties. These are important to note because this is where HR pros and employers come into play. How can you solve the care-nundrum in your workplace?
The Workplace Care-Nundrum
According to the Cambia report, “[I]t is important for employers to understand the issues these employees face as they try to juggle their official job with their unofficial one.” Additionally, 69% of benefits decision-makers agree that when caregiving and job responsibilities compete, both personal and work life are affected.
“The perception gap between employers and employees on this important issue has the potential to echo the decades-old working mom bias—i.e., the belief people who are responsible for caring for loved ones outside of work may be hindering productivity,” suggests the report. The report highlights the key areas where caregivers report having productivity issues, which include:
- Going into work late, leaving early, or taking time off to care for a loved one (41%)
- Calling healthcare providers on behalf of the loved one during work hours (33%)
- Requesting flexible working schedules to accommodate the care of a loved one (31%)
- Reducing work hours or taking on a new, less demanding job to care for loved ones (24%)
Taking care of family members has resulted in some negative consequences for caregivers, according to the report. Fourteen percent say they have received a written warning about their attendance, and the same percentage also reports turning down a promotion to take care of a family member. Additionally, 12% have received a warning about their overall job performance.
Solving the Care-Nundrum Crisis
“As the need for unpaid care from family and friends continues to grow, employers will need to realistically assess the impact of this in the workplace,” suggests the report. “They will also need to seek out services and resources to help employed caregivers solve this Care-nundrum.”
Caregiving isn’t just limited to the workforce; Cambia also found that employers themselves were also responsible for caring for family members. “[E]mployers who are caregivers themselves are about 1.4 times more likely than non-caregivers to agree these responsibilities [of caring for loved ones] impact employee stress levels.” Cambia suggests these employers may be unlikely champions for helping workers overcome the challenges associated with caregiving and working.
Cambia also suggests that employers should help their employed caregivers by offering them technological caregiving solutions. “[D]igital services to help employees manage their unpaid caregiving responsibilities and access expert resources may see dividends in greater employee engagement and increased job satisfaction,” finds the report.
These technological resources may include having access to a tool that enables caregivers to monitor health records remotely, connects them with a health and wellness professional who can answer questions, and supports caregiving activities that would increase their workplace satisfaction.
“Employers have the opportunity to support their employees and positively impact their business by evaluating tools and services delivering leading edge technology and personalized support—especially when it comes to caregivers. Providing solutions backed by support and personalization can also help improve their employees’ work-life balance and overall job satisfaction,” suggests the report.
“We are entering a new era where the traditional definition of a caregiver has changed significantly,” says Mark Ganz, CEO of Cambia Health Solutions. “To better support this unsung segment of our health care system, I would call on health care players, policy makers and business leaders across the country to make a commitment to understand and act in support of today’s caregivers. Discover who they are, what challenges they face and how collectively we can better serve them.”
How are you supporting the caregivers at your organization?