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Family Caregivers Impact Employers
Posted March 17,2017 by CUNA Economics

Employer support for caregivers will benefit their companies.  

Over 16% of people in the United States—40 million adults—are providing informal care for family members.  As the elder population increases with demographic shift, and as life expectancies grow, the number of caregivers will also increase, according to a recent report from Northeast Business Group on Health, “The Caregiving Landscape: Challenges and Opportunities for Employers.”  

Many workers feel that caregiving is “just what you do,” may not consider themselves caregivers, and do not vocalize their caregiving activity due to worry that “such a disclosure could have a negative impact on their career.”   

Some interesting facts about caregivers:  

  • They come from every walk of life representing a variety of age, social, and racial groups;
  • 60% are women although more males are becoming caregivers;
  • Millennials comprise 25% of caregivers; and
  • Caregivers spend $7,000 annually in related out-of-pocket costs, financial instability may result.  

Many employers may not yet have awareness of the impact caregiving may have on their business.  Beyond one in six workers are caregivers, and this number will grow.   

Cost of caregiving to employers include absenteeism, lesser productivity, higher healthcare costs—caregivers tend to be in poorer health and add 8% to healthcare expenses, and additional recruiting and training costs as caregivers have higher turnover rates.  

In fact, such expenses equate to nearly a $38 billion loss annually for employers.  

The report indicates employers can support caregivers in three ways:  

  • 1.Helpful leave policies;
  • 2.Providing direct support to caregivers; and
  • 3.Direct access to helpful external services.  

“The challenges employers face in providing effective support to caregiving employees are not dissimilar to the challenges they face in developing interventions to conditions such as obesity and diabetes,” the report says.  

“Stigma is a challenge that often surfaces with these conditions, but it is especially similar to that which employers face when attempting to help employees suffering from mental illness…employees fear their managers will view them as not able to shoulder their responsibilities as effectively as their colleagues, with ramifications for new assignments and promotions.”



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