“Elder care is a lot like being a parent in some respects but without the joy.” So said Janet James, a working daughter, in a Washington Post article titled, “Aging population prompts more employers to offer elder-care benefits to workers.” While James’ comment is sobering, the article is hopeful and outlines a number of companies that are addressing the impact caregiving is having on the workplace.
Some savvy businesses, taking a realistic approach to the number of caregivers in the workforce, are implementing benefits for caregivers from flex time, to back up adult care, to referrals to elder care programs, and much needed help with legal, financial and emotional support services. It makes sense. Two-thirds of caregivers are working, and most of them are women. American businesses run a riks of decreased productivity and costly rehiring and retraining fees if they don’t find a way to keep working daughters productive and engaged at work.
Unfortunately, according to the National Alliance for Caregiving and the AARP, 70 percent of female, working caregivers suffer work-related difficulties as a result of their caregiving roles – and many suffer in silence. Pfizer found that to be the case when it surveyed workers and discovered many caregivers were “feeling overwhelmed and isolated.” As a result, the pharmaceutical company began offering more flex, manager training to free geriatric assessments.
And it’s not just large companies that can address the caregiver crunch. I work for a small business, less than 35 employees. Seven of us, or 20 percent of our workforce, are dealing with sick and or aging parents. It’s disruptive. But by training our managers to manage flex schedules, offer leave and alternative schedules, and reinforcing the need for constant communication and accountability, we’re making it work – for the caregivers, the firm and our clients.
You can read the full article here. And for more information on how managers can support caregivers, read A Message for Managers: 3 Ways to Support Working Caregivers.