The Impact of Caregivers in the Workplace

Employees with caregiving responsibilities are faced with competing obligations and increased stress. A study by the MetLife Mature Market Institute estimated the cost to U.S. companies in lost productivity, absenteeism, disengagement, turnover, and increased healthcare costs for fulltime employed caregivers is as much as $34 billion a year. That equates to $2,110 for every fulltime employee who cares for an adult.

Chart displaying cost to employers for dementia-related care

Source: Health Advocate

There are substantial benefits in supporting employees who are caring for someone with dementia. Some of these benefits include improving productivity, reducing absences and disruption in work schedules, retaining quality employees and enhancing community reputation. Research presented in a 2013 AARP article shows a $3 to $14 return for every $1 companies spend on eldercare benefits for their employees. Taking steps to create a work culture that is flexible and conducive to the needs of employed caregivers is good for business. In Forbes Magazine, Collette Taylor, Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Facilities Management for Astellas states:

"We take a long term vision of our employees-they are as important to us as the products we create or the patients we serve with our products... Our employees are an investment... we took a holistic view of their lifestyles and our role in helping them be healthy, financially secure and happy. This program is not just a source of pride for us, it also makes smart business sense."

The following companies have reported positive results when supporting their employees who are caregivers:

  • Ernst and Young had a significant decrease in turnover after adopting family-friendly policies and benefits that included flexible work arrangements, resulting in an estimated $17 million in savings in turnover costs.
  • Baptist Health South Florida saw a savings of $65,000 in the first nine months following the implementation of a program offering back-up care for their employees who are also caregivers.

Workplace wellness programs may offer value to both employees and employers and may be supported in part by health insurance plans. Including support for family caregivers as a part of workplace wellness offerings can enhance existing programs aimed at meeting the needs of employees. Even small modifications in the workplace may result in benefits in terms of a business's ability to retain valued employees, recruit talented workers, and be a more productive workforce.

Potential benefits of becoming a dementia-friendly employer include:

  • Attracting and retaining the best workers
  • Preserving the historical knowledge and experience of seasoned employees by keeping them in the workplace
  • Reducing costs of recruiting, hiring, and training new employees
  • Reducing health insurance costs
  • Experiencing less absenteeism and fewer disruptions in work schedules
  • Improving productivity, morale, and engagement
  • Enhancing positive image and reputation in the community
  • Remaining competitive
  • Having fewer accidents related to employee stress
  • Simplifying the ability to locate and find resources

The MetLife Mature Market Institute and the National Alliance for Caregivers offer a tool for estimating the cost of eldercare in the workplace. To calculate the potential fiscal impact to your business, visit www.eldercarecalculator.org.

Last Revised: June 21, 2017

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