Roughly 60% of the workforce belongs to the sandwich generation. Not based on a proclivity for hoagies, but named for their precarious position wedged between the demands of caring for dependent children and aging parents, these employees are struggling to juggle caregiving demands and careers.
Numerous studies, including some conducted by The MetLife Mature Market Institute (MMI) and the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) have analyzed the impact of family caregiving in the workplace. According to The MetLife Caregiving Cost Study: Productivity Losses to U.S. Business (2006), employee absenteeism, workplace disruptions, and reduced output associated with caregiving costs businesses between $17.1 and $33.6 billion per year.¹
Caregiving employees also report poorer health and more chronic disease than non-caregivers, leading to increased healthcare costs for employers. Research shows increased healthcare costs for caregivers are potentially costing U.S. employers an additional estimated $13.4 billion per year.
The caregiving challenge reminds me of a pre-flight safety speech, specifically the part demonstrating proper oxygen mask protocol. It goes something like this, “In the event of a decompression, an oxygen mask will automatically appear in front of you…. If you are traveling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask first, and then assist the other person.”
Working caregivers are passengers on a turbulent flight. Juggling the full-time demands of work and caregiving can be disruptive, stressful and costly. If employees aren’t given adequate tools to cope with these new demands, employers will ultimately pay a price. Caregiver Support programs are an oxygen mask, providing employees the help they need to stay productive, engaged, and present at work.
As our population ages (the number of Americans ages 65 and older is projected to more than double from 46 million today to over 98 million by 2060²), this group of sandwiched employees will grow, contributing to new challenges in the workplace. How do we keep these employees healthy, present and focused amidst these increasing demands? How do we mitigate the impact this burden will have on healthcare costs?
It’s no small feat, but there are tools to help.
Caregiving Support services are becoming an essential employee benefit. Providing tools to reduce employee stress and anxiety, minimize absenteeism, maintain productivity, and decrease turnover, Caregiving Support benefits are a crucial tool for employers as the percentage of family caregivers in the workplace steadily rises.
Many Caregiving Support programs exist, providing dedicated coaches or a secure communication portal. One service, Cariloop, combines both. Coaches provide personal support and decision-making guidance, easing employee stress and providing peace of mind, while Cariloop’s web and mobile platform provides employees a secure place to collaborate with their dedicated healthcare coach, store important documents and communicate with family members and a designated caregiving team. The platform significantly reduces the amount of time required to communicate individually with an entire support network and eliminates time spent mailing or faxing documents back and forth. Employees caring for a family member devote 20 hours per week on average to caregiving³, making time saving tools and support critical. The online communication hub keeps everyone informed, and provides access to medical and legal documents and real-time updates, despite physical distance between loved ones.
2: Fact Sheet: Aging in the United States – Population Reference Bureau – www.prb.org/Publications/Media-Guides/2016/aging-unitedstates-fact-sheet.aspx
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