According to a Gallup poll, one out of six full- and part-time working Americans are also a caregiver for a loved one. Usually, a caregiver is an unpaid individual who assists an elderly or disabled family member, relative or friend. The National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP estimate that 70 percent of working caregivers suffer work-related difficulties due to their multiple roles. Also, caregivers are forced to miss an average of 6.6 days of work annually because of their caregiving responsibilities. The annual cost of lost productivity due to caregiver absenteeism amounts to more than $25 billion.
As the baby-boomer generation continues to age, it is likely that younger employees will begin taking on additional caregiver responsibilities. With the generational shifts, caregiving benefits stand to become a top priority in health and benefits.
What are caregiver benefits?
Currently, caregiving benefits take many forms. Of the 129 employers surveyed by the NEBGH (Northeast Business Group on Health) and AARP (American Association of Retired Persons), the following policies are currently available to their workers:
As demonstrated by this data, the majority of employers surveyed permit employees to use their sick, vacation or personal days for caregiving, but few have leave or benefits programs designed specifically for caregivers.
Employers may feel the absence of caregiving benchmarks and best practices, a lack of financial resources and a lack of data to identify caregivers, as reasons why they struggle to become more caregiver-friendly.
How can my organization implement caregiving benefits?
One of the most common caregiving benefits is offering sick, vacation or personal days that can be used for self-care or to care for another. Start by reviewing these policies to consider updates that will help those in caregiving roles and possibly all your employees.
In addition, your organization could create a benefit program designed specifically for caregivers to give employees additional support in the form of extra time off or educational resources, such as free counseling, handouts and discount programs for at-home services.
Consider also implementing a flexible scheduling policy at your organization and train managers and supervisors on how they can support employees who are caregivers. An employee assistance program may also have specific help for caregivers, their families, and any other employees who may have concerns about caregiving. Keep in mind the following general best practices for developing specific caregiver policies:
Implementing caregiving benefits has been a step taken by many employers across the country to help alleviate some of the stressors caregiving employees face. By offering caregiving benefits at your organization, you will not only establish a culture that is supportive of caregivers, but you will also be giving your employees the tools they need to effectively manage their dual responsibilities.
For more HR Know-How and benefit articles, check out our Benefit Resource Center. For guidance on crafting your total benefits package and how it can impact caregivers in your workplace, contact the experts at Austin Benefits Group today.