We’ve all seen alarming headlines about “The Great Resignation.” Some observers say it shows no signs of letting up. McKinsey recently called it the “quitting trend that just won’t quit.” And data confirms that the “big quit” is real.
In May, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the U.S. voluntary quit rate was 25% higher than pre-pandemic levels. It’s hard to ignore numbers like that. And chances are you’ve experienced this recently in your own organization, as more top performers leave for various reasons.
What’s behind this surge in turnover? The pandemic forced us all to reevaluate what’s most important in life. Now, many are choosing to be more present for family while also juggling a demanding career. But the choice is especially challenging for those with family members who need special care.
This segment of the workforce is larger than you may think. In fact, according to the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers, 1 in 5 American workers also double as an unpaid family caregiver for an aging, ill or disabled loved one. The amount of time they spend on caregiving, in addition to their full-time careers, isn’t trivial. The AARP estimates that these caregivers devote an average of 23.7 hours a week to these tasks.
Therefore, it’s not surprising that employee caregivers are struggling mentally, physically, and financially. Nearly 60% are dealing with clinical depression and anxiety. Experts say they are stretched so thin that the snowball effect of caregiving will cause 1 in 3 to leave the workforce entirely.
New Insights About Employees as Caregivers
A new study entitled “Following The Journey of Family Caregivers” commissioned by Homethrive, Home Instead, and Certification in Long-Term Care (CLTC) sheds more light on how employee caregivers are responding to the pressure.
Nearly 70% of survey respondents who identify as employed said it has been important to rely on paid in-home care because it helps them avoid leaving their job, or because it helps them concentrate better at work.
“I wasn’t surprised to hear (working caregivers) turning more to paid care,” says Eileen J. Tell, a Boston-area researcher who administered the survey. “They cited the importance of doing well at their job and the desire to maintain their job.”
It’s no wonder why working caregivers said they need paid assistance. For example:
- 35% often provide companionship
- 33% often provide transportation help
- 26% often help with daily living activities
- 23% often help arrange care
- 26% often help make care decisions
- 31% always help make home safety changes
Respondents also said if they received help coordinating care, it would take a major load off their already piled-high plates. Specifically:
- 42% want coordination with doctors or care teams
- 38% want assistance in finding service providers
- 34% want help finding benefits eligibility
- 34% want meal delivery coordination
- 32% want recommendations for devices and equipment
- 31% want help assessing home safety
Interestingly, the study found that only 6% of working caregivers receive support from an employer-provided benefit program to help find reliable paid in-home care for loved ones.
What about the other 94% without access to employee caregiving benefits? There is good news. An increasing number of forward-thinking employers are offering these unsung heroes benefits packages that include family caregiving options.
Why is this a wise choice? Employers gain in multiple ways. For example…
Business Benefits of Supporting Employee Caregivers
1. Restore Retention
When employees have an option to access the right kind of assistance, when they need it, they’re less likely to leave. They’re also more focused and productive at work. Offering this benefit can position you as an employer who cares about worker wellbeing on all levels—which in turn fosters a sense of company loyalty.
2. Rev-Up Recruitment
You want to attract the best employees possible. Offering a family caregiving benefit is one way to excel at recruiting because your company will appeal to candidates who value an employer with compassion, a concern for families, and a sense of community.
3. Improve Employee Wellbeing
According to Mercer’s 2022 Global Talent Trends study, employee wellbeing programs are among the top five reasons why people remain at a company. Caregiving can be a time-consuming and emotionally draining responsibility. A family caregiving benefit helps take some of this burden off your employees and improves their wellbeing.
4. Increase Productivity
Time is money. And caregiving can take up a lot of time.
One employee might spend hours on the phone setting up doctor appointments for an aging parent, while another might leave work frequently to take a special needs child to therapy.
It all takes time away from the workday, decreases productivity, and increases employee stress. But with a family caregiving benefit, employees and their loved ones will receive higher quality support when it matters most, so your business productivity will flourish.
5. Revolutionize Work-Life Balance
A family caregiving benefit can drastically improve work-life balance. When employees continually put others’ care ahead of self-care, it can translate into mental and physical health issues such as exhaustion, depression, and anxiety. Those issues inflate your company’s healthcare costs.
When a caregiver’s mindset has shifted to a “life-work tilt,” career advancement, salary increases, and professional praise are important. But quality time with loved ones, the opportunity to explore passions outside of work, and overall mental wellbeing are also critical.
Leaning into this “life-work tilt” can have multiple advantages. By proactively acknowledging the needs and responsibilities of family caregivers and offering tangible support, you can set your organization apart. And when your employees find a better balance between work and life, they can focus better, be more productive, and stay loyal to your company.
6. Protect Your Bottom Line
High turnover is expensive. The cost often extends beyond investing in recruitment to replace lost workers. For example, institutional knowledge and team morale also suffer. In addition, productivity can take a hit, which in turn, can reduce innovation and growth. Ultimately, this negative spiral can prevent your company from reaching its full potential.
A Solution That Helps Employees and Employers
Family caregiving benefits are a win-win.
They’re a win for employers because they help improve workforce wellbeing, retention, and productivity—all while protecting your bottom line.
They’re also a win for employees because they help support work-life balance, mental health, and job satisfaction.
As Eileen Tell explains, “I think it’s key that employers understand how important it is to family caregivers to feel like they don’t have to choose between their jobs and their role as a family caregiver. Employees may look like they’re not paying attention to work, but they really don’t want to compromise their job and they don’t want to skimp on their family responsibilities.”