In today’s world, employers strive to maximize profits by maximizing employee productivity. But the looming “silver tsunami” will have employers looking for ways to support employees outside of the office.
The U.S. Census Bureau expects that the U.S. population 65 and older will double by 2050. Meanwhile, the number of working-age adults or children will increase by only 15 percent. The ratio of potential caregivers to seniors is expected to fall below 4:1 by 2030 – from 7:1 in 2010, the Urban Institute projects.
The Alzheimer’s Association estimates 57 percent of the 10 million family caregivers for people with dementia are employed either full or part time. One 2011 survey estimated that caregiver absenteeism costs the U.S. economy $25.2 billion in lost productivity.
Given the challenges that family caregivers face, it’s in employers’ best interest to support them with a variety of policies and resources.
Incorporate flexible work-life policies. According to www.workforce.com, employees rank “workplace flexibility” as equally important to them as their healthcare benefits. Flexible work-life schedules allow caregivers to balance their responsibilities at home and at work. Practices like allowing employees to work from home a few days a week, working partial days in the office, or leveraging technology for meetings can reduce stress for caregiving employees.
Inform employees about the Family Medical Leave Act. Although many individuals are eligible for FMLA, there is generally a lot of confusion over it. Under FMLA, employees of public agencies and companies with 50 or more employees are eligible to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to care for their own needs or the needs of a spouse, child, or close family member. Learn more about the Family Medical Leave Act here.
Create internal support groups. By creating support and resource groups for caregivers, organizations not only provide employees with a supportive environment to talk with others about the issues they are facing, but also create a stronger community among their workforce. Human resources professionals can also help by inviting guest speakers to present as a part of an educational series.
Offer a benefits package that can assist with legal and financial planning. One of the most stressful aspects of caring for an aging parent is getting their financial matters in order. Many companies now offer consultation services with attorneys, financial planners, and tax advisers as part of their benefits packages.
Provide employees with tools and resources. When the human resources staff has information aboutvarious resources in the community they can be a valuable source to employees. There are many freeand fee-based services offered to ease the burden of caregiving. ElderServe, Louisville’s largest non-profit dedicated to senior services, offers 12 programs that support not only older adults, but their caregivers, too. For example, our Adult Day Health Center allows caregivers to leave their loved on in a safe place during work hours. Our HomeCare program provides respite for caregivers. For more information, call 502. 587.8673.
Most individuals, at some point in their lives, will become a caregiver. When businesses help their employees balance work with life, everybody wins.