Faced with a rapid increase in the number of caregivers in the workplace, Northeast Business Group on Health (NEBGH) and AARP have launched Supporting Caregivers in the Workplace: A Practical Guide for Employers. The guide, the human resources industry’s first publication of its kind, contains a series of tools, resources, and guidance to help employers of all sizes create workplace policies to help support employees who are family caregivers. One in six U.S. employees is a caregiver for a relative or friend, according to research by Family Caregiver Alliance. It has been estimated that U.S. businesses lose more than $25 billion annually in lost productivity due to absenteeism among full-time working caregivers, according to AARP. The estimate grows to $28 billion when part-time working caregivers are included.
“Employers’ interest in offering family caregiving benefits and services is growing, and with good reason,” said Candice Sherman, interim CEO of NEBGH. “The rate of employee caregiving is increasing, which presents more challenges for employers. But employers have a unique opportunity to support employees in managing the continuum of their care-related obligations in a way that can also reap rewards in the form of an engaged and productive workforce, a competitive edge in retaining and recruiting employees, a reduction in healthcare costs, and an increase in employee loyalty. That’s one of the main reasons we developed the employer guide.”
The guide provides employers with the essential information they need to understand family caregiving issues, the challenges facing both employers and employees, and what employers can do to create and implement successful workplace caregiving policies and programs. The 54-page guide is divided into several major sections beginning with an overview of the business case for workplace caregiving programs. One main section focuses on how employers can create a caregiving-friendly workplace with tips on how to develop a culture of awareness, build effective policies and programs, secure management buy-in, and implement programs successfully. The balance of the guide includes an exhaustive list of resources and tools on workplace support for caregiving, as well as a self-assessment on caregiving programs that employers can use for their own purposes.
“Family caregiving is an issue that affects the vast majority of us. We are either caregivers now, have been in the past, will be in the future, or will need care ourselves,” said AARP Chief Advocacy and Engagement Officer Nancy LeaMond. “Of today’s 40 million family caregivers, 24 million are juggling caregiving responsibilities and employment. By recognizing and supporting their needs, employers can improve productivity and foster a stable and healthy workforce….”
“The idea that life can get in the way of work is nothing new for employers,” said Jeremy Nobel, MD, MPH, and executive director of NEBGH’s Solutions Center. “Many companies have sought to be responsive to employees’ family obligations by crafting generous maternity and parental leave policies, and by redefining how sick days can be used. But caring intermittently or on a long-term basis for aging or ill relatives or friends is often seen as a different proposition and creates different challenges and issues. This guide gives employers the tools and resources they need to develop and promote caregiving benefits.”
The free guide and other caregiving resources can be accessed at www.nebgh.org/family-caregiving-login.