This caregiving crisis is costing your company

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Your company may be experiencing the impact of a crisis no one is talking about–one that could be costing you productivity and, possibly, your most valuable team members.

Roughly 41.3 million people in the U.S. age 15 and over provide unpaid eldercare to a family member age 65 or older, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. By 2050, the number of people in who have reached or passed the midpoint of their 60s is projected to double, according to U.S. Census data. One in four of these caregivers is a millennial, according to a 2018 AARP report, and 56% are women.

These caretakers–especially those in the “sandwich generation,” helping aging parents or family members while raising children under age 18–are shouldering enormous emotional and financial burdens, as well as increased demands on their time and energy.

And before you say “not my company”–not so fast. A 2019 report by Harvard Business School’s Joseph B. Fuller and Manjari Raman says “many employers remain strangely unaware of the magnitude and impact of the changing demographics of care and their economic consequences.” For example, among the report’s findings:

  • Fifty-two percent of employers don’t track data on their employees’ caregiving responsibilities.
  • Twenty-four percent of employers said that caregiving influenced workers’ performance, but more than 80% of employees with caregiving responsibilities admitted that caregiving affected their productivity.
  • Employees with higher positions and salaries were more likely to leave because of caregiving responsibilities than lower-paid workers.
  • A third of employees who left a position did so to take care of an elder with daily living needs.

More than one-quarter of caregivers (28%) thought that caregiving hurt their careers. For employers, the costs include turnover, decreased productivity, higher absenteeism and healthcare costs, lost institutional knowledge, and more. Fortunately, supporting caregivers appropriately may reduce these costs and help retain key employees.

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