As an executive or a small business owner, are you aware of the impact that caring for our aging population has on your business? The statistics are interesting:
- In the U.S. approximately 35 percent of all employees provide some level of care to aging family members.
- Family caregivers who work cost businesses $33.6 billion a year in missed work, wasted time, expenses associated with hiring replacement workers, etc.
In your company, right now, you potentially have a third of all your employees caring for an aging parent. The scary part is that this fact isn’t even on the radar of many executives and business owners.
The good news is that there are steps that companies can take to handle these working caregivers challenges and lessen the impact of the associated cost to business.
Your Company Benefits From Helping Working Caregivers
The first step in the process is to realize that your company will benefit by setting up systems and solutions for working caregivers issues. By creating an environment that is friendly to all phases of family life (birth to elderly), you will create a better reputation which will lead to better recruitment and retention. You will also experience financial benefits. The Alfred P. Sloane foundation reports that employers who spend funds on helping with caregiving often see a payback of three to fifteen times the cost of the programs.
Check Your EAP
If your company has an EAP (Employee Assistance Program), check to see what services are offered to help with aging family members. If your EAP doesn’t offer this service, find one that does. Once you know what you already offer, have HR get the word out. Be sure that all employees know of the assistance that is already available to them. Make sure that your Human Resources department has established procedures for handling the needs of working caregivers. And make sure that your management team knows where to send employees who need help with caregiving.
If your company doesn’t have an EAP or if you would like to supplement the help provided by the EAP, there are many creative solutions that can help working caregivers. The good news for small business owners is that there are low cost or practically free solutions out there that would greatly help working caregivers.
Engage the Services of a Geriatric Care Manger (GCM): A GCM is a trained professional who has extensive knowledge of the services available in your area for geriatric patients. An employee may spend weeks of time trying to research available services for their elder family member. Instead, they could spend a couple of hours with a GCM. As a company, you can find a local GCM, place them on retainer for a monthly fee, and provide employees with consultations with the GCM. To find a GCM in your area, visit the National Association of Geriatric Care Managers (http://www.caremanager.org/)
Do Some Research: A creative and low cost aid for employees is to have a member of your HR team compile information about local services for eldercare. Resource packets would then be available for employees who require the information.
Finding solutions for working caregivers isn’t just a nice thing to do; to some extent it is required by law. We are all well aware of the impact of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the importance of making the work place accommodating to working parents. But FMLA also applies to those caring for aging or otherwise incapacitated family members. With your assistance employees may be able to find ways to minimize the missed work and minimize the caregiver stress making them more productive at work.
Being proactive in helping the working, family caregiver will help both your company and the many employees who are and will be family caregivers.