Family caregivers are the backbone of long-term care in the United States, and supporting them is mission-critical for today’s business leaders. Balancing their own lives and careers, dedicated primary caregivers provide essential daily support and manage the needs of loved ones, often with little or no financial assistance. 

Today’s workforce is brimming with talent from the “sandwich generation,” juggling childcare and eldercare while excelling in their full-time roles. These Gen Xers and Millennials bring a wealth of experience and dedication to their organizations and losing experienced talent means a decline in overall productivity and profitability.

Caregiver employees are devoted superheroes. They juggle work with the vital role of caretaking, and their well-being is paramount to organizational success. By offering flexible, personalized benefits, companies have a fantastic opportunity to empower people, boost financial security, and fuel total wellness.

In this article, we’ll explore ways employers can support employee caregivers in the workplace. 

Here’s what we’ll cover:

 

The core challenges of caregiving 

A growing crisis

According to Pew Research, every day 10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65. In the coming years, the caregiving crisis will worsen. Medical advancements resulting in shorter hospital stays leave families to bring loved ones home with little preparation to take over complex medical care. A growing generation of caregivers tasked with eldercare finds little support and no roadmap to follow.

Studies consistently show that caregivers skimp on their health—they don’t eat well, they don’t sleep well, and they don’t exercise or make time to see their doctors… Research even suggests that caregivers who report high levels of emotional and mental strain have a higher risk of death.

Why it matters 

Nearly 1 in 5 Americans are unpaid caregivers, according to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). That’s more than 53 million unpaid caregivers in the United States alone. More than 75% of these caregivers are female and the average caregiver provides around 25 hours of care each week to an adult family member. 

Today’s global caregiving crisis impacts employee retention, well-being, and productivity. Ignoring this crisis comes at a great cost to employers, employees, and their families. According to a 2021 report from Blue Cross Blue Shield, the economic effect of caregiving is estimated at nearly $44 billion. Caretakers suffer a loss of 656,000 jobs each year, and an additional 791,000 grapple with absenteeism at work. 

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Losing valuable talent 

Unpaid caregiving, whether eldercare or childcare, takes a huge personal and financial toll on employees, especially women. According to Maven Clinic, 43% of new moms don’t return to work after leave, and 53% of employees want more support balancing family care and their jobs. While returnships can help those employees return to work after a career pause, companies should aim to prevent those job losses at all costs.

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The hidden toll on health 

Studies consistently show that caregivers skimp on their health—they don’t eat well, they don’t sleep well, and they don’t exercise or make time to see their doctors. According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, caregivers are more likely to suffer symptoms of depression and anxiety than non-caregivers. Research even suggests that caregivers who report high levels of emotional and mental strain have a higher risk of death.

Family care reimbursements and SDOH

Download / Espresa Benchmark and Trends Report 2023

5 ways to support caregivers in the workplace 

Caregiver employee benefits provide much-needed help to employees tasked with any caregiving role, from childcare to eldercare. Here are 5 ways employers can support their employee caregivers:

1. Offer paid leave 

Offering paid family leave and sick leave is a significant step towards alleviating the caregiving crisis and supporting employee caregivers. These policies provide much-needed flexibility and financial security during times of unexpected illness or family needs.

With family leave, employees can take time off to welcome a newborn, care for a sick child, or attend to an aging parent’s health concerns without fear of job loss or financial hardship. Similarly, sick leave allows employees to address their health or the health of their immediate family without choosing between work and a loved one’s well-being. 

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2. Support employee well-being 

Employers can significantly buffer against the strains of caregiving by prioritizing employees’ physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Comprehensive healthcare and inclusive benefits, including mental health coverage, can ensure caregivers have access to resources to manage stress, anxiety, and potential burnout

On-site wellness programs like yoga classes or meditation sessions provide caregivers with tools to manage their physical and mental health. Support for well-being equips caregivers with the resilience they need to navigate the demands of work and family life.

3. Build a network of support 

Foster a culture of open communication and empathy to encourage employees to discuss caregiving challenges. Connection reduces feelings of isolation and empowers employees to seek support from colleagues or supervisors.

Creating or supporting caregiver-specific communities fosters a sense of belonging and allows employees to share experiences, find emotional support, and learn coping strategies from peers facing similar challenges.

4. Provide flexible work options

A child gets sick unexpectedly, a daycare might close due to unforeseen circumstances, or an elderly parent or spouse has a sudden medical need. Fixed schedules leave caregivers scrambling to manage these disruptions, leading to stress, absenteeism, or attrition. The single most important thing for working caregivers is flexibility.

Flexible work arrangements are a cornerstone of supporting caregiver employees. By offering options like remote work, compressed workweeks, or flexible start and end times, employers empower their people to manage responsibilities with greater ease. Flexible work empowers a culture that recognizes the importance of a healthy work-life balance, especially for employees juggling care duties.

5. Fund caregiving stipends

A caregiving stipend is a regular fixed amount of money employees receive from their employer as financial assistance and support for their caregiving responsibilities. Caregiver stipends are a type of family support stipend. Other stipends employers offer to support employees’ family members include adoption assistance, fertility support, and childcare benefits.

Caregiver stipends, including childcare stipends and eldercare stipends, are monthly, quarterly, or annual recurring payments to employee caregivers. Some organizations offer a flat-rate payment to all caregivers while others cover a certain percentage of out-of-pocket expenses.

LSA-funded caregiver stipends empower employees to choose the perfect support for loved ones, easing the caregiving burden. By offering this innovative benefit to your caregiver workforce, you’ll attract and retain top talent, fueling success and keeping your organization ahead of the curve.

Why caregiving stipends are the ultimate benefit

The beauty of LSA-funded stipends lies in their flexibility. Caregiving stipends are your employees’ secret weapon against caregiving stress! This flexible benefit helps them tackle a range of challenges, from medical bills and prescriptions to in-home care and essential supplies. Invest in your employees’ well-being and retention by offering this valuable support.

In today’s evolving world, workplaces are stepping up to support their employees’ well-being with strategic lifestyle benefits. Employees can utilize LSA funds for caregiving, mental health support, on-site wellness programs, and respite care. Offer your people a wealth of resources to support their total well-being while they care for their loved ones.

Power healthier and happier workplaces with a Lifestyle Spending Account (LSA) from Espresa, Show your dedication to your people’s success, both at work and at home. Contact our team to learn more about Espresa and schedule a demo!

 

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