Because of our aging population, more people over the age of 65 are facing caregiving & employment struggles. A significant portion of people at retirement age are at risk of having to care for a parent. Some of these workers may also be caring for a spouse.
Caregiving is largely an unpaid, family responsibility. However, this responsibility is already causing a decrease in employment, productivity, and innovation. Neither of these facts is sustainable.
Currently, 22% of retirees left the workforce early due to competing caregiving and employment struggles. Additionally, 25% of Alzheimer’s caregivers are sandwiched between caring for parents and children.
At first glance, it would be understandable if corporations thought being part of the solution was expensive. Thankfully, the opposite is true. Organizations can gain a competitive advantage by becoming a caring corporation with little financial outlay.
What Can Corporations Do?
Good news amongst such a challenge. The purpose of this episode is to spark conversations on solving this growing crisis. A study by Harvard Business School (Focus on Work) lays out 6 suggestions. Most of the suggestions add to duties already in practice. One of the most important things a corporation can do is listen. Employees need to be open about their caregiving and employment struggles.
The study suggests that employers understand that caregiving employees are committed to their jobs. We still have outdated assumptions that this is not the case. Allowing workplace flexibility is crucial for employees at all levels of caregiving. This can include child-rearing and eldercare.
For hourly employees do away with no-fault absenteeism policies. Understanding their struggles will differentiate dedicated employees from others. Knowing that they are dedicated to their jobs, just pulled in many directions makes a difference.
Provide education and training about having caregivers on the job. Also important, train managers to understand caregiver discrimination. This benefits the organization in many ways, not just the employee.
Offering eldercare support, resources and referral services can help tremendously. Most family caregivers end up in their situation due to an emergency. This situation does not allow for planning or research. The availability of these resources is nearly a no-cost benefit with huge rewards.
Implementing recruitment practices that recognize the unique variety of skills caregivers acquire. Understanding these unique skills will benefit organizations tremendously.
Regardless of the industry, all organizations can easily become caring companies. Coupled with being the morally right thing to do caring companies can also gain a competitive advantage.