Approximately 34.2 million Americans are caregivers to recipients age 50 or older, according to a 2020 research report published by the National Alliance for Caregiving. Rising caregiver responsibilities have made it challenging for many adult workers to maintain productivity in the workplace while caring for an elderly parent or family member at home.
As a result, many businesses have been affected financially. A MetLife Study of Working Caregivers and Employer Health Costs revealed that U.S. businesses suffer a loss between $17.1 billion and $33 billion each year due to lost productivity.
To support employees with their caregiving roles, many businesses are now offering elder care benefits.
What are Elder Care Benefits?
Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993, eligible employees are entitled to job-protected leave for certain family and medical reasons. While the FMLA can provide caregivers with some much-needed relief, it does have its limitations.
First, the leave is unpaid, leaving employees without an income to help care for their loved ones and household obligations. Also, the definition of a family member is restricted to a parent, spouse or child.
Today, many employers offer an employee assistance program (EAP) that provides employees and their household members with referral services and educational services for elder care.
EAP services often include short-term counseling, confidential assessments and follow-up services. Employee assistance programs are also designed to address a wide range of health issues, from grief and psychological disorders to alcohol and substance abuse.
Backup elder care benefits may provide caregivers with ongoing support and temporary relief from their caregiving duties. The two main types of elder care benefits include:
- Dependent Care Assistance Plans – These types of plans automatically deduct elder care costs from an employee’s paycheck prior to taxes. Approximately 41 percent of employers currently offer this benefit, according to Forbes.
- Respite Care – Businesses that offer respite care are far fewer, accounting for just 7 percent of companies. Respite care services provide caregivers with short-term relief from their caregiving duties when employees need time off, to rest or to go into work.
Some organizations may also offer other types of elder care benefits, such as flexible work options. Businesses may give eligible employees the option to work from home or retain flexible hours. Paid time off (PTO) is also another perk of most elder care benefit offerings.
When employees are not able to care for their loved ones, benefits such as care subsidies can become invaluable. This benefit is designed to help employees with the cost of elder care by covering backup care, or direct costs.
Elder care benefits may also involve the creation of onsite caregiver support groups for employees. Through these support groups, employees can speak with other coworkers who may be experiencing similar challenges with balancing their work and home lives. Many caregivers find that opening up about these issues can be helpful.
Why Offer Elder Care Benefits?
Employees that double as caregivers often experience higher levels of stress and may encounter low productivity in the office. Through elder care benefits, businesses can help reduce these risks and avoid the potential loss of a talented employee. Here are some of the top reasons why businesses should consider offering elder care benefits to employees:
1. Boost Productivity in the Workplace
The demands of caregiving are high and often become more significant as time goes on. According to a study by The Caring Company, which surveyed 300 human resources leaders and 1,500 employees to gain a better understanding of the importance of caregiving benefits, approximately one-third of those surveyed admitted that their work has suffered due to their additional caregiving duties.
The study also revealed that 24 percent of employees saw a loss of productivity in the workplace. When elder care benefits become part of a comprehensive benefits package, employees can gain some relief from their caregiving duties and place more focus on workplace productivity.
2. Increase Employee Retention Rates
Employee retention rates can greatly suffer when businesses do not recognize the importance of elder care benefits. Approximately one-third of employees say that they voluntarily left at least one job due to an inability to balance their work and caregiving responsibilities, according to research published by The Caring Company.
Elder care benefits also play a role in recruiting top talent. Businesses that take the necessary steps to provide elder care benefits often experience an increase in employee retention rates and the ability to attract experienced job seekers.
3. Provide Employees with Financial Support
The financial aspect of caregiving can be significant. As seniors grow older, their medical needs and level of attention also increase. Caregivers may be responsible for the cost of medications, equipment and other supplies needed to care for their family members.
Money issues can lead to other problems for employees, such as stress, depression and other mental health conditions which can impact their ability to be happy and productive in the workplace. By offering elder care benefits to workers, employees become better equipped to care for their aging loved one without the overwhelming emotions that can accompany financial problems.
4. Avoid Absenteeism and Employees Running Late
When most people are given the choice between family and work, they naturally choose family. This often means that the businesses they serve suffer the consequences when employees are forced to go into work late or take the day off to care for their loved one. Elder care benefits help employees get the help and resources they need to avoid tardiness and absenteeism, and ensures that businesses have a full workforce in place to keep operations running smoothly.
Speak with an Experienced Employee Benefits Consultant
Helping employees maintain a healthy work-life balance is critical for the well-being of employees and the long-term success of a business. By providing elder care benefits as part of an employee benefits package, companies can help prevent employees from becoming overwhelmed, and retain a workforce of happy and healthy employees. To learn more about why businesses should offer elder care benefits to employees or to speak with an experienced employee benefits consultant, contact Business Benefits Group today.