How Employer Caregiving Support can Benefit Caregivers
by Tricia Sandiego, AARP Senior Advisor, Caregiving and Health
The COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed our healthcare system. It’s also dramatically transformed the way we work.
Out of necessity, many industries had to alter their workplace culture and processes to stay nimble and productive in challenging times. This included flexibility to help employees juggle the demands of the new normal.
This was an especially welcome change for caregivers.
Caregiving impacts all stages of life
At first glance, most people think of paid family leave as a benefit for new parents who are starting a family. But caring for an older member of your family is just as important and even more challenging – both logistically and financially.
Caregiving tends to favor new parents
Despite the recent refocus on flexibility for some organizations, providing care for adults is still a struggle for many working people. That’s because family caregivers spend an average of 18 hours per week providing care, and nearly one in four caregivers spend 41 hours or more per week providing care. And, unlike parental leave, family caregiving isn’t as predictable or defined. It can last for years and has more uncertainty.
Despite the difference in time commitments, companies offer more robust paid parental leave policies for new parents than for those with family caregiving responsibilities. S&P Global recently teamed up with AARP to survey 53 companies in the S&P 1200, which includes the 1,200 largest companies in the world, to see how caregiving policies and benefits compare between new parents and family caregivers.
The study found that:
- 42% of parents said their companies offered paid family leave when their child was born
- 22% of family caregivers said their companies offer paid family leave designated for caregiving for adults
This study also found that some companies aren’t as familiar with the issue of family caregiving for adults.
For parents caring for young children:
- 28.3% of companies considered themselves very knowledgeable
- 66% were somewhat knowledgeable
- 5.7% were not knowledgeable
For family caregivers of adults:
- 20.8% of companies considered themselves very knowledgeable
- 47.2% were somewhat knowledgeable
- 32.1% were not knowledgeable
These numbers suggest that a lack of awareness may explain why support for parents of young children is stronger than for family caregivers.
Flexibility can be good for business
Many corporations have responded to the growing needs of their employees by expanding the benefits they offer, but the expansion has been uneven among parents and family caregivers. This could potentially push some employees out of the workforce, as the number of people needing care is only expected to rise as boomers reach older adulthood.
Expanding the benefits a company offers can help keep your workforce in place. S&P Global and AARP found that companies reporting the lowest voluntary turnover rates tended to offer more benefits to family caregivers and parents. Companies in the survey with more generous family-friendly policies also produced stronger returns.
Companies seem to recognize that more generous policies contribute to their bottom lines. Two-thirds of respondents to the S&P study believe that supporting family caregivers supports the bottom line, while 74% of respondents believe that supporting parents of children age five or younger leads to stronger financial results.
Knowing who your caregivers are
It’s easy to assume older employees are the ones most likely to carry the burden of caregiving challenges, but the landscape is changing:
As you can see, caregivers are diverse. And over 70% of employees are likely members of a group that is under-supported by diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) efforts
Caregivers are impacted by gender, ethnicity, age and identity:
- Women pay the price - Working female caregivers may suffer a particularly high level of economic hardship due to caregiving, as most spend up to 50% more time than men caring for loved ones.
- Men are not treated equally - Social norms falsely assume that men are the sole breadwinner and won’t have enough time to prioritize caregiving.
- LGBTQ employees have families in need, too - LGBTQIA caregivers may not be receiving the same family leave, family-building medical coverage, dependent care or other benefits that other employee caregivers receive.
- African American employees are often younger caregivers - The average age of African American caregivers is 43 (which is younger than the average population), and they spend more of their income on caregiving expenses.
- Latinx employees carry a heavy care load - They have the highest reported rate (43%) of caregiving among any other racial or ethnic group.
- Asian American and Pacific Islanders focus on caregiving at home – They are two times more likely to care for elders than the general population of the same age.
Take action to help all of your employees with an AARP workshop
Whether you’re interested in how offering caregiving support can help your DE&I goals or learning why only half of working family caregivers tell their supervisors about their caregiving, we can help. AARP has created a series of in-person and virtual workshops for employees to provide resources on family caregiving for every need. These workshops can help you create a more inclusive culture in your workplace for caregivers by providing your employees with the tools they need to thrive at work and at home.
Free workshop series for your organization
Learn more about setting up a free customized workshop or series for your organization by selecting from the topics below:
1. Caregiving as a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) Challenge and Opportunity
2. How Every Employee Resource Group (ERG) Can Support Family Caregivers
3. Navigating My Workplace as a Caregiver
4. Preparing to Become a Family Caregiver
5. Preparing to Age at Home
6. Self-care for Family Caregivers
7. Financial Well-being for Family Caregivers
8. The Sandwich Generation: Caring for Kids & Adults
9. Making the Most of My Benefits as a Caregiver
10. Manager Training: Leading a Team That is Caregiver-Inclusive
After each workshop, AARP creates a landing page for your organization to share with your employees, which includes a PDF of the presentation and links to supporting resources. This way, your team will always know where to go to find the resources they need.
About Tricia Sandiego
As a Senior Advisor for AARP’s Caregiving & Health team, I am a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) experienced in health communication and public health research and practice. My passion is educating older adults and their families on caregiving and health care through programs, online tools and resources. I lead caregiving employer outreach for AARP, and I am here to offer you practical tips, guidance and free resources on how to provide support for your working family caregivers.
If you have any questions, please see our workshops page or contact me directly at TSandiego@aarp.org.