Caregivers in the Workplace Series: 5 Reasons Employers Should Offer Caregiver Benefits to Employees

There are nearly 44 million caregivers in the U.S., the majority of who are also employed.  The typical caregiver is a female in her late 40s providing nearly 25 hours of care per week to her mother, for an average of 4 years (men are also increasingly taking on caregiver responsibilities). 

Not surprisingly, family caregivers carry a heavy burden as they try to balance their careers and their own families with the demands of caring for their loved ones.  This can have serious health, financial, emotional and professional consequences for the caregiver. 

Employers are also impacted by caregiving; on average, they lose more than $2,000 per year for each employee who is a caregiver. This loss is attributed to the costs associated with replacing employees, absenteeism, workday distractions, and a reduction in hours.  Employers have an opportunity to play a significant role in easing caregivers’ burden through benefits tailored to their unique circumstances.  

Here are 5 reasons employers should offer benefits to caregivers:

1.    Attract and Retain Women – Since the majority of caregivers are women, benefits designed for this group can help companies attract and retain women or those workers who are looking for a family-friendly work environment.  This can be an important differentiator in competitive industries like consulting, law and finance, where careers are particularly demanding and women may exit the workforce or defer a promotion, believing that they would not be able to juggle intense work demands with family responsibilities. 

2.    Reduce Health Insurance Costs – Caregivers often experience great stress and neglect their own physical and emotional health when caring for their loved ones, leading to increased healthcare costs. According to a MetLife study, employers paid approximately 8% more for the health care of caregiver employees compared to non-caregivers, potentially costing U.S. businesses $13.4 billion per year. By offering benefits that enable caregivers’ to more easily care for their loved ones, companies are helping caregivers take better care of themselves, which can lead to better health outcomes and lower costs.

3.    Increase Productivity and Reduce Absenteeism – U.S. businesses lose up to an estimated $33.6B per year in lost productivity from full-time working caregivers.  By providing access to resources, support and other benefits, employers can make it easier for caregivers to find services and solutions for their loved ones and, in turn, gain peace of mind that allows them to be more focused on their jobs.

4.    Prevent Talent Drain – Some caregivers find that working and caring for their loved ones is just too much.  Nearly 20% of employees leave the workforce earlier than planned to care for a family member.  Many of these employees are mid- to senior-level professionals in the prime of their career, which can leave big gaps for employers to fill. Providing additional support and resources for caregivers can prevent early retirements.

5.    Promote a Culture of Diversity and Inclusion – As companies increasingly look to differentiate themselves as employers of choice and brand themselves as innovators, they need to develop a diverse workforce comprised of different cultures, genders, races and viewpoints.  Providing benefits to caregivers should be part of an overall inclusion strategy to attract and maintain a diverse workforce. 

COMING SOON Part Two in the Caregivers in the Workplace Series:  4 Caregiver Benefits Employers Should Promote