Employees spend inordinate amounts of time managing their own
affairs on the job. This is particularly true for people
with senior parents or children who have to monitor activities and
Getting Your Employees'
Attention Back to Work
It is 9:00 am on a Monday
morning. Do you know where your employees’ attention is? Is it
Picture this. You are at work.
The phone rings. It is your aging father’s neighbor calling to
say that Dad is walking around outside in his pajamas and seems
confused. You have a full day of meetings and deadlines. Your
heart sinks as you try to figure out how to care for your dad and
keep your job.
The phone rings again. This time
it is the school nurse saying that your asthmatic child is having
According to the American
Productivity Audit, one-third of respondents said dependent health
concerns were a top reason employees were not able to focus on
their job while at work.
What you may not know is that the
situations above can just as likely happen to a working woman as
to a working man. However if a woman gets the troubling phone
call, she is more likely to talk about it at work while the man
will not (2003 National Alliance for Caregiving national survey).
Millions of working adults - men
and women - are juggling the competing demands of caring for a
chronically ill or disabled parent, raising a family, and managing
Working caregivers sacrifice
leisure time, and often suffer stress-related illnesses. Negative
effects on working caregivers include time lost from work, lower
productivity, quitting a job to provide care, lost career
opportunities and lower future earnings. Eventually, some 16
percent quit their jobs to provide care full-time. Work
disruptions due to employee caregiving responsibilities result in
productivity losses of $1,142 per year per employee. According to
the Washington Post, researchers estimate that the cost of
informal caregiving in terms of lost productivity to U.S.
businesses is $29 billion annually.
Caregiving Takes Work-Life Toll
A recent MetLife study dubbed
"Juggling Act" revealed some of the productivity-killing
adjustments that caregivers choose to make to their work
make phone calls
arrive late or leave early
take time off during the workday
make up work at another time
addition, a national survey conducted by the National Alliance for
Caregiving in 1997 found that two in ten working caregivers turned
down the opportunity to work on special projects; almost as many
avoided work-related travel. Forty percent of the survey
respondents said that caregiving affected their ability to advance
in their jobs.
Employers Can Do
are seven measures you can take to reduce employee stress,
increase productivity and decrease lost work time due to employee
have a stake in designing responsive and effective programs to
support their caregiving employees. Research has demonstrated that
the cost to employers of lost productivity and other factors
related to caregiving employees’ difficulty in balancing work
and family is high.
"cafeteria style" employee benefits which allow
employees to select supplemental dependent care coverage to
reimburse costs for in-home care or adult day care. Benefits
also should cover therapeutic counseling for employees to help
cope with the stresses of caregiving.
information on helpful Internet sites or resource
in-house caregiver support groups or coordinate with local
community groups or hospitals so that employees can attend an
outside support group.
of the most critical benefits for an employee with caregiving
responsibilities is time. Flexible work hours, family illness
days, and leave time are key. Data from the Bureau of National
Affairs (1993) found that flexible scheduling improved job
performance, decreased lateness and employee turnover, and
increased job satisfaction.
with 50 or more employees must comply with the Family and
Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which allows for up to 12 weeks of
unpaid leave to care for a seriously ill parent, spouse or
child, while protecting job security. Smaller firms can use
the FMLA guidelines to provide support for individual
a company "caregiver fair" or a series of lunchtime
seminars on issues such as health care planning before a
crisis hits or coping skills for caregivers.
private long-term care insurance coverage for employees, their
spouses, and dependents.
action immediately starts to increase productivity, lessen direct
and indirect financial costs, and enhance employer/employee
work/life relationship – which directly impacts on employee
morale, satisfaction and retention.