While estimates vary, the consensus is that in the U.S. today, at least one in six employees is a caregiver for a relative or friend. These unpaid caregivers spend more than 20 hours a week in care-related activities on average. The cost to employers of this largely unsupported care is considerable. Between medical costs, turnover, and lost productivity related to absenteeism and presentism, caregiving can cost organizations up to $33.6 billion per year.
It’s not surprising that 72% of the 500 HR leaders recently surveyed by Care.com are aligning their benefit strategies to support the key business objective of “boosting productivity.” And strikingly, 65% believe that increasing child and senior care benefits will help them increase workplace productivity (with only modest variation based on company size). Eighty-eight percent cite child care benefits and 86% report senior care benefits as having a positive impact. So too, does mental health support, with 87% seeing it as an aid to productivity.
But demand for these types of benefits is still exceeding supply.
Employees Want (and Need) Caregiving Benefits
A recent survey of 509 employed family caregivers by the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers found that some of the benefits caregivers report using the most, and say were the most helpful, are not offered by most employers. Among these, specialized caregiver services were among the most rarely offered and the most frequently used.
Employers are starting to get the message. Fifty-nine percent of our respondents in our survey indicated that they are hearing requests for child care benefits—more than are actually offering them. That’s why 57% plan to start to prioritize child care offerings and 51% will add senior care.
The perceived power of these benefits (along with mental health support) spans industries and worker classifications. But the industries that most often chose “increasing employee productivity” as the business objective to which their benefits package is aligned (79% of technology respondents, 76% of those in manufacturing/construction, 72% each in education and in finance/insurance/consulting) are the same industries taking the lead in their expansion of caregiver benefits.
Access to Care is Good for Employees, and Good for Business
The central ingredients of good caregiving—commitment, reliability, compassion, and focus—can also be exhibited by employees on the job when they don’t have to spend as much time worrying about their loved one’s care. That’s why not only do employers who offer caregiving benefits frequently see productivity gains, but they help generate another advantage: When these benefits are available, being a caregiver helps employees perform better in their jobs.
Offering caregiver benefits is a win/win proposition, supporting productivity gains for employers and both increased performance and peace of mind for employees. Read more about the specific details on what our research and that of other organizations reveal about the productivity impact of caregiving benefits.
To learn more about how employers perceive and plan to use benefit strategies to support numerous business objectives—which also include supporting recruitment and retention and enhancing DEI initiatives—download the full Future of Benefits report.