ElderCare Crisis in the Work Force?

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This month’s guest blog is brought to you by Stuart Furman, President of the Southern California Legal Center! Stuart’s law practice focuses on elder law issues and safe solutions for estate planning and long-term care. Contact Stuart at sfurman@socallegalcenter.com. 

I now have two jobs. Work and Caregiver.

My family does not have some divine exemption from becoming a caregiver for parents. I am 56 years old and my wife is 63. We along with my two siblings are providing caregiving services for three remaining parents. Does it affect my work? Does it affect all of our work and personal lives? You bet it does! Will caregiving affect your company’s employees? You bet it will!

The numbers of working caregivers is rising hyperbolically. About 25% of the baby boomers are currently caregiving for their parents in some form. Due to increased life expectancies, it is more common for employees to have to care for parents than in the past. This typically rears its head around age 50 as their parent(s) would then generally be in their 70s or older.

There are significant studies published that indicate the dollar cost to a company in lost productivity of full time working elder caregivers averages $2,211 per employee per year (between &17.1 and $33.6 BILLION per year). Also consider costs due to employees losing focus, undue stress and strain on a marriage and relationships with kids, and even the loss of home time to just relax and recharge.

Is this significant enough that companies and HR departments need to aggressively address this phenomenon?

The answer is simple…YES.

What does this mean for your company?

A substantial percentage of your company’s workforce is already providing ElderCare to their parent(s). This care is emotionally and physically draining and causes a whole buffet of side effects, including loss of concentration when at work, frequent workday interruptions, higher employee turnover, increased use of Family Leave Act for the time off, conversions from full-time to part-time employee status, valued employees quitting to become full time caregivers, and much more. Consider liability exposure due to the work of a less than attentive employee. This is compounded by the increase in personal stress, which can cause an increase in illnesses and use of more health care benefits.

By NOT addressing these eldercare issues in the workplace there IS a clear correlation to your company’s bottom line.

Proactive HR

For an HR department, it is in the best interest of the company to have the employees, and your company, NOT FEAR the ElderCare role but rather BE READY AND PREPARED FOR IT. The ElderCare need will occur, it is only a question of when, for how long, and how much it will cost your company by not aggressively addressing this issue.

When we work with HR departments to institute ElderCare Crisis programs addressing employees as caregivers, the effects of such caregiving on the company can be reduced. There is comfort and a sense of solace with the employees in understanding what is ahead of them and that there are answers and help. Notwithstanding that there are no laws directly requiring organizations to have ElderCare programs in place, the economics of failing to address this problem mandates implementation of a program to address the employee ElderCare tsunami.

In concert with other programs that assist employees, we provide the tools for your employees to navigate the ElderCare challenges.

I look forward to talking with you about how to manage this impeding crisis and how to effectively manage it.

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