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August 14, 2017
Study Cites Growing Importance of Caregiving for Employers

Caregiving is becoming a top priority among employers’ health and wellness benefits, according to a recent survey. In addition, more than three-quarters of the 129 employers that responded to this survey agreed that caregiving would gain importance over the next 5 years.

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family caregivingThe Northeast Business Group on Health (NEBGH) surveyed these companies’ benefits managers to measure current workplace attitudes toward caregiving, and to give employers a way to assess how “caregiving friendly” their organizations are. Respondents cited increased productivity, decreased absenteeism, and reduced healthcare costs—in that order—as the primary factors that would drive them to invest in caregiving benefits, programs, and services.

“Caregiving as a benefits issue is on the radar of most employers, but there is wide variation in the support employers provide for employee-caregivers,” according to Laurel Pickering, President and CEO of NEBGH.

“Many of the 40 mostly large NEBGH-member employers headquartered in or near NYC that responded to our survey provide programs tailored to caregivers in addition to leave time that can be used for caregiving, but other employers may not,” Pickering said in a July 20 statement announcing the survey results. “Employers cite absence of employer benchmarks and best practices for caregiving, lack of financial resources and lack of data to identify caregivers, as the greatest barriers to becoming more caregiving friendly,” she added.

Most of the employers surveyed allowed employees to use sick, vacation, or personal days for caregiving, but fewer than half had programs designed specifically for caregivers such as support groups, counseling services, or subsidized in-home backup care. Fewer than half of the employers offered workplace access to free or low-cost caregiver support resources. Even at employers that did offer benefits, employee awareness of them was low—and a vast majority of respondents said their employees were only “somewhat” or “not very” aware.

“Family caregiving is an issue that affects the vast majority of us. We are either caregivers now, have been in the past, will be in the future or will need care ourselves,” said Nancy LeaMond, chief advocacy and engagement officer for AARP, which funded the study. “Of today’s 40 million family caregivers, 24 million are juggling caregiving responsibilities and employment,” she continued. “By recognizing and supporting their needs, employers can improve productivity and foster a stable and healthy workforce. It is great to see so many leading employers open to understanding this issue better, and we are pleased to be working together to help America’s family caregivers.”

When asked what topped their caregiving wish list, employers cited expanded leave policies and coaching, and wellness or support services designed specifically for caregivers. More than three out of four employers expressed interest in providing digital tools to employees, yet few currently offer these tools.

“Our aging population means that more employees—and millennials specifically—will be providing some type of help to sick or immobile loved ones, from preparing meals and providing transportation to doctors’ appointments, to performing more onerous responsibilities,” said Dr. Jeremy Nobel, executive Director of NEBGH’s Solutions Center. “The implications of this trend are significant not only for workplace productivity but for employee population health and healthcare costs—caregivers tend to abandon their own physical and emotional needs and employers need to plan for how to respond.”

AEISWith five states having paid/earned sick leave laws the tide is shifting in favor of offering paid sick and family leave benefits to employees. Join Charles H. Kaplan of Sills Cummis & Gross P.C. and Bradley T. Cave of Holland & Hart, as they copresent the breakout session—“Paid Leave in 2017 and Beyond: Strategies for Managing Emerging Compliance Obligations”—at the 22nd annual Advanced Employment Issues Symposium (AEIS), being held at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, November 15-17. Click here to learn more, or to register today.
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