When #CaregivingHappens: 5 Essential Ways to Support Employees

Employees are often put in caregiving situations when they least expect it.

Caregiving is the second largest reason (after retirement) employees are leaving the workforce. The departure of caregivers from the workforce is one contributor to labor shortages in the U.S. Leading employers are getting in front of this often invisible burden that causes strain in managing work and life responsibilities and can negatively impact health and well-being. In honor of National Family Caregivers Month and leveraging the results of Business Group on Health’s 2022 Caregiving and Family Support Survey, (76 large employer respondents), we explore how employers can support employees when “caregiving happens”:

#1  Promote caregiver resources, even for those who don’t need them  yet

Circling back to this year’s theme of #CaregivingHappens, it’s critical to actively communicate with employees about caregiver supports and benefits. Employees are often thrown into caregiver roles in times of crisis, so make this information readily available and accessible by supervisors for referral purposes. Even better, help employees understand the importance of planning in advance for caregiving responsibilities that they are likely to take on in the future. Some employers are even going so far as to destigmatize negative connotations associated with caregiving by having senior leaders break the silence and share their caregiving experiences (including how they used company benefits) and training managers to recognize and affirm support for caregivers. This year, 37% of survey employers will implement a communication campaign, and another 39% are considering doing so.

#2 Provide time away through paid time off

Eighty percent of employers currently offer, or are considering offering, paid time off for caregiving as part of a paid leave category or through a paid caregiver or family leave. Most commonly, employers offer between 2 and 4 weeks per year for employees to use for caregiving, and it typically can be taken at different times instead of all at once. What’s more, surveyed employers often provide the same amount of paid time off to hourly employees as they do to those who are salaried.

#3 When possible, offer flexible work arrangements

Among surveyed employers, 85% of companies offer flexible work arrangements, and at least 63% allow for employees to work remotely either on a full-time and part-time basis. Many caregivers will not require a large amount of time away from work. Offering flexibility in when and where employees work is often the solution employees want and need to manage their work and life demands.

#4 Provide caregiver solutions and benefits

An area of employee benefits that’s been gaining ground is personalized caregiver solutions. By partnering with a third-party vendor, employees can receive support throughout their care journey from experts who can guide them through the complex web of factors that affect caregiving, from finances and legal planning to housing and medical care. Sixty-three percent of employers offer caregiver support/navigator tools. Other sources of support include digital resources/apps to help employees with elder/adult caregiving responsibilities (45%), caregiver employee resource groups (ERGs) (36%) and access to a dedicated care coordinator (27%).

#5 Facilitate and/or reimburse for child, adult and elder backup care

For caregiver relationships that demand constant oversight (like that of a young child or an elder needing support), having access to backup care is critical for employees who have competing demands. For childcare, 59% of employers offer backup care and 43% either subsidize or provide a discount for childcare. Similarly, 51% facilitate backup adult care, although subsidies are less common (only 5% will provide a subsidy for elder care).

To learn more about Business Group’s caregiver resources, click on the links below (for Business Group members only):