High levels of work-life conflict result in a reduction of job engagement and productivity, and stressed out workers are more prone to accidents and illness. A Canadian study found that one in seven sandwiched workers had to reduce their hours and one in five had to shift them. That all has a bottom-line impact on your business.Research by MetLife suggests caregiver absenteeism costs employers almost $2,500 a year per employee because management has to replace employees who are absent, handle workday interruptions they cause, and otherwise deal with lost productivity. The total estimated cost to U.S. employers for all full-time, employed caregivers is an astounding $33.6 billion.
For employees, the responsibility of caring for kids and parents can mean poor health, missed promotion opportunities and lost income. The Canadian study found, for example, that the sandwich generation had 10 percent lower income, on average.
The statistics on this trend are sobering:
- The number of employees who care for both kids and parents has tripled over the past 15 years
- One in eight Americans are now part of the Sandwich Generation
- Almost half (47 percent) of employees provide either childcare or eldercare
- Our population is aging
- Life expectancy is increasing
- Family formation is being delayed
- Eldercare is cost prohibitive for most
Given all the costs associated with the problem, finding ways to help your employees cope is in your own best interest.Arm employees with information about the problems they’re likely to face. Put together a collection of resources and assemble a list of quality caregivers. Offer planning and counseling resources. Let them know you want to help and that they don’t have to make a choice between their job and their family.
Flextime. This is the most direct way you can help caregivers. Over 75 percent of people who call in sick aren’t because rigid schedules force unscheduled absenteeism. In fact, job satisfaction jumps when people are offered flex options even if they don’t use them. And job satisfaction means less turnover, more engagement and higher productivity.
Job sharing, sabbaticals and part-time options. These perks can go a long way toward reducing caregiver’s stress, too. Some 25 percent of workers say work/life fit is more important than wages or job security. What’s more, two heads are better than one, and that leads to productivity increases, continuous job coverage, and can help you keep people who might otherwise quit.
Resources for Employers and Employees
If you and your employees are part of this growing trend, here are five resources worth checking out:
- When Employees Become Caregivers: A Manager’s Workbook (PDF)
- Supporting Employees with Child and Elder Care Needs (PDF)
- National Caregivers Library
- National Alliance for Caregiving