- Even before the novel coronavirus pandemic, U.S. employers were increasingly prioritizing caregiving benefits, according to new research from Northeast Business Group on Health. A survey of 117 employers conducted in late 2019 and early 2020 found that more than three-quarters of respondents (78%) said caregiving would be an increasingly important issue over the next five years.
- Over half (60%) of respondents said caregiving was a top priority for them, but there was a lot of room for improvement: 45% said they were on par with similar organizations in developing caregiving-friendly benefits, while 23% said they were below or well below average.
- Eighty-four percent of respondents believed having a caregiving-friendly workplace is important for retaining and attracting talent. It may be up to employers to publicize these benefits, as less than half of respondents felt employees would be comfortable identifying their caregiving status to managers.
There is a disconnect between caregivers and their employers. In one recent study, nearly half (45%) of surveyed employees reported having some caregiver responsibilities — but 62% said their employer was unaware of those commitments. Additionally, while nearly all (88%) of the surveyed employers reported offering some form of caregiver benefit, 71% of workers did not know what was available.
Caregiving stresses seem to disproportionately affect women in the workplace. A WebMD Health Services survey found that working mothers with caregiving duties face isolation, loneliness and stress, and want assistance from their employers to help them better manage these issues.
Training for managers can help rectify the caregiving disconnect. While more than three-quarters of respondents in an Unum survey said they were confident their managers were adequately trained in how to spot signs of mental health disorders, just 16% of the HR professionals polled agreed, with 25% saying that managers were provided with that training.
Workplaces that place an emphasis on whole-employee well-being can foster an atmosphere of openness and trust about caregiving responsibilities and other issues. Workers who are not worried about being judged or penalized are more likely to be candid. Along similar lines, some experts advise that HR should shift away from a discipline-focused mindset to one that helps employees improve and thrive.