Flexible schedules are top priority for employees with caregiving responsibilities
- Employees with caregiving responsibilities most desire flexible schedules, according to recent survey results from Unum. Employer-paid leave and the ability to work from home followed.
- Most say they're caring for a parent or in-law, with spouse and adult child accounting for other top responses, Unum noted in its report, Adult Caregiving: Generational considerations for America’s workforce. But across generations, employees with caregiving responsibilities report that they're feeling stress, anxiety and depression and that their caregiving duties squash their productivity and cause tardiness or absences.
- According to the findings, nearly 90% of survey respondents said an employer's leave policies are key factors in deciding whether to leave or stay on a job. “Employers are being challenged to meet these caregivers’ needs if they’re to attract and retain a quality workforce,” said Michelle Jackson, AVP regional market development at Unum, in a statement.
With more generations in the workforce, employers are seeing an uptick in employee caregiving responsibilities, and that shift is only expected to grow as the population ages. A Northeast Business Group on Health and AARP study study shows that 30% of Americans care for a family member and devote 20 hours a week to caregiving.
And caregiving is not only emotionally costly, as Unum found; it can have a significant impact on caregiver's finances as well. Caregivers spend $190 billion a year on caring for loved ones, a 2017 Merrill Lynch study revealed, making it all the more stressful when employees have to miss work.
Employers, however, are responding with some of the benefits named in the Unum survey. Many say that paid time off remains too costly, but have instead provided some flexibility around work times and location. Employers also may want to ensure that workers know that if they choose to exercise unpaid leave rights, they won't face discrimination or retaliation for doing so.