- Starbucks announced a new low-cost caregiver benefit for its employees called Care@Work. The coffee retail giant teamed up with Care.com to offer workers 10 subsidized backup care days a year for children, adults and senior family members when normal care isn't available or an emergency comes up. Care.com helps people find special needs caregivers, babysitters, housekeepers, nannies, pet sitters, personal assistants and other services.
- Care@Work includes: in-home backup childcare, at a cost of $1.00 an hour for in-home services and $2.00 an hour after the fourth child; in-center backup childcare, at a cost of $5.00 a day per child; and in-home backup adult care, at a cost of $1.00 an hour for each adult.
- Another Care@Work benefit is unlimited senior care planning, which allows employees to connect with a senior care advisor for professional help and to access a customized senior care plan. The program also gives participants free premier Care.com membership, valued at $147.
Caregivers make up a significant portion of the workforce, but they've become more visible as a distinct category of workers who need special help handling family demands. Employers are reportedly more focused on caregivers now because of generational shifts between millennials and Gen Xers, but caregivers have been part of every generation, as working parents with childcare responsibilities, adult children with senior parents to care for, and "sandwich" generations caring for both children and seniors. What's different are the types and number of services now available to caregivers.
Starbucks said it's among the first employers to extend benefits to employees who work 20 hours or more a week. Other retailers are offering hourly workers benefits, such as paid family leave and paid parental leave. Workers highly value family-supportive benefits, including caregiver offerings, and retailers have responded, with the understanding that in-demand benefits aid in the competition for applicants and the retention and engagement of employees in a tight labor market with record-low employment.
According to a Merrill Lynch report, caregivers spend $1 billion a year on healthcare and services for their loved ones. These expenses can be a tremendous drain on workers' finances, their health from the stress of caregiving and their time on the job. In fact, an AARP study showed that employers lose $25 billion a year in productivity from caregiver absenteeism. But employers can show support in a number of ways, including offering flexible work schedules; adopting more generous leave policies; partnering with service providers, as Starbucks has done; and tapping into expert caregiver resources, such as the AARP, which can help curb caregivers' costs.