HR Can Help Reduce Caregiver Absenteeism, Presenteeism and Attrition

Who is a Caregiver?  Rosalynn Carter said it best “There are only four kind of people in this world.  Those who have been caregivers.  Those who are currently caregivers. Those who will be caregivers, and those that will need caregivers.”  

#Caregivers are today’s employees working in large corporations and small companies alike.  The ‘average’ caregiver is a 49 year old married female working outside the home at least twenty hours weekly while caring for a relative age fifty and beyond.  Typically they alter their work schedule to fit caregiving demands by going in early, staying late and working weekends to meet the work place demands.  Per the recent Caregiving in the US report, over the course of caregiving the total average loss wages and benefits for women are $324,044 and $283,716 for men.

Caregiver employees are juggling the demands equivalent of two full time jobs, both demanding in physical and mental fitness that is failing. How does caregiving affect the workforce?  

  • higher rates of depression 
  • higher rates of anxiety and frustration
  • caregiver burnout due to physical exhaustion 
  • higher rates of poor physical health

#AARP reports USA business losses at $33.6 Billion annually from 

  • workday distractions
  • absenteeism
  • reducing hours to part time status 
  • attrition
  • supervision time remediating the problem
  • FMLA leave of absence 

Presenteeism is also a concern - Family caregivers showing up for work may have “perfect attendance”, but may be dealing with their family caregiver/health issues on the employer’s time.  While absenteeism can show much of the direct costs of caregiving (sick time, time off, reduced work hours, early retirement), presenteeism shows the indirect costs and they are multiples of absenteeism costs.  FMLA eligibility, FMLA regulations, workers rights, and age discrimination in the workplace all add to the mix.

Employers today are caught between the proverbial rock and hard place knowing that healthy and happy home lives create the most stable and productive employees.  Workplace demands often conflict with the unpredictability of caregiving and caregiver burnout, especially dealing with dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.  

Employee Assistance Programs can bridge the demands of these pain points.  Employees need the tools and resources that enable them to remain connected to both worlds simultaneously giving them the peace of mind to be fully engaged in the work tasks at hand.  REUNIONCare connects your employee caregiver directly to the professionals and resources they need, giving them the right information at the right time to best manage those requiring care;  be it their parent, spouse, Wounded Warrior, or child with special needs.

Due to the enormous financial impact that caregiver absenteeism, presenteeism and attrition places on the bottom line, this is an issue that needs recognition at every level of corporate management. The corporate culture and existing eldercare programs must be reevaluated and replaced with a more caregiver-tolerant corporate mind set and supportive programs that are meaningful and effective.

We want to hear from you!  As an employee, does your workplace offer a caregiver benefit as part of their Employee Assistance Program (EAP)?  As an HR professional, are you looking for tools to reduce caregiver absenteeism & attrition.  Join the conversation, comment below and let’s try to move the needle on this challenging, sensitive topic.