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The financial impact of caregiving is hurting employee well-being

Published by: LifeWorks,

Doctor’s visits. Prescription refills. Physical therapy. Laundry. Housing.

Employees who are also caregivers have a lot on their plate. Time flies as they try to manage their career, raise their children, and also take care of their elderly loved ones.

Time isn’t the only thing they’re low on. Caregiving requires a major financial commitment, which can send employees into debt and spike their stress levels.

Research from a 2016 report from AARP found that 40 million unpaid family caregivers spend a lot of their own money on care costs. In fact, they spend an average of $6,954 a year — nearly 20 percent of their income — on out-of-pocket (OOP) costs related to caregiving.

Here’s a look at the financial burden your employees may be experiencing and how to help them:

The cost of caregiving

The National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP created a survey in 2015 to explore what caregivers were experiencing. And the burden is staggering.

On average, they spend 24.4 hours per week providing care. Most of their time is spent assisting with activities of daily living (ADLs). These ADLs involve moving in and out of beds and chairs and personal care activities, like showering assistance and helping them to the toilet.

This time and energy commitment can drastically impact employee well-being. When you account for the financial strain, it can be even worse.

The survey also found that nearly one in five caregivers experience financial strain. Those who live more than an hour away from their care recipient report higher levels of financial strain (21 percent), perhaps due to the fact that 41 percent of long-distance caregivers report the use of paid help.

With emotional and financial strains, employee well-being suffers greatly for caregivers.

The Effect on the Workplace

Not surprisingly, the emotional and financial stressors from caregiving invade the workplace. A 2017 study from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) found that 53 percent of all employees are stressed about their finances. And nearly one-third are distracted by personal financial issues while at work.

What’s more, almost half of them admit to spending three or more hours each week handling their finances on the job.

When employee well-being is high, so is productivity. However, if your staff’s financial wellness is deteriorating, they’re not going to perform at their best.

Caregivers might spend some of their workday paying late medical bills or price comparing for home health and transportation services for their loved ones. This not only eats away at their productivity, but also leads to potential health issues.

How you can help

A total well-being strategy focuses on all aspects of employee well-being. Your caregivers are especially burdened with the emotional rollercoaster of witnessing a loved one struggle with a disability or an illness. Some of their family members they care for might even be nearing end-of-life care.

As part of your total well-being strategy, create a caregiver support program. This program can include educational workshops, PTO benefits, emergency backup care options, flexible work arrangements, or financial wellness initiatives.

Highlight the advantages of your program, and focus your promotional efforts on the financial wellness aspects. These initiatives are meant to improve financial literacy as well as teach employees the ins and outs of financial and legal paperwork associated with caregiving.

For example, host financial planning workshops and team employees up with financial and legal consultants.

In the end, your caregiver support program isn’t effective if nobody uses it. So, generate excitement about it.

Our latest survey found that 64 percent of employees say their employer is ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ at getting employees excited about participating in a wellness program. Of those who said this, a whopping 87 percent currently participate.

Create more excitement by starting support groups for caretakers and targeting your wellness communications to fit their specific needs.

When you understand the impact caregiving has on employee well-being and financial strain, you can better help. Managing financial stressors will give caregivers the security they need to stay focused, both at home and in the office.

Make your employees feel loved