Why Middle Tennessee Employers Should Support Employee Caregivers

from Council on Aging of Middle Tennessee

Over the past 18 months, the Council on Aging (COA) of Middle Tennessee has embarked on a journey to understand the impact of eldercare on employers and the needs of working caregivers. The result is a findings-in-brief: The Case for Caregiving: Why Middle Tennessee Employers Should Support Employee Caregivers.

COA’s research began while completing the Center for Nonprofit Management’s Innovation Catalyst program. In partnership with Vanderbilt’s Center for Quality Aging via a Community Engaged Research grant, the organizations conducted focus groups with working caregivers to assess benefits of online support tools, namely COA’s online tools Roobrik: Is It Time To Get Help? and the Directory of Services to explore unmet needs in balancing work and caregiving.

Additional insight to assess awareness of eldercare, current support for working caregivers and opinions about which benefits and services would be most helpful was gained through surveying members of the Middle TN Society of Human Resource Management and Middle TN Employee Benefits Council.

“Tennessee ranks near the bottom of the list for supporting working caregivers,” said Grace Smith, COA’s executive director. “While we knew elder caregiving in the workplace was an issue, it wasn’t until we dug deeper that we understood the disconnect between the needs of working caregivers and benefits and support offered by employers.”

Tennessee ranks 49th for support of family caregivers and 32nd for support of working caregivers*. Although family caregivers provide more than one billion hours of care, they are frequently ill-prepared for their role. The 2014 Tennessee Governor’s Task Force on Aging emphasized the need to improve education and support for family caregivers.

eldercare costing employers graphic

The economic impact and loss of skilled talent is staggering:

  • $2,110 per working caregiver is lost in productivity each year*
  • Health care costs are 8% higher for caregiving employees*
  • Employers lose $6.3 billion each year due to workplace disruptions related to eldercare*
  • Employers spent an additional $6.6 billion each year to replace employees who left their agency due to eldercare responsibilities*
  • Employees in mid-to-high levels of the organization experience greater challenges related to caring for older adults and are more likely to leave their position, taking their skills, talents and institutional knowledge with them*
  • 32% of employees are departing the workplace to care for an older adult*
  • Fewer than 10% of employers offer eldercare benefits*Using the findings, COA has made it a priority to address this unmet need and partner with employers to assist working caregivers. An expert advisory board is guiding development of services. The initiative will be launched in fall 2019 and will include: assessment and best practice consultations for employers, phone consultations for caregivers, on-site Lunch & Learns, and an online portal with care navigation tools and links to resources. COA’s trusted resource guides, including the Directory of Services and Aging & Caring: A Guide for Families and Caregivers, will also be provided to participating employers and their employees.

“Research shows that employers can anticipate a $3 to $13 return for every dollar spent on eldercare benefits*, along with close to 6% reduction in turnover,” said Smith. “We look forward to launching our initiative in the fall and helping companies realize these savings while supporting employees in their efforts to remain productive at work while also caring for aging loved ones.”

For more information, please contact the Council on Aging at 615-353-4235 or email Kayse Martin at kmartin@coamidtn.org.

Sources: AARP, The Commonwealth Fund, and The SCAN Foundation,2017 Long Term Services and Support Scorecard, http://www.longtermscorecard.org; MetLife Mature Market Group, National Alliance for Caregiving, and the University of Pittsburgh Institute on Aging. (2010). The MetLife Study of Working Caregivers and Employer Health Costs: Double Jeopardy for Baby Boomers Caring for their Parents; Fuller, Joseph, & Raman, Manjari, The Caring Company, (Harvard Business School, 2019), p.10; Fuller, Joseph, & Raman, Manjari, The Caring Company, (Harvard Business School, 2019), p.17; Fuller, Joseph, & Raman, Manjari, The Caring Company, (Harvard Business School, 2019), p.20; The Caregiver Resource Center, Eldercare Solutions for Businesses and their Employees, (2018)