Impact of Aging on the Workplace
The composition of the workforce could change dramatically over the coming decades. Increasing longevity paired with a ballooning proportion of “old” to “young” in societies around the world could mean significant growth in workers aged 65 and older. Companies that typically hire workers in their 20s and 30s may need to learn how to recruit, retain and fully leverage older employees.
Caregivers in the Workplace
The workforce will also see a growing number of employees who are struggling to meet the demands of their job while shouldering the often time-consuming and unpredictable responsibilities of caring for an aging loved one. A majority of those affected are women. According to a 2017 survey by Home Instead, approximately one in 10 working daughters report that their jobs are at risk. In that same survey, 91 percent of female caregivers report having had to take action to accommodate being an employee and a caregiver. The most common actions include taking paid time off, switching from full time to part time, avoiding certain responsibilities and turning down promotions.
“Caregiving and working were hard emotionally, physically and mentally, and it took a toll,” said Shelly, a 51-year-old single mother who also cared for her father and mother before they died.” “There were a couple of incidents where my mom fell and I needed to meet the ambulance. My employer said, ‘You know, if you leave, you’re not going to get paid.’ Eventually I was laid off. They said I was good at my job, but I was too slow. I understood. My mind was in two different places.”
According to the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP Public Policy Institute’s Caregiving in the U.S. 2015 report, over 34 million Americans serve as unpaid family caregivers to an adult aged 50 or older, and 60 percent of them are also employed. The majority of working caregivers, regardless of gender, say that caregiving has had at least some impact on their performance at work. In fact, it’s estimated that caregiving costs U.S. businesses $34 billion in lost productivity per year.
But consider this: about 40 million family caregivers in the U.S. provided an estimated 37 billion hours of care to an adult with limitations in daily activities in 2013, according to an AARP report, Valuing the Invaluable The estimated economic value of their unpaid contributions? Approximately $470 billion.
Clearly these caregivers are a critical part of the care ecosystem, as well as a significant part of the workforce. So how can employers help empower these workers and increase their capacity to care?
Win-Win Solutions for Employers and Working Caregivers
The Global Coalition on Aging, together with the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Ageing, has published a set of Guiding Principles for Age-Friendly Businesses that identify seven key ways employers can prepare for and embrace the impact of aging on the workplace. View the Guiding Principles for Age-Friendly Businesses. Home Instead Senior Care, a member of both the Global Coalition on Aging and the World Economic Forum, played a leading role in the development of these principles.
Government also has a role to play in helping to ease the burden on working caregivers. Learn more about legislation impacting caregivers.
Home Instead Senior Care has developed a set of resources for both caregivers and employers as part of its Daughters in the WorkplaceSM public education program. The program brings attention to the special challenges faced by working family caregivers of older adults and provides free resources to those caregivers and their employers. Resources include information such as the types of benefits working caregivers want (and need) and the benefits of a flexible workplace. Visit www.daughtersintheworkplace.com to learn more.