How Being a Caregiver Can Impact Workplace Performance

Statistics indicate that nearly two-thirds of Americans over the age of 65 will need long-term care assistance in some form, whether at home, in an assisted living facility or in a nursing home. This need will take a huge toll on finances -- of the individual needing care and of the family -- as well as on caregivers’ career and personal relationships.

Survey data indicates just how stressful long-term caregiving can be, and also shows how being prepared for long-term care needs by having a Long-Term Care insurance plan can help with the financial burden, and alleviate some of the stress. This is significant for employers, who can add Long-Term Care insurance as a voluntary benefit offering, because employees who are less stressed by caregiving responsibilities are more likely to work up to their usual level, meaning less of a negative impact on workplace productivity.

Providing long-term care to a loved one is “expensive” on many levels, according to an annual survey from Genworth Financial, The True Impact of Long-Term Caregiving. Caregiving responsibilities shouldered by primary and, to a lesser degree, secondary caregivers affect finances and career and personal relationships. For example, according to the survey, among primary caregivers:
  • 83% contributed financially to the cost of their loved one’s care
  • 63% reported lost income, an average of 23% of household income
  • 61% cut back on their savings efforts, by an average of 63%
  • 57% dipped into their own retirement funds or savings
  • 45% cut back on their own family expenses
  • 40% cut back on family vacations
  • 29% borrowed money, took out a reverse mortgage and/or sold their home
Among those reporting cutting back on savings, contributions to savings plans were reduced by 73% and to 401(k) plans by 65%. On the home front, primary caregivers can see their personal relationships suffer. Increased stress with a spouse was reported by 44%, with siblings by 27%, and with children by 23%. Career impact is just as significant. Among primary caregivers:
  • 48% lost a job, changed shifts or missed out on career opportunities
  • 44% worked fewer hours
  • 38% were repeatedly absent from work
  • 17% were repeatedly late for work
Statistics from MetLife document how employers also feel the impact of employees’ caregiving responsibilities, estimating that caregiving by employees costs U.S. employers between $17.1 billion and $33.6 billion in lost productivity annually, surfacing in many forms: Time away from work, tardiness, workday interruptions and reduced concentration. In bringing a Long-Term Care insurance offering into a voluntary benefits program, an employer can counter these negative effects proactively, as well as enhance employee recruitment and retention efforts.

The value Long-Term Care insurance can have for caregivers is seen in a study from Greenwald & Associates for New York Life. Baby Boomers -- the generation currently most engaged in caring for aging parents -- increasingly are seeing the value of Long-Term Care insurance, though few have acted on this realization and actually purchased a policy.

Of Baby Boomers whose parents had Long-Term Care insurance coverage in place and used it, 72% said it was a good value. When asked about the key benefits of the coverage, 84% said it lessened the family’s financial contribution to care, 77% said it lessened the time family members needed to commit to providing care, 76% said it increased the quality of life for all involved, and 70% said it preserved their parents’ nest egg.

Offering employees the chance to purchase Long-Term Care insurance through a voluntary workplace-based plan will save them money, due to group pricing. It also represents a tremendous convenience for employees. Many people do not understand the ins and outs Of Long-Term Care insurance, nor how it differs from their medical coverage. Present your company as an employer of choice, and add Long-Term Care insurance to your voluntary benefits offerings.
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