HRE’s number of the day: Caregiving attention

79: Percentage of employers who say caregiving will be an increasingly important issue over the next five years

In a survey of 117 mostly large U.S. employers by the Northeast Business Group on Health, more than three quarters of respondents (79%) said caregiving will be an increasingly important issue over the next five years. The survey was conducted in late 2019 and early 2020. Meanwhile, while nearly half (45%) believe they are on par with similar organizations in developing caregiving-friendly benefits, almost a quarter (22%) see themselves as below or well below average, a sign there is much room for improvement.

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With a growing number of employees taking care of both their children and aging parents, employers are zeroing in on the issue and increasingly making caregiving benefits one of their top priorities. Experts say embracing programs and benefits such as paid caregiving leave can help make an impact for caregiving employees. Without support, those employees often experience absenteeism and presenteeism, reduced employee engagement and productivity and higher healthcare costs–all of which take a toll on employers.

As the coronavirus pandemic shines a light on caregiving responsibilities–as most schools across the country are closed–the number of employers who focus on support and add and improve such benefits may grow.

“The challenges for employee-caregivers have increased exponentially as a result of the risk for COVID-19 among older and vulnerable people, social distancing requirements and 24/7 childcare responsibilities,” says Candice Sherman, CEO of NEBGH. “Employers are trying to increase support for caregiving employees by providing more back-up help, flexible working hours and access to expert resources, and some are providing relief funds to help with expenses.”

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Kathryn Mayer
Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s former benefits editor and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. She has covered benefits for the better part of a decade, and her stories have won multiple awards, including a Jesse H. Neal Award and honors from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and the National Federation of Press Women. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Denver.