Time & Attendance
By Rebecca Throop
Dec. 27, 2017
Several months ago, my world was rocked with the news that a small cyst on my husband Michael’s neck was the first sign of throat cancer. It grew overnight and was the first external signal from his body that something was significantly wrong.
What ensued was a frightening time of trying to figure out the best course of action for his treatment, how to get him to his treatments, how to help with his care, what his health insurance covered, what disability coverage did he have, could our finances handle the cost of his care, all while continuing to take care of my two teenage sons and hold down my new full-time job as a marketing executive. Some 160 days later, my husband has completed his grueling chemotherapy and radiation regimen, and we can thankfully now exhale and look to the future.
I am not alone. I am the one out of every six employees in the U.S. who is also a caregiver to a family member or loved one. I have had to go in late, leave early, and take time off during the day to deal with caregiving issues just like the other 22 million employed Americans tending to their child with special needs, a spouse, or aging parent.
In fact, after logging a full day of work for our employers, informal employee caregivers like myself are then providing an additional 29 hours a week of caregiving. Fifty percent of working women aged 45 to 60 who are also caregivers feel they have to choose between being a good daughter or a good employee, according to a recent Daughters in the Workplace survey.
While caregiving takes a financial, emotional and physical toll on employees, Ceridian found American employers are losing $38.2 billion in productivity annually. Lost productivity isn’t the only factor hurting companies’ bottom lines. Employers pay an additional $13.4 billion per year in health-care costs for their employees with caregiving responsibilities.
But I am also one of the lucky ones. Just 12 percent of employers offer tools or resources to support caregivers, and my employer is one of them.
Fortunately, many companies are now re-examining the work-life balance of their employees and what they can do to create the best environment for their employees. Here are some of the approaches that companies can deploy.
At some point in our lives, we are likely going to be called to be caregivers. It just makes good business sense that the companies we work for, who truly desire to embrace the work-life balance, provide their employees with the detailed information and tools they need to help ease their caregiving responsibilities.
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