Recently, the Melville-based Cona Elder Law, an elder law firm that offers an Elder Care Employee Benefit program, conducted an elder care workplace survey to determine the impact of elder-caregiving on the Long Island work force. With assistance from the Society for Human Resource Management – Long Island Chapter (SHRM-LI; www.shrm.org), the firm surveyed SHRM-LI’s membership consisting of human resources professionals and benefit managers of Long Island private organizations, publicly-held companies and non-profits ranging from 25 to over 2,000 employees. The results shed light on the elder care issues faced by the Long Island workforce and its impact on local businesses.
Over 65 million Americans provide care for an adult family member. Employers pay $33.6 billion annually in lost productivity and absenteeism costs the US economy an estimated $25 billion.
According to Amy Hosking, HR Director at Hello Vanguard, a NYC-based marketing company, "There have always been child care programs at companies, but elder care has taken a back seat. As parents age and become frail, the adult child has to step in and provide care. It's time the corporate sector provided services to help the many employees who have taken on this role."
In addition to seeing an up-tick in employees facing elder care issues, many HR professionals surveyed indicated that they are personally dealing with their own elder-caregiving issues. "My attention on the job was divided when I had to find a new home so my mother could move in with me,” says Amy. “To add to the stress, I also had to arrange for home care through Medicaid, which took considerable time and effort."
The survey respondents reported that the most common elder care issue involved a loved one’s hospitalization, followed closely by an aging loved one in need of home health care services. Approximately 50% of HR professionals reported that employees had emergency caregiving responsibilities, such as urgent doctor visits with their loved one or dealing with a home health aide who did not show up. Over 40% reported that their workforce dealt with coordination of elder care services, such as hiring home health aides or choosing a rehab or nursing facility for their loved one.
Absenteeism was the most widely reported negative impact of elder-caregiving on the workforce followed by “presenteeism”, meaning an employee is physically present at work but their mind is on other things. HR professionals also reported lateness, extensive personal telephone calls, switching shifts and schedule/work hour adjustments as the next most common by-product of elder-caregiving on their workforce. Over 71% of HR professionals reported that employees worked reduced hours due to elder-caregiving responsibilities and a significant number of employees quit their job or chose a position with more flexibility.
On the positive side, HR professionals reported that 35% of their employees are more secure and comfortable discussing elder care issues with their HR departments than they were a year ago. This makes it easier to identify the problem and develop appropriate solutions.
What can companies do to assist employees with elder-caregiving?
"Employees need practical advice when dealing with elder-caregiving issues and employers need to know how to recognize the issue as well as how to support the employee," says Ms. Cona. And with workers 55 and older making up 25% of the workforce by 2020, boomers also need to address their needs into their golden years.
Cona Elder Law offers a free Elder Care Employee Benefit program designed to give working elder-caregivers the tools they need to navigate the elder care landscape while remaining present and productive at work. The program helps employers by reducing absenteeism, downtime and turnover and promotes job security for employees.
Cona Elder Law also offers The Susan C. Snowe Caregiver Resource Center at their offices where family members and seniors can get information on all types of eldercare services and products. There is also an attorney available once a week to speak with visitors.
For tips on Helping an Employee Through an Elder Care Crisis or Signs an Employee May Have An Elder Care Issue, email email@example.com or call 631-390-5000.
Cona Elder Law is recognized as a leading elder law and estate planning firm on Long Island. The firm was ranked the #1 Elder Law firm by Long Island Business News for 4 consecutive years (2012 – 2015) and was a finalist in the 2015 HIA Business Achievement Awards. The firm provides creative advocacy and cutting edge planning strategies and has been featured in many publications including: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Newsday, L.I. Business News, Investor’s News Daily, USA Today, The Daily News, The New York Post, Kiplinger’s, Reader's Digest and many others. Cona Elder Law attorneys have appeared as guests on WNBC-TV, WABC-TV, CNN-fn, News 12, WLNY News 55 and many radio stations including WOR, WCBS AM, WBAB and WFAN.
Visit Cona Elder Law’s website at www.conaelderlaw.com for more information and programs on elder law and estate planning.