Caregiving—including care of elderly persons who are frail and dependent—has always been a primary function of the family. Today this function has assumed new significance because more women have entered the workplace. Childcare and eldercare issues have become important workplace issues as employees strive to balance work and family caregiving responsibilities.
As portrayed in the "burning-the-candle-at-both-ends" image above, the process of balancing work and family can be stressful. As many as 10 percent to 31 percent of working caregivers leave their jobs as a result of caregiving responsibilities—some elect to retire early; others quit working altogether. Most working caregivers, however, make workplace accommodations and try their best to create a balance between work and caregiving responsibilities.
Nearly 75 percent of adults currently shouldering elder care responsibilities have been in the workforce (either on a part-time or a full-time basis) at some point in their caregiving experience. Of those currently employed, about 1 in 6 workers are providing care to one or more elderly or disabled adult family members, relatives or friends. Importantly, these caregivers do not abandon their caregiving responsibilities because of work. Instead, they cope as best they can to balance conflicting sets of responsibilities. This balance is difficult to maintain, and often impacts both caregiver and the employer. The magnitude of missed work from the employer’s standpoint translates into an estimated loss of 120 million workdays each year, and the equivalent of $25.2 billion in lost productivity.
You are encouraged to view videos created by University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension addressing “employed caregiving” which tackle issues related to care given to elderly family members by persons who are also employed. The primary objective of these videos is to help employers create work environments that are supportive of families and households simultaneously engaged in work and elder care. Specifically, the video Employees and Caregiving: An Overview (Length: 5:42) addresses family caregiving and its effect on American business and the importance of employers providing support to their employees with caregiver responsibility.
To address the growing needs of employees who are adult caregivers, six University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension family living educators and the program specialist in aging developed and piloted the “Employed Caregiver Survey.” This confidential, web-based survey process produces an executive summary and a longer report, both of which define the scope and needs of employed caregivers and make recommendations for assistance. Data gleaned from the The “Employed Caregiver Survey” will provide a solid foundation for the establishment of future caregiver educational programs and outreach.
This document has complete instructions on Implementing the Survey.
To access the survey, a person representing an employer (e.g., a person in a Human Resource Department or an Extension county educator) first completes and submits the registration form: Employed Family Caregiver Survey - Registration Form
Once the registration form is processed, a survey designed for that particular employer/workplace is made accessible online. When given the website address for the survey, employees anonymously complete the survey, which takes about 10 minutes. Information provided by the survey cannot be linked to any particular individual, and responses to items about gender, age, and race are optional.
Once employees have anonymously completed the survey, all of the information is collected and sent to the contact person for the employer. The report, which bears the name of the employer (agency or organization), can be shared with employees and used in discussions about how best to address the needs of employees who are caregivers. Employed Family Caregiver Survey - Report Tools page provides a sample survey.
National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) and AARP, Caregiving in the U.S. 2009 (Bethesda, MD: NAC, and Washington, DC: AARP, November 2009). Funded by the MetLife Foundation. Witters, D. (2011). Caregiving costs U.S. economy $25.2 billion in lost productivity. Retrieved from: http://www.gallup.com/poll/148670/caregiving-costs-economy-billion-lost-productivity.aspx
Neal, M., & Wagner, D. (2001). Working caregivers: Issues, challenges and opportunities for the aging network. (Issue Brief for National Family Caregiver Support Program). Washington, DC: Administration on Aging.