Survey finds employees increasingly expect caregiving support

But are companies stepping up? It’s not just working parents who need help.

Caregiver support study

The pandemic has been a nightmare for just about everyone, though family caregivers have been shouldering heightened burdens.

This new reality has dramatically altered many workers’ personal responsibilities, which has profoundly shifted workplace expectations and the relationship between workers and employers. Now, according to new data collected by Ipsos on behalf of Grayce, nearly all employees who have caregiving responsibilities expect tangible support from their employers. And it’s not just those who are caring for kids.

The survey of 1,000 Americans found 4 in 5 employees believe employers should support caregivers in some capacity. In fact, if employers offered more eldercare support, 74% say they would stay at the company longer—and 64% say they find the company more attractive to work for.

Childcare burdens and the plight of working parents has (understandably) received ample attention this past year. But The State of Caregiving 2021 – The Employee Experience Survey finds that the stress of caring for other loved ones and family members who are either aging, ill, disabled, or vulnerable is a major impediment to employee well-being, retention and productivity.

“Caregiving challenges affect a business more than most other areas where employers have invested,” says Julia Cohen Sebastien, CEO of Grayce. “It’s a massive impact on an employers’ bottom line. They directly affect recruitment, retention, engagement, loyalty, productivity, career development, absenteeism and presenteeism, DE&I, and even medical costs. The employees disproportionately affected by caring for aging, ill, and vulnerable loved ones happen to be millennials and executives, exactly the populations employers need to sustain.”

One major problem uncovered by the survey is that many employees don’t necessarily “feel” like caregivers, despite the added burdens they’re enduring. Others simply don’t trust their bosses enough to raise the issue at all.

The survey also found:

  • Nearly every member of the workforce today (more than 3 in 4) has caregiving responsibilities beyond childcare, far more than any data has shown—they just don’t identify with the label “caregiver.”
  • Fifty-five percent of full-time employees left their jobs, adjusted their work schedules, or said they wanted to quit because of balancing work and caregiving beyond childcare.
  • Millennials and Generation Z make up 71% of full-time working caregivers who left or are considering leaving their job.
  • Nearly half of workers aren’t talking about their experience caring for their loved ones with their employers (44%) – yet over a third want to (34%).
  • For caregivers who haven’t told their employers about their additional responsibilities and stress in caring for loved ones, 1 in 5 cite the reason they haven’t is they “don’t believe their employers care.”
  • Overwhelmingly, both caregiving and non-caregiving employees want employers to better support caregivers and are more engaged at work with employers that do. The vast majority (4 in 5) employees believe employers should support caregiving at work. In fact, 83% agreed or strongly agreed that if their employer offered more caregiving support, they would feel the company cares about their well-being.

Having more candid caregiving conversations

According to Sebastien, companies should take a more proactive role in uncovering what employees are enduring. She recommends:

“First, employers should recognize that family caregiving is extremely common.  The majority of employees are helping a loved one other than a healthy, young kid. Caregiving spans all generations of employees, from Gen Z through Boomers. These caregiving employees are significantly stressed, even when their loved ones are still independent.”

Initiating more honest dialogue is just a start. What can companies do to meaningfully support overstretched staffers? Sebastien says, “Caregiving employees need an inclusive culture, flexibility and supportive programs. This requires a culture that accepts that every single employee has a family and will have responsibilities to juggle work with home life.”

To create a culture that honors caregivers in substantive ways, it must start from the top. Leaders who model healthy behavior and normalize support of caregivers will start a chain reaction and signal that it’s OK to seek support.

“Leaders should proactively seek to create a culture of normalcy around family responsibilities, sharing their own personal stories, and creating safe spaces for employees to start organizational dialogue around their family care challenges and needs,” Sebastien says. “To demonstrate commitment to and evolution on supporting these needs, leaders should share stories publicly, recap organizational learnings, and make commitments to how support programs, policies, and initiatives will advance their caring culture.”

Read the rest of the The State of Caregiving 2021 – The Employee Experience Survey for more insights on this pressing issue that affects more of your colleagues than you probably realize.

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