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Working While Caring – A New Employer Initiative to Recruit & Retain Talent

April 28, 2022

By Heather Nezich and Guest Author, Sara Gleicher, LMSW, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

Two years into the pandemic, businesses large and small continue to struggle to find employees and keep the ones they have. Now, many employers are seeking new ways to retain and attract talent by identifying what matters most to their employees.

Surprisingly, despite the unprecedented view of family life the pandemic exposed, some employers remain largely unaware of the prevalence of “employee caregivers”, those working full-time while caring for someone who is elderly, ill, and/or disabled. The latest Federal Reserve’s Monetary Policy report shows that four times as many people are out of work taking care of adult family members than those who stopped working to care for children during the pandemic.  The Washington Post recently wrote about this very topic.

In 2019 and 2021, The Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers (RCI) conducted two national surveys of registered voters and working caregivers aged 18 – 70. The results were eye opening. Key findings include nearly 20% of employee caregivers had to quit their job to care for their loved one. More than 40% of those working while caring said they had to go to part-time work or reduce their hours.

These family caregivers experience financial and emotional stress which can lead to reduced productivity while at work. Those who most frequently report being impacted by challenges of balancing work with caregiving are younger adults are people of color and paid hourly workers.

These issues will not go away anytime soon, as the number of employed caregivers is growing, in part due to increasing numbers of female workers, more older adults who prefer to live out their later years at home, and gaps in the availability of community-based care.

There are few empirically based benefit programs and policies available to help. 65% of employee caregivers report having access to less than half the benefits they would use if available, such as flexible scheduling, remote work, and specialized caregiver services.

Employers are paying the price of these workforce challenges, including reduced access to talent and productivity loss. One way to counteract these challenges and address diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) concerns is to better support employee caregivers in their dual roles. RCI wants to partner with employers to identify effective workplace solutions and improve employee and employer outcomes, in a new initiative launched in Southeast Michigan, “Working While Caring.”

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