NEW YORK, April 16, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Amid an ever-increasing rise in the number of employees shouldering caregiving responsibilities, U.S. employers were already making caregiving benefits one of their top priorities even before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a survey by Northeast Business Group on Health (NEBGH). The survey of 117 mostly large, U.S. employers found more than three quarter of respondents (79%) said caregiving will be an increasingly important issue over the next five years.  The survey was conducted in late 2019 and early 2020.

Roughly one in six U.S. employees provides care for an ill or elderly family member. And more than a quarter of these employee-caregivers are millennials, many of whom may also have childcare responsibilities. These caregiving employees face many challenges including stress and anxiety, loneliness, higher incidences of certain medical conditions, and financial woes. The presence of caregivers in the workforce – whether working from home or in the office - also poses challenges for employers including absenteeism and presenteeism, reduced employee engagement and productivity, and higher health care costs.

“The challenges for employee-caregivers have increased exponentially as a result of the risk for COVID-19 among older and vulnerable people, social distancing requirements, and 24/7 childcare responsibilities,” said Candice Sherman, CEO of NEBGH. “Employers are trying to increase support for caregiving employees by providing more back-up help, flexible working hours and access to expert resources, and some are providing relief funds to help with expenses.”

According to the survey, 61% of respondents said caregiving is a top priority for them.  And while nearly half (45%) believe they are on par with similar organizations in developing caregiving-friendly benefits, almost a quarter (22%) see themselves as below or well below average, a clear sign there is much room for improvement. 

The 2019/2020 Employer Benchmarking Survey is a follow-up survey to one NEBGH conducted in 2017. Key findings from the new survey include:

  • The vast majority of employers (91%) recognize that caregivers may abandon self-care, a 17% increase from 2017.
  • Employers know that employees may not be comfortable identifying their caregiving status to managers – less than 50% thought they would be. 
  • 84% of employers believe that having a caregiving-friendly workplace is important for retaining and attracting talent - a 9% increase from 2017.
  • Over half of respondents (58%) think their C-suite is supportive of caregiving policies – a 14% increase from 2017.  Interestingly, 38% were not sure how supportive the C-suite would be and that therefore building a business case for caregiving benefits would be necessary. 
  • Nearly three quarters of respondents (71%) provide flexible work options.  
  • An increasing number of employers are providing paid leave specifically for caregiving – the percentage of those not doing so fell from 89% to 77%.
  • Increasing leave for caregiving and implementing flexible work arrangements were at the top of benefit managers’ caregiving wish lists.

Financial support for the survey was provided by AARP. The survey report is available to employers and the public, and can be accessed here.

About Northeast Business Group on Health

NEBGH is an employer-led coalition of healthcare leaders and other stakeholders with the mission of empowering members to drive excellence in health and achieve the highest value in healthcare delivery and the consumer experience. 

Media Contacts:
Candice Sherman
NEBGH
212.252.7440 ext. 234
csherman@nebgh.org