Understanding the impact of caregiving on employees - and their employers

Nationally, the older adult population is growing while the workforce to care for them is shrinking. Family members are filling the gap and many of these family caregivers have careers and young families.

70% of employee-caregivers struggle at work. They take time off, forego promotions, cut back hours or quit. The financial impact is staggering: annually, employees lose up to $3 trillion in wages and benefits while employers lose $17-33 billion to absenteeism and turnover. 

In its groundbreaking 2018 report, The Caring Company, the Harvard Business School began a national conversation about the far-reaching impact of caregiving on the U.S. workforce. The report noted that “employers do not measure and thus do not realize the extent to which employees are burdened by care .” As a first step, the report urged businesses to conduct a “care census” to better understand the scope and impact of employees’ caregiving responsibilities.

Care Census

Council on Aging (COA) is bringing this important conversation to the local level by partnering with area employers to better understand how elder caregiving is impacting the regional workforce.

The information collected through COA's Care Census is valuable for many reasons:

  1. It gives employers an understanding of how prevalent elder caregiving is among their workforce - data collected to date tells us that nearly 50% of employees have some elder caregiving responsibilities
  2. It helps employers realize the cost of elder caregiving in terms of lost productivity, absenteeism (and presenteeism) and turnover - 64% of caregivers have missed work due to caregiving and 43% worry about their loved one while at work
  3. It creates partnerships between COA and area employers to educate employees and connect them to available community programs and supports that can help them balance their work and caregiving responsibilities: an overwhelming majority of census respondents would like their employer to partner with COA on caregiver education opportunties
  4. It helps COA, as the Area Agency on Aging for southwestern Ohio, develop programs and services to better meet the needs of our community

Through the Care Census, COA is developing partnerships that help employers foster a culture of care, enabling employees to connect to supportive local resources so they can better manage their dual responsibilities.

Click here for a fact sheet about COA's Care Census. 

To better understand how caregiving is impacting your workforce, participate in Council on Aging's Care Census. Contact Paula Smith at psmith@help4seniors.org or (513) 345-3315 for more information. 


Working Caregivers: In their own words

COA has been partnering with businesses in the Greater Cincinnati region to better understand how elder caregiving is impacting our local workforce. In addition to helping local employers take a "care census" within their organizations, we have also been collecting stories from working caregivers to better understand the impact caregiving has on their lives. These emotional stories call attention to the commitment and sacrifice of local caregivers. These are caregivers who are committed to carrying out their loved-one's wishes, even while juggling careers and child-rearing.

The stories also highlight the impact Council on Aging has on our community at large - not just seniors. Because of Council on Aging, these caregivers can go to work each day knowing their loved one is safe and cared for. The stress and worry that often goes along with caregiving may still be there, but the burden is lightened and they can focus on their careers, family responsibilities and other important parts of their lives. Many caregivers also report that having help from COA enables them to spend more quality time with their older loved one - not just time providing care. 



January 2020: Employers should take a "care census" in 2020

January 2020: COA receives Outstanding Project in Aging award

November 2019: Support for working caregivers is good for business

October 2019: Council on Aging a finalist for Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber's Ignite Action Awards

October 2019: Employers lack understanding of employee responsibilities

September 2019: A crisis of caregiving: we are not prepared

August 2019: The gender bias of caregiving economics

July 2019: For working caregivers, summer doesn't mean fun in the sun

May 2019: AARP study shows depth of family caregiver challenge

April 2019: Messer Construction pilots initiative focused on employees who care for loved ones (Cincinnati Business Courier)

April 2019: Caregiving impacts local employees and the businesses they work for

February 2019: Working caregivers - and their employers - feel the pinch