Council on Aging (COA) is a finalist for the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber’s Ignite Action awards in the category of Leading with a Bold Voice for Business. COA was recognized for an innovative partnership with area businesses to better understand the impact of elder caregiving on our region’s workforce.
A report last year in the Harvard Business Review touched off a series of national articles on the topic of working caregivers – particularly caregivers who are caring for an older adult. The report said, “Fully 68 percent of working family caregivers report making adjustments at work such as arriving late or leaving early, taking time off, changing jobs, turning down a promotion, or cutting back on hours.” It further explains that companies risk losing some of their most experienced and talented workers to other companies which are accommodating these new realities.
The dual responsibilities of working and caregiving comes at a great cost to employees and employers. It costs U.S. businesses $17.1 to $33 billion annually in lost productivity and over half of working caregivers leave their jobs because they lack the flexibility needed to manage both responsibilities.
Council on Aging wanted to better understand the impact of this issue locally in order to align programs and services to better meet the needs of working caregivers – and their employers. The Caring Employee Initiative is helping to achieve this goal.
“We wanted to make a transformational change in our community for seniors and their families. By engaging area employers in this research project, we are able to quantify the impact of caregiving for each company and the region as a whole,” said Suzanne Burke, CEO of COA. “With their data in hand, business leaders can begin a partnership with COA to help their companies develop the needed programs to assist their employees and families.”
The Caring Employee Initiative is based on a survey of the region’s employees to help COA and employers understand the commitments employees have as caregivers and the impact on their workday. The findings and current impact on Greater Cincinnati businesses is staggering.
- 49 percent of employees state they are providing care to an aging family member or friend, while maintaining regular employment
- 81 percent of employees, if not already providing care, believe they will have caregiving responsibilities in the near future
- 64 percent of employees have missed work to take care of their aging family member
- 44 percent are stressed about their caregiving situation, while at work
Cincinnati-based Messer Construction was the first company to participate in the survey. All data collected through the survey is anonymous but can be grouped by employer. After Messer’s survey window closed, COA provided a customized report detailing how elder caregiving is impacting Messer employees.
“I was amazed to learn how many of our employees are dealing with this,” said Tim Steigerwald, CEO of Messer Construction. “It turns out a third of our people are dealing with the issues of supporting an aging loved one.” Working in conjunction with COA, Messer provided training opportunities in addition to its already-existing flexible work schedule for caregiving employees.
To date, nearly 1,000 area employees have participated in the survey through their employers and COA hopes to grow this number through partnerships with additional employers who are concerned or want to learn more about this issue.
Employees at Cincinnati-based Horan also participated in the survey. “This is a great report and the results are eye opening,” said Mike Lakin, Horan, Vice President, New Business Development. “I shared it with our leadership team, so we can consider how to best partner with COA to support our employees.”
“We are thrilled with the collaborations,” said Burke. “This is just the beginning of the innovative programs we can help area businesses employ to meet the needs of their workforce while reducing absenteeism, increasing productivity and enhancing employee loyalty to Cincinnati-based businesses.”
The Chamber’s Ignite Action awards celebrate companies and organizations that play a role in making Cincinnati a stronger region. The awards honor outstanding businesses, from start-ups to seasoned veterans and highlight their accomplishments in the categories of Leading with a Bold Voice for Business; Expanding the Talent Base; and Harnessing the Power of the Region’s Unique Offerings.
The awards will be presented Tuesday, November 12, 5-7pm at Memorial Hall in Over-the-Rhine.
To participate in COA’s Caring Employee Initiative, click here.