Even prior to the coronavirus pandemic, employee demand for caregiving benefits was on the rise. A growing retirement-age population coupled with more households featuring two working spouses highlighted this growing need for caregiver-employee support in Wellable’s 2020 Employee Wellness Industry Trends Report. Now, many of the pandemic’s impacts—such as closed schools and childcare centers, as well as heightened concerns over the health of the elderly—have increased the burdens of caregiving endured by workers.

Statistics from the Family Caregiver Alliance show that one in six working adults provides care for an ill or elderly family member, and, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than six out of ten married-couple families have both adults employed. As many employees switched to working remotely from home, these workers only added more caregiving responsibilities on top of their daily routine. Similar to other recent changes in how people work, COVID-19 has accelerated the demand for and importance of caregiving benefits.

According to a survey by the Northeast Business Group on Health (NEBGH), caregiving benefits were already on the rise. Of large companies surveyed, 35% offer caregiving benefits and 28% are considering adding them in the upcoming year. The vast majority of respondents (79%) believed that these benefits will become an increasingly important issue in the next five years, and most (61%) consider offering these benefits a top priority. Only 22% see themselves as below average when it comes to what they currently offer.

Businesses are also becoming more aware that caregiving can affect a worker’s productivity and performance due to the strain and stress it may cause on an individual’s financial, physical, mental, and emotional wellness. Since 2017, 12% more of respondents to NEBGH’s survey have added paid leave for caregiving, and 9% more (up to 84% total) believe a caregiving-friendly workplace will attract and retain more talent. Benefits managers also expressed interest in increasing access to flexible work arrangements.

At the start of the pandemic, many companies stepped up to help their workers meet increased caregiving demands with more flexible hours, backup care, and access to expert resources. Microsoft provided parents with 12 weeks of paid time off to deal with school closures, while insurance provider TIAA increased contributions to their backup care benefit from $65 per day to $100. However, increased support may be needed even after the present crisis.

 

Continuing Support After The Pandemic

About 20% of daycares are not expected to open up after the COVID-19 pandemic according to data collected by Kinside, a childcare benefit provider. If this is the case, businesses should prepare for their working parents’ increased caregiving responsibilities to continue. Without childcare, many will be making difficult decisions about quitting jobs or reducing work hours. Even for those that choose to stay at work, it may be that their spouse had to quit a job or alter their schedule in order to take care of the kids, resulting in new financial strains and added stress.

For employees that frequently visit or care for elderly or ill family members, it may be difficult for them to choose to come back into work. These workers will likely want to continue to reduce their chances for exposure, in fear that they could pass something onto the individual in their care. Especially for employees that were able to successfully transition to working remotely, it would be appropriate to continue those flexible work arrangements so they may minimize in-person interactions.

Without the right support, workers may struggle with continued financial strain, anxiety, stress, loneliness, and even physical health problems—leading to poor focus, reduced engagement, and more sick days and time off. However, employers that are able to meet the needs of caregiver-employees will likely suffer less losses in productivity and performance.

 

Popular Caregiving Benefits

According to the 2020 Employee Wellness Industry Trends Report, the most popular caregiving benefits are flexible work schedules (84%), remote work (67%), and paid time off (53%). COVID-19 has forced many employers to offer all three of these benefits, at least in the short-term. Once the limitations of social distancing are lifted and employees are able to go back to work, employers will be asked to extend these benefits. The ones that choose to do so will become more competitive in recruiting and retaining talent. For companies that already relied on these benefits to attract talent, they will need to expand benefits in other areas to further differentiate themselves.

Get our stories delivered From us to your inbox weekly.

Study: Caregiving Crisis Impacting Employee Productivity

Two researchers from Harvard Business School released a study that suggests employers are largely...

Caregiving Support Retains Top Talent

Employee benefits that support their caregiving efforts are rapidly growing in importance. Workers...

Are Caregiving Benefits Doing Enough For Employees? COVID-19 Edition

Caregiving benefits are an important part of any wellness program, particularly with today’s...

The Case For Wellness Benefits During An Economic Crisis

As of March 2020, the UN’s trade and development agency is estimating that the global economic...

COVID-19 Impacts College Graduates’ Career Plans

It’s a difficult time for soon-to-be college graduates entering the workforce. Not only have many...

Working From Home, Employees Lament Absence Of On-site Perks

While working remotely can be extremely attractive to employees, there are still several companies...

In The Wake Of A Global Pandemic, Paid Leave Needs Reimagining

It’s true that employers have been rethinking leave policies for quite some time now. Paid parental...

Shortcomings Of COVID-19 Screenings Create Challenges For Opening Offices

Since the COVID-19 pandemic took off, companies have been frantically adjusting work operations to...

The Future Of Remote Work (September 2020 Edition)

“September 2020 Edition” is the operative phrase in the title of this post. A discussion on the...

Microsoft Teams Launches “Virtual Commute”

Commuting has changed. Rather than hopping into a car or taking public transportation to head into...

Social Distancing Measures Fuel Employee Loneliness

Over the last several years, research on loneliness has revealed its impact stretches beyond just...

How To Combat Employee Isolation

As the year draws to a close, social distancing-related fatigue is wearing down even the most...

Burnout Risk On The Rise As Employers Pivot To Remote Work

Remote work has been growing in popularity for years, but the trend is now becoming common practice...

Survey: Women More Likely Than Men To Follow COVID-19 Precautions

A recent survey conducted by VoxEU.org reveals a significant difference between the way men and...

In Pandemic’s Shadow, A Substance Abuse Crisis Grows

Over the past year, employee wellness needs have largely revolved around specific COVID-19 health...

Pulse Check: Caregiving Benefits After COVID-19

Every month, Wellable asks a single question to the large, growing, and dedicated community of...

CEO Survey: Return To “Normal” In 2022

Over the past 30 or so years, with the advent of the internet along with various technologies that...

On-Site Health Fairs Go Virtual

One effective way to improve the well-being of one’s workforce is to provide them with an...

The Pandemic’s Regressive Effect On Gender Equality In The Workplace

Prior to the pandemic, gender equality in the workplace was improving, at least in certain...

Seven Things Employers Can Do To Address The Pandemic’s Impact On Workplace Gender Equality

As was noted in Wellable’s previous post on the pandemic’s regressive impact on gender equality in...