Nearly 70% of Caregivers Report Struggling to Balance Work and Caregiving

By Alana Smart / June 18, 2024 / Blog ,

Nearly 70% of Caregivers Report Struggling to Balance Work and Caregiving

As our population ages, more employees are balancing more than just their professional responsibilities. Tens of millions of Americans are shouldering the dual roles of working and caring for older family members. A recent study by AARP and S&P Global highlights the significant impact of caregiving on employees. According to the survey, 67% of family caregivers report struggling to balance work and caregiving duties.

Family caregivers, who provide unpaid care to adults with chronic or disabling conditions, face a unique set of challenges. According to the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP’s 2020 study, nearly 48 million Americans are family caregivers, with 61% also holding jobs. With the US population aged 65 and older projected to surpass the number of children by 2030, the pressures on family caregivers are set to increase significantly, necessitating more robust workplace support systems.

The report surveyed 1,200 self-identified caregivers and revealed the significant strain that balancing work and caregiving responsibilities places on individuals.

The Hidden Workforce of Caregivers

Family caregivers, often unnoticed in the workplace, are dedicated employees who also assist their loved ones with daily living activities, medical tasks, and more. The unpredictability of caregiving is a major stressor, with 34% of caregivers citing it as the biggest driver of their stress. This double shift can be incredibly emotionally and physically taxing, leading to significant personal and professional sacrifices.

  • Reduced Work Hours: 27% of caregivers have shifted from full-time to part-time or reduced their hours.
  • Missed Opportunities: 16% have turned down promotions to manage their caregiving responsibilities.
  • Temporary Workforce Exits: Another 16% have stopped working entirely for a period, while 13% have changed employers.

Disparities in Support

Despite advances in workplace policies, disparities remain. The earlier ‘Something’s Gotta Give’ report by S&P Global and AARP during the COVID-19 pandemic found that companies were more adept at supporting employees with childcare responsibilities than those caring for adults. This gap persists, with adult caregivers often feeling less supported compared to their counterparts caring for children. This disparity in support clearly indicates the need for equal treatment of all caregivers in the workplace.

The report also highlights demographic differences in caregiver satisfaction. Women, lower-income households, and employees without children under 18 report feeling less supported. Women are more likely to feel caregiving duties negatively impact their careers. Lower-income caregivers, often in entry-level or shift work positions, may find employer supports less accessible or financially viable. These disparities suggest a need for targeted employer strategies to ensure equitable support across all caregiver demographics.

The Importance of Employer Support

Employers play a critical role in supporting family caregivers. By implementing caregiver-friendly policies, companies can help reduce stress and improve job satisfaction for these employees. Moreover, supportive policies can increase productivity, lower turnover rates, and encourage a more engaged workforce. Here are some strategies employers can adopt:

  • Flexible Work Options: Offer flexible schedules and remote work opportunities to help caregivers manage their responsibilities more effectively.
  • Comprehensive Leave Policies: Provide paid leave specifically for caregiving duties and ensure flexible leave options are available.
  • Support Resources: Give caregivers access to support groups, career coaching, and financial advising resources to help them manage their dual roles.
  • Educational Initiatives: Host informative sessions for employees to learn about maximizing the use of company benefits and policies related to caregiving.
  • Leadership Engagement: Encourage senior leaders to share their personal experiences with caregiver-supportive benefits to signal to all employees that it’s safe and encourage them to utilize these resources.
  • Training for Managers: Train managers on inclusive practices for caregivers and ensure they communicate supportively with their teams.
  • Employee Resource Groups: Establish or support Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) for caregivers and parents to create a sense of community and shared resources.

The Benefits of Supportive Policies

Implementing these strategies helps caregivers and benefits the organization as a whole. According to the study, caregivers’ access to flexible work schedules increased from 32% in 2020 to 45% in 2023. Additionally, the availability of caregiving policies and benefits has improved in almost every category except unpaid leave. This progress demonstrates that supportive policies can make a significant difference.

Addressing the needs of family caregivers can help employers create a more inclusive and supportive work environment. This not only helps retain valuable employees but also enhances overall workplace morale and productivity.



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