America’s silent workforce speaks up
Most employers are surprised to learn approximately one out of six of American workers assist with caregiving responsibilities for a loved one with special needs or disabilities.1 These caregiving duties can include:
- Basic food preparation
- Holistic healthcare
- Assisting with personal care
- Transportation and mobility
- Emotional support
- Budgeting and bill paying
Due to the fear of stereotypes and social stigmas, many caregivers remain silent on the issues they face, with only 56% speaking to their supervisor about their responsibilities2 — making them America’s silent workforce.
Common caregiver concerns
On average, caregivers spend 24.4 hours each week on their caregiving duties; while 23% spend 41 hours or more.2 Because of their unwavering dedication to their loved ones, caregivers generally share three common concerns:
- Career progression – Frequently taking time off from work can impede steady career growth.
- Family matters – Ensuring everyone in the family receives a sufficient amount of attention can be difficult, especially when so many other competing priorities exist.
- Time for self – Attention devoted to caregiving, work and family leaves very little time for friends and leisure activities.
Resources that offer flexibility, local relevance and pertinent knowledge provide the best support for caregivers and people with special needs. However, finding these resources proves difficult for many, especially pertaining to government benefits and their strict qualification criteria.
Voya found that while there’s familiarity with current government assistance programs like Supplemental Security Income (SSI); more can be done to boost knowledge among caregivers and people with special needs, especially concerning Survivor Benefits, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Children’s Disability Benefits.
In addition, less than 60% of people with special needs and caregivers have completed the legal planning steps of establishing powers of attorney, wills and trusts. These legal instruments can be critical tools in protecting their loved one’s future, while avoiding unnecessary conflicts that may negatively impact their eligibility for government benefits.
How can employers help caregiver employees?
Providing support for your caregiver employees doesn’t just help them — it can bolster your culture of diversity & inclusion, increase retention, loyalty and productivity, as well as significantly impact your organization’s bottom line. As a matter of fact, 85% of CEOs whose organizations have a diversity and inclusiveness strategy say it has enhanced business performance. 4
Here are a few ways you can support your caregiver employees, while working toward a more inclusive workforce:
- Provide one-stop educational access to resources, support, and education networks for caregivers through the Voya Cares Resource Center.
- Explore flexible schedules and telecommuting capabilities to help your employees balance their career and caregiving responsibilities.
- Provide ongoing employee training and education through workshops, webinars and courses on diversity and inclusion of those with special needs.
- Provide options for special needs and caregivers in your company’s employee benefits program.
- Launch an employee resource group for caregivers to provide recommendations and advice regarding workplace support.
- Promote dialogue on the topic of caring for people with disabilities and foster an environment of encouragement, acceptance, and inclusion.
- Offer guidance to managers on how to talk to and engage their employees with caregiving duties.
Reach out to your Voya Representative to learn more about Voya Cares and how we can help you on the journey of creating a more supportive, inclusive and diverse environment.
1 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, 2011
2 National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP: Caregiving in the U.S., 2015
3 People with Special Needs and Caregiver Need Gaps, conducted with the Voya Online Consumer Research Community, January 10-24, 2018.
Research methodology: Voya leveraged its proprietary research platform, the Online Consumer Community, a private digital space where a targeted group of consumers have been recruited to participate in research-related activities over an extended period of time. Voya has 400 consumers in the Online Consumer Community, balanced by age, gender and U.S. Census region. Through this research platform, Voya executed an online survey with over 40 consumers who either identified as an individual with a special need or disability or a caregiver. Participants contributed their thoughts on the impact of a disability on day-to-day life, resources currently available, and wishes to help feel more supported by financial or retirement providers.
4 Pricewaterhouse Coopers, 18th Annual Global CEO Survey, 2015