As the need for family caregivers explodes, how can employers address a growing workplace crisis?
American businesses across virtually every sector and industry are facing a growing but silent crisis: an increasing number of employees are engaged in family caregiving. Recently we sat down with Voya’s President of Tax Exempt Markets and Executive Sponsor of the Voya Cares® program, Heather Lavallee, and CEO of Wellthy, Lindsay Jurist-Rosner, to discuss the caregiver crisis and how Voya is collaborating with Wellthy to help employers improve productivity and create a better work environment for employees.
Q: What is the caregiving crisis and how is it changing the employment landscape?
Heather: Whether it’s a parent caring for a child with a disability or special needs, a middle-aged executive caring for an aging parent, or a spouse caring for a sick partner, there are an estimated 66 million Americans who identify as caregivers.1 Caregivers are often expected to juggle the various needs of their loved one, manage a career and a family, all while maintaining life’s daily demands.
Managing these duties requires what feels like superhuman strength – and it takes a toll on caregivers. In fact, we know, based on a recent Voya study and whitepaper — For the Benefit of All — that four out of five caregivers report added stress/anxiety; and most have used sick time, personal leave, or vacation to provide care.2 On top of that, 77% of caregivers are concerned they will not be able to retire when they want.3
While employers often work diligently to address the needs of their workforce, unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of caregivers (90%) feel they lack support from their company in some area.2
Q: How does the caregiver crisis impact different industries?
Lindsay: When it comes to the caregiving crisis, no industry is spared or excluded. Employees across all industries — spanning from agriculture to information technologies and healthcare — are impacted by caregiving demands. As Heather mentioned, four out of five caregivers report added stress and anxiety, which contributes to reduced focus and more distractions at work.4
While the caregiving crisis impacts all kinds of industries, the effects can vary — depending on roles and responsibilities. For instance, the impact of caregiving on the healthcare industry may include lost productivity and increased malpractice rates, as it’s critical for these employees to stay alert, focused and emotionally present. The manufacturing industry, on the other hand, may experience problems associated with unplanned absenteeism because shift schedules can conflict with the sporadic demands of providing care.
The pharmaceutical industry — along with every other sector that requires a high level of institutional knowledge — suffers when caregivers are forced to leave the workforce because of their caregiving responsibilities.5 Whether it’s lost productivity, unplanned absenteeism, premature workforce departures or any other result of the caregiving crisis, the costs can quickly add up; and employers are footing a large share of the bill.
Q: How are employers impacted by the caregiving crisis?
Heather: It is estimated that 22% of American workers6 spend an average of 32 hours a week assisting with caregiving tasks.7 Caregivers have to find additional time when and where they can, which often means scheduling appointments during “downtime” at work, calling out because a home aide didn’t show up and squeezing time from the day to do what has to be done. These minutes, hours and days add up to more than $50 billion annually in lost revenue nationwide for American companies — or an estimated $3,200 per employee.8
Lindsay: And when the responsibilities of caregiving become too much, a substantial number of caregivers are forced to either cut back on their work hours (56%), leave their current role for a different, presumably more flexible, job (31%) or quit work entirely (22%).2 The costs of replacing these employees can be up to 150% of their annual salary.9 While replacing an employee’s salary comes at a cost, the loss of institutional knowledge when employees leave has an impact and a cost that is significant – but is harder to quantify.
Q: How is Voya helping caregivers through the crisis?
Heather: With a vision to be America’s Retirement Company®, our goal is to help all Americans — including caregivers and people with special needs or disabilities — achieve the financial future they envision.
Because this community is often overlooked and underserved, a few years ago, we started our Voya Cares program. This program, which is at the heart of our culture, offers information and resources that can help people with special needs, disabilities and their caregivers plan and prepare for a secure financial future.
Today, we realize that improving retirement outcomes — especially for this community — depends on a broader commitment to holistic financial wellness. Simply put, it’s a lot harder for caregivers to consider saving for tomorrow when the challenges of today can be so overwhelming. This is where Wellthy comes in.
Lindsay: Wellthy is an innovative, high-touch solution for helping families and caregivers. We match caregiving employees and families with their own private care coordinator who helps facilitate the variety of tasks that traditionally occur during normal business hours, all powered through technology.
Instead of having to schedule appointments, inquire about medical bills, find medical providers and perform a bevy of other tasks, Wellthy lessens the administrative and logistical burden off of caregivers, so they can remain more focused and engaged at work. Similar to enlisting the services of a financial planner to help with investments, Wellthy’s care coordinators are trained to help caregivers and families put a game plan together and navigate the (sometimes confusing) landscape of major care decisions.
Heather: Together, through our new collaboration, Wellthy and Voya Cares are evolving the way we take care of each other and the way Americans plan for the future. By collaborating with Wellthy, we’re able to help employers drive greater productivity and loyalty, and create more supportive work environments. Simultaneously, employees are able to find a healthier balance between living for today, meeting caregiving responsibilities and preparing for tomorrow.
Q: What’s preventing employers from offering more caregiver benefits?
Lindsay: 80% of employers recognize their company could be doing more to assist caregiving employers.2 The biggest barrier preventing companies from doing more is making a compelling business case for investing in caregiver benefits. However, Wellthy is helping employers overcome this hurdle. This innovative employer benefit solution helps reduce leave/absences, improves employee productivity and bolsters the company’s ability to retain top talent.
Most employers see an astonishing 2X ROI.10 More importantly, the impact of the intangible ROI — also known as VOI (value on investment) that includes feedback from employees and the loyalty and gratitude engendered through Wellthy’s support — is proving to make a long-term transformation in the culture of organizations. And when companies champion employment and inclusion of people with disabilities, these organizations can enjoy 28% higher revenues and 30% higher profit margins than their peers.11
Heather: Together, Wellthy and Voya Cares provide robust, practical caregiving and financial solutions to help caregivers find a healthier balance between living for today and preparing for tomorrow. Since offering Wellthy to our own employee base, we’ve learned firsthand how this innovative solution can relieve some of the day-to-day logistical and administrative caregiving tasks from families while helping employees stay focused, productive and at their best.
Connect with your Voya Relationship Manager to learn how Wellthy and Voya Cares can help your organization.
Looking to learn more about the caregiver crisis? Read For the Benefit of All: How Organizations Win When They Recognize and Support Caregivers and Employees with Disabilities or simply contact your Voya Representative for more information about how we can help.
All caregiver solutions are provided by Wellthy. Wellthy and Voya are not corporate affiliates.
1 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Caregiver Resources & Long-Term Care, 2017.
2 Voya Proprietary Research, For the Benefit of All, 2019.
3 The American College of Financial Services study, conducted by Greenwald & Associates March 30 and April 12, 2016).
4 Good Housekeeping Institute and Wellthy’s survey on the impact of caregiving on career, 2017.
6 Family Caregiver Alliance: Caregiver Statistics: Work and Caregiving, 2016.
7 Age Wave/Merrill Lynch. The Journey of Caregiving: Honor, Responsibility and Financial Complexity 2017.
8 Assisting Caregiving Employees (ACE) Program one-page overview, 2017.
9 Brandon Rigoni and Bailey Nelson, “Many Millennials Are Job-Hoppers – But Not All,” Gallup, 8/9/16.
10 Based on value of time saved, considering cost of Wellthy, Wellthy Database.
11 “Getting to Equal: The Disability Inclusion Advantage,” Accenture, P. 6-7., 2018.