Supporting caregivers in the workplace
Sandie became the legal guardian of her younger brother, James, who has Down syndrome, in 2003. Moving him across the country to Connecticut to be close to her, she had a moment of panic, asking herself, “Now what?” She never imagined that the answer to her question would be a far-reaching series of steps and complexities that quickly became her life, when building a support network for James. While Sandie was always an advocate for James, when she took guardianship and became his primary caregiver, she wanted to be sure she could navigate the present and plan for his future successfully, while juggling a career, marriage, home and a family of four.
In the United States, there are nearly 62 million people who have reported special needs or disabilities1 and another 66 million who are caregivers2 - just like Sandie. Caregivers represent an integral part of the special needs community and offer a range of support including emotional, financial, social, physical and medical. While caregivers are fully dedicated to their roles, spending an average of 24 hours a week providing care3, many provide this care while maintaining part- or full-time jobs and managing other responsibilities.
Today, only 56 percent of caregivers report that their work supervisor is aware of their caregiving responsibilities4. And while employers are often unaware of the impact caregiving has on both employees and the workplace, caregiver absenteeism actually costs companies $38 billion per year due to absenteeism, lost productivity, increased healthcare costs, and recruiting and training new staff.5
Employers can help fill this gap and meet the needs of their caregiving employees by encouraging open, honest communication in the workplace and by providing resources to benefit all employees, including caregivers. Resources like Wellthy, a platform that links families with virtual care coordinators who serve as experts, advocates, and organizers, and take over many caregivers’ tasks, can be very helpful for caregiving employees. “Employers are invested in their employees’ overall wellbeing, and they are looking for solutions that give them more time, peace of mind, and less stress,” said Lindsay Jurist-Rosner, founder of Wellthy. Solutions like this one give employers an opportunity to meet the specific needs of their caregiving employees, while helping all of their employees find a better work-life balance. Through our Voya Cares program, Voya can help employers and employee caregivers learn more about and connect to these resources to help caregivers better plan for the future.
Today, James is thriving under Sandie’s care. And Sandie has found the support she needs in the workplace to juggle her work and caretaking responsibilities. Our Voya Cares program has helped Sandie feel like she’s ahead of the curve, with resources and access to highly trained professionals. Learn more about Sandie’s story.
1Prevalence of Disabilities and Health Care Access by Disability Status and Type among Adults, United States, 2016
2U.S. Census Bureau data and respondents’ self-identification, 2016
3National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP: Caregiving in the U.S., 2015
4U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Caregiver Resources & Long-Term Care, 2017
5NEBGH and AARP Report, The Caregiving Landscape: Challenges and Opportunities for Employers, 2017