Employee caregivers are struggling. Employers are stepping up.
It’s no secret that employee caregivers face significant challenges that can lead to struggles with their mental, physical, or financial health. The tremendous demands they face may even result in missed career opportunities.
Thankfully, employers around the world are noticing—and taking action.
Why are caregivers struggling?
The US is home to over 53 million adult caregivers, and most of them are employed. In addition to the time and energy they dedicate to their work, caregivers spend significant time on caregiving—dedicating an average of 23.7 hours per week providing unpaid care for loved ones who live out of the house and 37.4 hours per week for loved ones who live with them.
That leaves little time for self-care, social connection, and other personal or family obligations. And the financial costs are massive.
According to the AARP, family caregivers spend about a quarter of their income on caregiving activities each year. Those with elderly dependents in need of extra care pay the most. The median yearly cost of care in 2021 was over $61,000 for a home health aid and over $108,000 for a private room in a nursing home. Data shows the cost of care has increased since 2004 and will likely continue to rise. That financial burden often leads to mental and physical distress.
What mental health challenges do caregivers face?
In a survey by the American Psychological Association, over 66% of caregivers reported at least one adverse mental health symptom in the 30 days before the survey.
Over the same time span, almost 33% reported anxiety, depression, or substance use. Challenges like depression can lead to a wide range of physical ailments like joint pain, limb pain, back pain, gastrointestinal problems, fatigue, psychomotor activity changes, and appetite changes.
As the Psychiatric Times notes, “Caregiving requires a high degree of personal sacrifice, and it can be physically exhausting and mentally taxing.” Data shows that caregivers have a higher risk of stress, burnout, and poor mental and physical health than non-caregivers. This compromises their ability to care for themselves and others. It also hampers work performance.
How is work performance affected—and what are employers doing to help?
Employees facing mental health challenges are more likely candidates for presenteeism and absenteeism. They are also more likely to report negative work experiences. As a study by McKinsey reveals, employees with one or more mental health challenge are:
- 4x more likely to say they intend to leave
- 3x more likely to report low job satisfaction
- 3x more likely to experience toxic workplace behavior
- 2x more likely to report low engagement at work
The good news is that organizations are starting to take action to support employee caregivers. For example, insurance provider Cigna recently doubled its paid caregiver leave to eight weeks.
“We believe you should be able to maintain your job—and your pay—while taking care of a loved one,” said Jill Vaslow, Cigna vice president, talent strategy and employee wellbeing, in a blog post announcing the change. “And we know that employees who took Caregiver Leave in 2020 or 2021 to care for a family member reported much lower stress levels when returning to work after their leave.”
This is just one example of initiatives companies around the world are implementing to recognize and support their employee caregivers. And it’s important that employers continue to step up. By prioritizing wellbeing, caregivers can bring their best selves to every personal and professional commitment, which is good for employees and employers alike.
How can Torchlight help you support your caregivers?
“I view caregiving as helping your loved ones,” Torchlight CEO/Founder and LifeSpeak Chief Strategy Officer Adam Goldberg says. “And you yourself are at the nucleus of that. If you aren’t well, it’s really hard for you to take care of the ones you love. It’s the ‘put the oxygen mask on yourself first to make sure you’re capable of taking care of others’ metaphor.”
Torchlight is a comprehensive caregiver support solution that educates and empowers employees to resolve modern family caregiving challenges. It provides direct access to top specialists and cost-effective, scalable expertise—available 24/7—to reduce burnout, turnover, and absenteeism. It features decision support tools, a caregiving knowledge base, one-on-one advising, and concierge services designed to help caregivers navigate content.
Caregiving is a long and complex journey. Employees need the right tools to look after themselves so they can be their best at home and at work.
Want to learn more about Torchlight?
The digital solution makes it easy to support employee caregivers, improve corporate culture, and boost productivity. Get in touch today to learn more or schedule a demo.
Looking for more wellbeing support?
Torchlight is a product of LifeSpeak Inc., which offers a wide range of employee wellbeing solutions for all of life’s challenges. From caregiving and substance use to mental health, physical wellness, and more, LifeSpeak Inc. provides the support your people need to thrive.