Could eldercare be the next employee benefit?

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As more and more employers offer attractive perks for employees with kids, one HRD says there’s still a way to set yourself above the rest – offer eldercare support says Andrew Smith.

“Going to work knowing you’ll be leaving your mum or dad to fend for themselves is a stressful process,” says Smith – and an increasing number of Canadians are doing it.

In 2011, an estimated five million Canadians were 65 years of age or older and over the next 25 years that number is expected to double to 10.4 million. As a result, more and more workers will become responsible – at least partially – for their elderly relatives.

“Many of us have elderly relatives who demand more of our time than they did 10 or 20 years ago,” said Smith and employers could benefit from providing a little support to their staff members.

A study by the National Alliance for Caregiving and Centre for Productive Aging found that eldercare issues have a serious impact on employee productivity and offering eldercare support is an ideal way to alleviate this.

The study found that:
  • 81 per cent of caregivers routinely take time during the workday to make arrangements for care or check on their loved one.
  • 70 per cent requested days off to attend to their caregiving duties.
  • 64 per cent arrived late or left early.
  • 41 per cent took time at work to discuss caregiver issues with co-workers.
Eldercare is an issue that’s affecting more and more employees and while support might sound novel now, that was once the case for childcare too, says Smith. “Just 20 years ago, the idea of childcare was an ideal, but certainly not commonplace. Now it is high on the list in any human resources policy.”

Financial advisor Nancy Anderson says her employer went out of the way to accommodate her needs when her mother was dying and in turn they have her loyalty.

“My employer not only allowed me to work a flexible time schedule so I could take her to her doctor’s appointments, but I could also telecommute from their home.  I moved into the upstairs bedroom and used my laptop, cell phone, and their wireless internet to work from there,” she said.

“When I needed time my employer provided flex-time and ultimately a short leave of absence. In turn I remained productive on the job, which of course is what the employer wanted, but what they also got from me was loyalty.”

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