Employees and elder care.
An AARP/National Alliance for Caregiving study from as early as 1997 estimated that one in four American households struggled to provide care for elderly people. Another study, from Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., predicted that losses in productivity due to elder care issues range from $11 billion to $29 billion a year. Even so, only 25% of organizations offer elder care benefits, reported the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) [www.shrm.org].
According to SHRM, human resources professionals estimate that nearly 15% of employees in their organizations deal with elder care issues, and convey the following experiences:
* employees who missed a full day from work: 59%
* employees who encountered workday interruptions: 44%
* employees who experienced stress-related health problems: 29%
* companies experiencing turnover or attrition due to elder care issues: 16%
The impact elder care has on employees is even more profound depending on the size of the company:
* Large organizations (500 + employees) are much more likely to report workday interruptions, strained employee/manager relationships, and missed appointments and meetings than medium-sized (100-499 employees) and small companies (1-99 employees).
* 23% of respondents from large organizations and 21% from medium-sized organizations reported turnover due to employees dealing with elder care issues. Only 4% of small organizations reported the same.
* While SHRM research found that a quarter of organizations offer some kind of elder care benefits, and nearly one-third agreed that employers have an obligation to provide assistance for employees challenged by elder care issues, nearly 40% said elder care benefits are too costly for their organization, and one-third said there would not be enough employees using the benefit to justify changing their current benefits package.
More than half of HR professionals agreed that:
* It is necessary to increase the contribution amount permitted under dependent care flexible spending accounts to help employees financially deal with elder care issues.
* Individual tax incentives for the purchase of long-term care insurance covering elderly relatives would help defray the costs of employer-provided long-term care assistance.
Compiled by Shary Denes, NTCA editorial manager
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|Title Annotation:||ShortTakes; health care costs|
|Date:||May 1, 2004|
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