closeup of elderly hand on cane and younger hand on top More than half of survey respondents say their supervisors were not as supportive as they needed them to be about their outside-of-work caregiving responsibilities. (Photo: iStock)

An aging population and a trend toward remote work may increase demand for eldercare as a voluntary benefit.

Two-thirds of respondents in the Homethrive 2021 Employee Caregiving Survey said expanding access to home-based care for the elderly is important. This expansion is more popular than free pre-kindergarten and childcare assistance to middle-class families.

Related: Elder care benefits: A growing need for the U.S. workforce

Moreover, this concern may affect job performance:

  • 43% of respondents said they are distracted, worried or focused on caregiving five or more hours per week.
  • One in five are distracted at work more than nine hours per week.
  • Nearly 40% said their supervisor either is not aware of their caregiving responsibilities outside of work or aren’t sure if their supervisor is aware.
  • More than half indicated their supervisors were not as supportive as they needed them to be about their outside-of-work caregiving responsibilities.
  • One-third of respondents said their supervisor had noticed a change because it was affecting their performance or because they were noticeably under stress because of their caregiving responsibilities.

“Our survey results confirm that managing life and career is a delicate balancing act with many challenges,” said Bonni Kaplan DeWoskin, head of marketing at Homethrive. “Providing support or care for aging loved ones is stressful and distracting, yet employers are not widely aware of, nor focused on, how that outside responsibility impacts their workforce and workforce performance.”

Without adequate caregiving support for employees, companies incur millions of dollars of hidden costs through employee mental health issues, turnover and substantial productivity costs such as increased absenteeism and presenteeism, according to a recent survey by the Harvard Business School.

Despite the growing need for employee benefits that support caregivers, 79 percent of employers are not yet offering them or are not communicating about such benefits. However, that may be about to change. In a survey of employers earlier this year, more than three-quarters said caregiving will be an increasingly important issue for their employees over the next five years.

“The unfortunate truth is that many American employers are missing the boat, because employees are distracted from their jobs because of caregiving responsibilities,” DeWoskin said. “And as our survey confirmed, the majority would welcome an employee benefit that can help them as they help their aging loved ones.”

Read more: