Further our discussion yesterday about an AARP study which describes “family responsibilities discrimination,” we would like to point our readers to a study done by MetLife and a survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (“SHRM”).
The 2011 MetLife study confirmed the results of the AARP study that the number of adult children who care for parents has tripled over the past 15 years, and an earlier MetLife study found that such caregivers frequently suffer from depression, diabetes, heart problems and hypertension.
While the AARP study described the hallmarks of what they call “family responsibilities discrimination” as limited flexibility, denial of leave, or even termination, the 2011 SHRM survey reported that cost-conscious employers are, in fact, cutting eldercare benefits, which benefits have been shown to reduce absenteeism, increase employee loyalty, improve employee health, and reduce employee turnover.
Commentators have noted that such care givers are frequently the hardest working and most valuable employees, and have counseled employers not to lose these employees by being short-sighted. They have suggested that employers offer such things as flexibility in work time and time for personal calls or emails during business hours; support groups or referral to support groups; subsidies for eldercare home aids and consultations; wellness programs; and sensitivity training for managers. See 2012 report of the National Alliance for Caregiving.
With the graying of the population and the workforce, employers should not only be sensitive to issues of age discrimination, but should also try to retain employees who are pulled in many directions as caregivers to children and parents.