New research from Harvard Business School reveals that three quarters of the American workforce have responsibilities as a caregiver. These responsibilities include caring for children, elderly family members, or disabled family members. When polled, workers indicated that their caregiving responsibilities have a negative effect on their level of productivity at work. Despite this claim by workers, the majority of employers remain unaware of the underlying costs that caregiving has on their firm. The costs come mostly in the form of absenteeism and high rates of employee turnover. Workers will typically leave positions that conflict too greatly with their caregiver responsibilities.

As the American population continues to live longer the likelihood that workers will also become caregivers for family members in need increases. Employers that neglect to address this conflict of interest between workers’ caregiving and professional responsibilities will have the most to lose. Employers that fail to adapt will suffer the high cost of employee churn and losses in productivity. However, firms can get ahead of the curve by investing in company culture and benefit programs that allow employees the flexibility to attend to those in their care and also fulfill their professional responsibilities.

The firms that address the crisis in caregiving and choose to develop an effective care strategy to support their employees will find themselves retaining top talent for longer periods of time. By doing so, these firms will also increase productivity, raise levels of employee performance, and improve their bottom line. Employers looking to develop their own care strategy can start by asking employees about their current caregiving responsibilities to start building positive solutions.

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