Shifting demographics and cultural changes are affecting the face of modern caregiving. As we explored in an earlier article, today’s caregiver doesn’t always meet the traditional image of the dutiful daughter with few outside responsibilities. In fact, data from the 2014 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index® revealed that 13.4 percent of modern caregivers are employed full-time—meaning caregivers are balancing work, self-care and their own personal lives with the often daunting responsibilities of caregiving.
These multiple priorities can mean that caregivers may not be focused on their own well-being. Well-Being Index data tells us that there is a link between caregiving and well-being—caregivers, regardless of age, have lower overall well-being than non-caregivers. They’re also behind non-caregivers when it comes to the individual elements of well-being. Across the board, caregivers have lower purpose, social, financial, community and physical well-being than non-caregivers (though older caregivers reach parity in social well-being).
The link between caregiving and well-being has important implications for employers. Well-Being Index data reveals that caregivers are more likely to have conditions that require expensive medical interventions, such as diabetes and asthma. They’re also more prone to lifestyle risks like obesity and smoking, which can also drive up healthcare costs.
The lower well-being of caregivers can have an impact on employers beyond healthcare costs. For example, employers may notice caregiving’s effects on presenteesim and performance. Given their competing priorities, caregivers may likely be distracted, worried and stressed while at work. In a Pfitzer-REAct/Gallup poll, 54 percent of caregivers reported that their role affects their work performance. Perhaps their caregiving role makes employees less likely to embrace opportunities that involve more responsibility, longer hours or travel, since they wouldn’t be able to provide care for their loved one as easily. In fact, results from the same poll show that nearly a quarter of caregivers say their role prohibits them from working more.
Caregiving also has an impact on absenteeism. Employees may miss work for a variety of reasons related to their caregiving role—maybe they’re taking their loved one to the doctor or providing more intensive care on a certain day. But they may also be absent from work due to their own negatively impacted health and well-being. Well-Being Index data shows us that caregivers who are working full-time miss 8.1 days of work a year—72 percent more than non-caregivers.
Recent analysis by Gallup revealed that this absenteeism due to caregiving is costing the U.S economy $27 billion a year in lost productivity. Given this astounding figure, as well as the other reasons we’ve discussed, employers should look for to support caregivers in their population—a topic we’ll address in an upcoming article. Until then, view a recording of our webinar, The Costs of Caring: The Impact of Caregiving on Your Population’s Well-Being.