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Caregivers in the workplace

Friday September 25, 2015 Written by  Retain Canada
With 2.9 million working Canadians serving as caregivers, caregiving responsibilities can have a significant impact on productivity and engagement.

The Double Duty: The Caregiving Crisis in the Workplace study from Ceridian investigated the role of working caregivers and the personal and professional implications of these responsibilities. Using insights from a survey of more than 1,600 full-time and part-time workers across North America, the survey examined the demands and effects of caregiving, as well as the pressing need for employers to recognize, support and better accommodate these individuals.

The survey found that nearly one in six working Canadians are caring for another individual. For these individuals, caregiving takes up a significant amount of time. Respondents report an average of 23.4 hours spent on caregiving activities in a typical week.

While the majority of people say caregiving is a rewarding part of their life, there is evidence that this responsibility is taking its toll. Respondents report that the most negative drawbacks of caregiving are the fatigue (69 per cent), stress (69 per cent) and sadness (59 per cent).

The hours that caregiving demands can also have a negative effect on life outside of caregiving. Respondents report that they have difficulty getting their work done on time (44 per cent), have had difficulty focusing at work (41 per cent) or have had to miss work entirely (35 per cent). Forty per cent have experienced financial hardship or loss of income and an alarming 21 per cent report increased use of alcohol or drugs as they struggle to meet caregiving demands.

Employers feeling the impact   

Many Canadian employers are feeling the impact of caregiving responsibilities. Respondents report that Canadian carers had to take, on average 10.4 days off over the last 12 months to manage their caregiving responsibilities. It’s estimated that caregiving costs the Canadian economy $5.5 billion in lost productivity.

In light of this, perhaps it’s no surprise that many feel Canadian employers could be doing more to support employees with caregiving responsibilities.

Forty-two per cent of respondents report that they have the support of their direct manager in their caregiving role. And only 18 per cent of respondents claim that their employer offers all four of the following support programs: paid time off, unpaid time off, the option to work from home and a flexible work schedule.

“Working caregivers represent a unique group of individuals with tremendous and often unpredictable pressures and stressors from a variety of sources,” said Estelle Morrison, vice-president of clinical and wellness services with Ceridian LifeWorks. “In fact, caregivers who work need to meet multiple and competing demands on their time, their attention and emotional reserves. They are often left with little time and energy for self-care and much needed restoration, which in turn can have a dramatic effect on work productivity and performance. As a result, supportive services such as employee assistance programs that provide counselling, wellness assessments and programs as well as information and resources become one of the critical supports designed to address their and their loved ones needs with ease.”

The 2015 Caregiver Research study was conducted by Harris/Decima’s online research solution in the spring of 2015.

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