It is an undeniable truth that we all get a little bit older each and every day.
As we move along the aging path, so do our parents, at what seems to be an increasingly rapid rate. One day your parent is the way you have always perceived them to be – healthy, active, and independent. In the blink of an eye, that parent is suddenly not healthy, inactive and increasing dependent on others to get through the day. That other is usually a family member (you) who has to take on the role of caregiver to look after the physical and mental health of their aging parent.
While this is not a new trend for the Canadian workforce, the number of adult children who have taken on eldercare responsibilities continues to increase. According to a recent article published in The Globe & Mail, approximately thirty-five percent of Canada’s workforce have primary care responsibilities for one or both parents. There is no doubt that this percentage has a direct impact on organizational and employee productivity for those who have to take time off from work to care for their parents.
While there are organizations that can offer a flexible work schedule or the ability for employees to work from home, many companies do not have a benefits strategy dedicated to workers with eldercare responsibilities. As noted in the article, eligible employees may be able access compassionate care benefits through federal employment insurance plans. The eligibility requirements, however may not be applicable in all cases. Most employees with eldercare responsibilities have to take time off from work without pay to attend medical appointments, emergency calls as well as attending to the day-to-day needs of their aging parent. From a compensation perspective, organizations should be looking at lost productivity costs balanced against the provision of both monetary and non-monetary eldercare benefits in order to reduce those losses.
This is a real compensation challenge for Canadian workplaces. With every challenge comes an opportunity to improve the situation. Hopefully effective compensation planning can provide increasing support to employees who have to care for parents who have spent their lives caring for them.
- What would you include in an eldercare plan as part of a compensation strategy?
- If you had to take time away from work right now to care for an aging parent, what would you have to do? How would your pay and benefits be impacted?
- The article states that thirty-five percent of Canada’s workforce has eldercare responsibilities. How is this number reflected in your current (or most recent) work environment? What percentage of your current workforce has eldercare responsibilities?