If statistics from a recent Pew Research Center study are any indication, employees in the so-called "Sandwich Generation" increasingly will be looking for benefits to help them better manage the demands of caring for parents and children at the same time. According to the study, nearly half of adults in their 40s and 50s have a living parent and are either raising a young child or financially supporting a grown one.
"That's certainly something we've seen as a trend with employers," says Chris Duchesne, vice president, Workplace Solutions, with Care.com. "This past year, 45% of our clients who launched the [Care.com] service with employees included our senior care planning service. That was a three-fold increase over what we saw the year prior."
Among employees with adult/elder care responsibilities who've used Bright Horizons' back-up care service within the last six months, nearly 70% said the benefit has allowed them to work on a day they would have otherwise missed. On average, having access to adult back-up care has allowed employees to work six days in the past six months that they otherwise would have missed.
"There's an emerging recognition of the impact of caregiver stress on working parents' ability to be productive at home and at work," says David Lissy, CEO of Bright Horizons. "Particularly as families wait longer to have children, there's more at stake in their careers, and they're pulled in many different directions as they also are dealing with the realities of their aging parents."
Bright Horizons had about 800,000 uses of its dependent back-up care last year. Of those, roughly 100,000 were specifically for elder care. "Child care issues are still very large, but I think elder care will be a bigger and bigger piece of the pie in the coming years," says Lissy.
'We value our employees'
iRobot, makers of home cleaning, defense and security robots, launched Care.com as an employee benefit in 2011, in part because "we value our employees and want to support them in managing the demands on their personal lives," says Cathy Blanchard, benefits analyst.
She recalls how one of her employees accessed the service "to find senior care to support her mother-in-law who was almost 90 years old, living in a nursing facility on the opposite coast away from family. She found several elder care providers and hired them to visit her mother-in-law weekly, and this provides peace of mind because now the family has a contact to notify them what the mother-in-law's needs are."
Since the benefit was launched for iRobot's roughly 550 U.S. employees, "we've seen a 15% month-over-month increase in the utilization," says Blanchard. "We thought that was pretty significant. It helps iRobot reduce costs resulting from care-related absences and distractions, so that helps improve productivity."
In February, the company launched Care.com for its employees in the U.K., Germany and France.
"From an employer perspective, it's just another resource to assist [employees] to reduce stress," says Blanchard.
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