In 2021, my mother was diagnosed with advanced Alzheimer's after a fall and I found myself catching a plane to Los Angeles to make arrangements. While waiting for my flight, I passed the time reading Slack messages from my company's Pride ERG. I sat there wishing there was a support system for me with caregiving like there was within the Pride ERG. As I dug into the use case, I realized there were so many reasons to have a Caregiver ERG!
As ERGs (Employee Resource Groups) have evolved, they've become more than just a safe space to build community. ERGs provide critical social and professional support to specific populations. Check out these top reasons why your company needs a Caregiver ERG.
There are more caregivers than you might expect.
In fact, according to Caregiver.org, at least 1 in 6 working Americans are acting as a caregiver for an elderly or disabled family member, relative, or friend. Those who work at least 15 hours indicated that their caregiving significantly affected their work life. That means, in an organization with 1000 employees, over 160 of them would statistically be a caregiver. If you thought the population wasn't large enough to need its own community, time to re-think!
Caregivers don't usually share with their boss.
Loss of productivity due to informal caregiving costs U.S. businesses $17 to $33 billion annually. It's no wonder only 56% of caregivers report that their work supervisor is aware of their caregiving responsibilities. With so many businesses returning to pre-Covid work arrangements, this statistic is scarier than ever. Many who took advantage of working from home and flexible work schedules are now being forced to return to the office and/or to a regular work day.
Caregivers have specific retention needs.
69% of working caregivers report having to rearrange their work schedule, decrease their hours, or take an unpaid leave in order to meet their caregiving responsibilities. That leaves this population of employees at a higher risk of turnover. According to The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), it costs a company 6 to 9 months of an employee's salary to replace them. With those kinds of numbers, employee retention is key.
Caregivers are people too.
Above all, caregivers are people too. They deserve to have their needs met at work. A Caregiving ERG can shed light on the concerns outlined above and help promote policies and benefits that support caregiver needs. It can also provide employees with peer-to-peer support from other folks in similar situations. If you are ready to take the leap or want to learn more, check out this Employer Caregiving Toolkit and these fabulous AARP resources. These materials can help drive the creation of a Caregiver ERG, make the business case for it, and so much more.
Does your company have a Caregiver ERG? Share your thoughts and stories in the comments below! If you are interested in reading about the statistics referenced in this article, check out Caregiver Statistics: Work and Caregiving from the Family Caregiver Alliance.