Baby boomers create two crises – the aging family’s care at home and the employment crisis. The employed struggle to manage conflicts of work and family care.
OLDFIELD, NJ, USA, November 4, 2023 /EINPresswire.com/ — Tom was having a good time at his colleague’s backyard gathering when he mentioned that he would need to leave soon to take over for his sister as she was caring for their aging mother. The conversation that followed was not what he expected.
Nancy, a longtime friend and CEO at a manufacturing company nearby, expressed her sympathy that Tom’s mother was ill. But that wasn’t the unexpected part. She said,
“I’ve been spending a couple of hours almost every day doing something for my parents, and it’s getting to be more all the time. Of course, I can step out of the office in the middle of the day, but it is definitely affecting my work, what with the time away and the distractions. What I’ve been thinking about is, what about the rest of my employees? They have less flexibility in their days and fewer resources. How do they manage? And how many of them are dealing with this?”
As Nancy talked to Tom, a group formed around them, each adding more to the story.
“I used to pop in to see my parents and visit. We had a great relationship. Now it feels like I’m the parent, and we don’t genuinely visit or have a caring relationship anymore. It’s all about medical appointments and the logistics of getting them what they need,” explained Sandy.
“I know what you mean,” added Mike. “I’m afraid we’ll end up putting my dad in a home prematurely just because my brothers and I can’t keep up with his needs and OUR other obligations. And it is causing problems between my brothers, too.”
The Pressures of Work and Caregiving are Universal
This type of conversation happens daily, at every pay grade, in every organization, of every size, and in every zip code. This group of executives may have it better than most. Business leaders may have more job flexibility, financial resources, and choices.
But the issues are similar. Employed individuals struggle to manage the conflicts of work and family care at all levels. Many wonder if it is acceptable to tell their co-workers that this is a significant emotional drain on them and their family. They worry about this responsibility interfering with job performance. Yes, the pressures of work and caregiving are universal.
There are two crises – the aging family’s care at home and the employment crisis.
Executives face the crisis on all levels – for themselves as employees, their families, and their workforces. For most, it is uncharted territory.
This is a working generation. Families simply do not have someone at home available to care for an aging loved one. Even if they can afford a professional caregiver, it seems like there are no employees to hire. Demographics show that baby boomers did not have enough children to meet the needs of caring for them over the long term either. [https://populationeducation.org/resource/historic-average-number-of-children-per-u-s-family-infographic/]
Nancy went on to explain. “I recently implemented some programs to help people become better caregivers, but my job as CEO is really to keep employees on the job and working. My HR Department tells me that leaves and flex time are typical benefits. Yet, up to 8% of employees who take a leave of absence as a caregiver never return. Then, as caregiving needs progress over time, so does the likelihood that employees will lose their ability to work and do caregiving. It’s like having two full-time jobs. Care-related stress has to be everywhere! How can I maintain a workforce when most of my team seems to be caregivers? How do other business leaders deal with this workforce instability?”
Mike talked more about the issues with his dad and brothers and his struggles as an executive. “I think there is a bigger problem here. Everyone says that the aging caregiving system is broken. If it doesn’t exist, how can it be “broken?”
Families and Organizations Don’t Want to Stay in Crisis Mode
It was time for Tom to leave to take over from his sister.
“I never thought of the caregiving crisis that way. Maybe we have to discuss building something that supports our personal and institutional needs. Let’s have another discussion about what is the way that we want to work, live and care? Clearly, we don’t want to stay in crisis mode. Let’s treat this like a business issue and begin by defining it!”
The backyard crowd agrees to have another discussion on Tuesday over lunch.
These two crises cannot be resolved in one discussion, but organizations cannot wait for policy changes. Many organizations already see their workforce is unstable. They may underestimate the impact of the caregiving crisis created by aging baby boomers.
The Employee Caregiver Crisis in America