A new report by The Conference Board of Canada examines how providing eldercare affects both employees and employers and presents a range of accommodation solutions and best practices for implementing an eldercare strategy.
It is estimated that eldercare obligations cost Canadian organizations an estimated $1.28 billion per year in lost productivity. Despite these substantial costs and implications, formal eldercare programs are not common in Canadian organizations.
Highlights of the report include:
- Just over one-quarter of employed Canadians have eldercare obligations.
- Successfully implemented eldercare strategies can benefit employers through retention and reduced absenteeism.
- A minority of Canadian organizations have eldercare leave programs.
The report, The Juggling Act: Balancing Work and Eldercare in Canada recommends several broad guidelines for organizations looking to develop an eldercare strategy:
- Assess the extent to which eldercare obligations are already affecting employees. Creating space for discussion about eldercare can help employees feel more comfortable discussing their circumstances and needs.
- Consider measures that are already in place. Employee assistance programs offer helpful services to employees with caregiving obligations.
- Align strategies with needs. Increased workplace flexibility alone may not speak to the needs of employees most burdened by eldercare obligations. Days off, reduced work hours, or a short period of leave may be more beneficial.
- Be flexible in terms of response. Organizations should make reasonable efforts to find accommodation solutions that work for both parties.
- Prioritize managerial and organizational support. The supportiveness of an employee’s direct manager often determines the extent to which an employee will avail themselves of eldercare accommodations.
- Keep communication open and adjust accommodations as necessary. Accommodations may need to be modified as eldercare obligations can be unpredictable and change over time in the intensity of care required.