An ageing population could have a profound impact on employers, with one in six of their staff balancing work with caring responsibilities by 2040, according to new research by Aon.
The consultants have published a new guide giving advise to employers on managing this challenge. It points out that almost half of workers with caring responsibilities today describe their situation as stressful, with 20 per cent falling ill themselves.
It is currently estimated that unpaid carers provide approximately £132 billion worth of care each year, a 12 per cent increase from 2013.
One in seven employees — 4.87m people — are currently balancing their jobs with caring responsibilities, with a around 2m of these employees reducing working hours, and a further 2.6m people giving up work altogether,
In its guide, ‘The Ageing Population: Why it’s time to take notice’, Aon says these pressures is affecting increasing numbers of individuals which will in turn pressure employers by impacting absence, productivity, employee health, diversity and inclusion and retirement.
Mark Witte, principal, Health Solutions UK at Aon, says: “This issue is about eldercare in its broadest sense. On one hand, we have employees in the sandwich generation, looking after both their own children and elderly parents.
“These individuals are concerned not only about looking after younger and older dependents, but also themselves as they move into their old age. The pressure is acute, impacting their mental, physical and financial health, which in turn impacts productivity at work. For employers, on the other hand, the situation is likely to grow, with a particular consideration for women as they are more likely to manage caring responsibilities.
“At a minimum, this issue will impact productivity, absence, healthcare costs and retirement age, as well as diversity and inclusion. Neither the government nor employer eldercare eco-systems are currently strong enough to manage the likely strain.”
He adds: “Given the wide-ranging impacts of the aging population, there are a number of ways employers can take action. Some are more easily established, such as policies, services and benefits that can be formed to create a programme of support. In time, an eldercare eco-system could include support for both short- and long-term care, assisting with searches for residential care, facilitating home modifications for adult dependents, flexible working hours, financial wellbeing and helping to promote a healthy life through emotional and physical wellbeing programmes.
“Understanding employee data will help employers develop the most relevant response. Some potential metrics may be easier to point to such as absence or engagement data. In other areas, value is harder to measure, such as the impact on productivity or presenteeism, but action should ultimately support all aspects of individual wellbeing. The aim here for employers is to create stronger, more resilient employees, who are able to cope better with the stresses of modern life.”
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