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A Silent Crisis: Working Caregivers
Are Begging For Help
By Gema G. Hernandez, D.P.A.
At time when private enterprises are
trying to increase productivity, reduce costs and
enhance the quality of their products or services there
is a growing crisis in corporations today that is
preventing them from achieving their corporate goals.
Few companies realize the implications working
caregivers have on their internal costs and their bottom
line. Still fewer companies even know where to look for
these hidden costs. Only one in seventy midsize to
larger companies knows how to address this issue.
The closest thing a company associates with the cost of
caregiving to the company is the absenteeism reports.
Even in cases where absenteeism is recorded, the
relationship between the numbers of days missed by
workers and the reason for the number of days is not
clearly established. Absenteeism may be the most obvious
cost to the workforce, but it is not the only cost or
the most expensive cost. Other factors such as
attrition, loss of good workers, increased health
insurance coverage, overtime, and constant recruitment
of new workers also cost the company and the workers.
The number of caregivers in the workforce has increased
threefold in the last five years and will continue to
increase in the next ten years. What we are seeing today
is only the beginning and unless companies begin to help
their working caregivers they themselves will not be
able to keep their competitive advantage in the global
economy. This is no longer a problem that affects only
women in the workforce or lower income workers, but is a
problem that exists at the CEO level as well as the
lower administrative levels of the company echelon. This
is a problem that also affects working men, and young
and older workers alike. For years the problem has been
handled by the mid level managers who have used leniency
in granting permission for workers to leave early, come
late, refuse to work overtime and while the managers
have done their best to help good workers balance jobs
and work the poor workers have been left alone to tackle
the problem. For years the problem has been handled
silently by the working caregiver who has given up
promotions, careers, training opportunities to provide
care to a family member. But these individual solutions
are no longer appropriate or recommended.