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2006 MetLife Caregiving Cost Study: The Impact on Productivity to U.S. Business

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Caregiving is a growing responsibility for more and more employees and it is costing businesses in lost time and productivity, according to a 2006 study,

The 2006 MetLife Caregiving Cost Study: Productivity Losses to U.S. Business found that employees with adult caregiving responsibilities may be frequently absent from work or experience other workplace disruptions, which results in lost productivity for employers that could cost as much as $33.6 billion a year. The study also found that providing employees with flexibility in how, when, and where they work (through flextime and telecommuting) can help reduce workplace disruptions and lost time while keeping caregiving employees productive.

The study estimates the productivity losses to U.S. businesses that make workplace accommodations as a result of employee caregiving responsibilities. These include costs associated with replacing employees, absenteeism, partial absenteeism, crisis in care, workday interruptions (such as coming in late and leaving early), supervisory time, unpaid leave, and reducing hours from full time to part time.

According to this study, done in conjunction with the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, it costs American business $33.6 billion ($2,110 per employee per year) for the approximately 16 million employees who provide general and intermittent support for their elderly dependents. In addition, it costs another $17.1 billion ($2,441 per employee per year) for the approximately 7 million employees who provide more intense and frequent caregiving support. (For a copy of the study, click here.)

The use of flexible work arrangements such as flextime and telecommuting was cited as one way employers could reduce lost time and productivity. In addition, when managers and supervisors are sensitive to the needs of caregiving employees, that sensitivity often leads to increased worker productivity.

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