Caregiving Perspective: Impact of Caregiving on Employment

In many families, both the person who has MS and the caregiver work in jobs outside the home. The impact of MS on the employer, therefore, is not only directly related to the individual with the medical condition but also the person or persons providing support to that individual. However, according to a recent study by Harvard Business School, most employers seem unaware that caregiving significantly impacts their bottom lines.1 Maybe they should pay closer attention.

According to the report, approximately 75% of the workforce they surveyed had caregiving responsibilities. These responsibilities influenced their ability to be productive at work. According to the study, a third (33%) of those surveyed stopped work to care for an ill parent. Another forth (25%) provided care to a spouse.1

Increased loss of revenue

More than half of those surveyed quit work because they could not afford to pay a caregiver and continue to work. Forty percent could not physically meet the demands of working and providing caregiving duties both. Additional costs come into play related to:

  • Absenteeism and tardiness
  • Wasted dollars on errors
  • Reduced productivity due to fatigue
  • Increased customer complaints
  • Increased miscommunication

Safety and customer service impact

Concerns related to safety and customer service would seem to me to be of greater significance to companies overall than the impact on employee turnover. Workers who are tired, preoccupied, worried, distracted, or physically exhausted cannot perform at their best. Many make mistakes and errors in judgment. They skip steps to finish quicker. They forget what step they last performed or who needs what next. Individuals who are tired receive customer service complaints because they don’t handle frustrated and impatient customers as well as others. The exhausted caregiver may either argue or give in to make the angry customer go away. Caregivers often wait in dread expecting to hear of a mistake made. They carry huge burdens of guilt, afraid they missed something important at work or home. If all went well that day, they say a prayer of thanksgiving that another day has passed without mishap.

Caregiving assistance

Families eligible for Medicaid assistance may be able to receive help under the Medicaid Consumer-Directed Care waiver. Using this waiver, a family member or friend, who does not live with the patient can be paid to provide help with bathing, dressing transportation, housekeeping, and many other services. However, if you don’t qualify for Medicaid, your options are limited to volunteer or what your insurance covers.

Our situation

We don't qualify for Medicaid, so our expenses are all out of pocket.

I've tried:

  • Full-time telework/caregiver role
  • Part-time telework/onsite work with a part-time paid caregiver
  • Full-time on-site work/full-time in-home caregiver

All have advantages and disadvantages; all still left me feeling exhausted. Trying to be a full-time caregiver and worker both, however, was physically detrimental to me and detrimental to my career. I wouldn't recommend that one as an option if you can avoid it. I realize though sometimes it's your only option. It was for me at the time. However, it left me with several physical issues long term and kept me from taking steps in career growth that are affecting me now.

What Could Help?

What could help?

  • Flexible arrival and departure times – just 30 minutes. Set a particular schedule but provide employees with a grace period of up to 30 minutes. They still work the full 8 hours but flex the arrival/departure times. To reduce the impact of abuse, managers can create consequences such as performance improvement projects or work on other productivity projects.
  • A quiet lounge area with a recliner for meal and rest breaks and a vending area with a power shakes to purchase for lunch or snacks. Employees could nap for their break and drink the shake afterward for nutrition. Power naps work wonders to clear the mind and re-energize. Station an attendant in the lounge for security purposes and wake-up calls.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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