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Eldercare issues: They may be affecting your company

By PLANT STAFF   

Industry Manufacturing Conference Board eldercare health manufacturing

Programs that help employees cope reduce absenteeism and turnover.

Formal eldercare programs are not common. Photo: Fotolia

Canada’s aging population is affecting more than the replacement of retiring executives and skilled workers: its costing almost $1.3 billion in lost productivity as more employees deal with eldercare issues.

More than 25% of employed Canadians provide care and assistance to an elderly family member. A Conference Board of Canada report says this may lead to significant pressure related to balancing work with care, elevated stress levels, absenteeism and work interruptions.

The Ottawa-based research firm says this is costing companies an estimated $1.28 billion per year in lost productivity.

Formal programs are not common. A survey of primarily medium and large employers found 37% offer eldercare leave; 32% indicated the leave was unpaid; 2% offered paid leave; and another 3% offered a combination of paid and unpaid leave.

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The Juggling Act: Balancing Work and Eldercare in Canada, offers broad guidelines for developing an eldercare strategy:

• Assess obligations currently affecting employees.

• Consider measures already in place. Assistance programs offer helpful services.

• Align strategies with needs. Days off, reduced work hours or a short period of leave may be more beneficial than greater flexibility.

• Prioritize managerial and organizational support. Support from a direct manager often determines the extent to which an employee will avail themselves of eldercare accommodations.

• Adjust programs as necessary. Eldercare is unpredictable and changes over time.

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