Benefits for Caregivers: A Competitive Advantage That Can Help Make a Difference

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Many of your employees, myself included, may moonlight as caregivers in their personal lives – and if they aren’t, they could very well be called upon to do so in their future. In addition to this, each of us must also grapple with the question of how to plan for our own future needs and care today as we age.

As a new mom, I’ve seen firsthand that the demands of caregiving extend far beyond the immediate day-to-day needs of mental and physical health: there’s also financial health to consider. account. And when you’re caring for loved ones of all ages, financial needs can become increasingly complex over time.

Wherever your employees are today, it’s critical that organizations take steps to help them manage the many financial planning and budgeting considerations that come with caring responsibilities, whether caring children, adults or even to plan their own future.

First: Understand care needs

Caregiving can take many forms and look different depending on individual needs, but recent data can give us an idea of ​​what the big picture looks like for your employees today:

  • Roughly 1/5 of Americans provide unpaid care to an adult for an average of 24 hours/week
  • More than half of caregivers feel they had no choice but to take responsibility
  • 28% of caregivers stop saving, 23% take on more debt and 22% run out of short-term savings
  • Almost 4 out of 5 caregivers incur out-of-pocket expenses as a result of caregiving and, on average, spend a quarter of their income on caregiving
  • While caregivers span all demographics, ages, ethnicities and income levels, women make up more than 75% of all caregivers
  • Women caregivers report higher levels depression, anxiety and decreased life satisfaction
  • Almost half of caregivers (47%) are experiencing at least one financial setback, such as dipping into their savings, cutting expenses, or reducing their pension contributions and investments
  • Providing care in the United States in 2021 costs one national median $54,000 for assisted living facilities, $61,776 for home health aides and $108,405 for private rooms in retirement homes

The good news: the workplace can become a key resource to help employees make informed decisions about their care needs. In fact, the workplace may be the first place some turn to for resources and support: At Morgan Stanley, our research shows that over 70% of workers would be willing to receive personal financial support at work from a financial professional, four out of five want their employers to be more involved in helping them overcome their financial difficulties, and almost as much say their company needs to help them better understand how to maximize their current benefits.

Take Action: Help Employees Make the Connection

Your employees may not realize it yet, but workplace benefits can help them create the financial foundation they need to cover their caregiving needs. It’s up to employers to show them how the benefits of education and financial wellness offers can make a difference.

Focus targeted webinars, employee resource group discussions, and education campaigns on topics such as changing care needs over time, what a care plan entails, and budgeting for retirement and long-term care. There are also many community and federal resources for caregivers that employees may need help finding. Include additional Medicare and Social Security information in retirement benefit enrollment communications. Consider highlighting organizations such as Caregiver Action Network and The National Caregiver Support Program, as well as government-subsidized programs that help caregivers with out-of-pocket expenses. Help connect employees to professionals who can help them navigate the complex financial landscape of caregiving, such as tax professionals, social workers, geriatric care managers and care counsellors.

Additionally, financial wellness programs in the workplace can help with many common money issues that affect caregivers, such as budgeting, managing debt, and building financial wellness at home. long term. Additionally, many of these resources are available remotely and on demand. Check to see if your provider offers free access to financial planning apps or websites, emergency savings with an employer match, or even employer contributions toward student loan repayment.

And if you don’t already offer financial coaching or access to a financial advisor through your workplace benefits, it might be worth considering. Professional financial advice can help employees personalize their financial planning and adapt to changing circumstances. For example, our counselors often suggest that caregivers make two separate budgets, one for themselves and one for their loved one. Importantly, a workplace financial advisor can also help uncover opportunities to further stretch budgets and employee benefits, whether that be maximizing public transportation coverage or finding insurance. appropriate long-term care.

Bottom Line: Caregiving Means Real Long-Term Support

As former First Lady Rosalynn Carter once said, “There are four types of people in this world: those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will have need for caregivers. Because caregiving touches us all, there is a real need and deep opportunity for the workplace to join with employees to empower them financially for the long term.

And while it can be hard to think about illness or needing help, covering the costs of caregiving is an important part of planning for the future – and your employees will appreciate your support in planning for the future. financial considerations of caregiving, both for themselves and for their loved ones. relatives.

Krystal Barker Buissereth is Financial Wellness Manager at Morgan Stanley at work.

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Richard V. Johnson