Workplace flexibility is the most used, wanted benefit among caregivers: AARP

A flexible schedule is the workplace benefit most used among family caregivers, according to an S&P Global and AARP survey published Thursday.

S&P Global and AARP conducted a survey of 1,200 full-time and part-time employees last fall who said they spent at least six hours a week providing unpaid care for another adult.

Access to a flexible work schedule was the most common caregiving support offered at companies; 45 percent of survey respondents said it was an available option for them.

Out of those family caregivers, 80 percent used a flexible work schedule, and 84 percent of those people said it was very helpful for balancing their jobs and caregiving responsibilities.

Unpaid family caregivers also commonly took advantage of teleworking.

About a quarter of survey respondents said their companies offered telework or work-from-home options.

Among those workers, about 72 percent said they worked from home, with 84 percent of those same people reporting the flexible work option was very helpful.

“The best practice that we found through this survey in employers’ policy and support really is to offer flexible schedules and flexible work locations,” Alexandra Dimitrijevic, co-chair of S&P Global Research Council, said in a press conference ahead of the survey’s release.

Dimitrijevic added that the percentage of companies offering flexible schedules has gone up sizably since 2020, when 32 percent of workers said their companies offered flexible hours or the option to work from home.

The overwhelming majority of unpaid family caregivers who work remotely feel supported in their caregiving roles by their immediate manager or supervisor. But caregivers who work remotely are more likely to feel penalized because of caregiving duties than in-office or hybrid workers who are caregivers.

Almost 50 percent of unpaid family caregivers who work remotely have felt they have been penalized at work for their caregiving responsibilities, according to the survey.

Meanwhile, about 26 percent of family caregivers who work on a hybrid schedule and about 32 percent of caregivers who work in-office said the same.

“This may reflect employer challenges in assessing and engaging with remote employees’ work-life needs,” the report reads.

There are currently 48 million Americans who serve as an unpaid family caregiver, according to the AARP.

The number of unpaid caregivers is expected to climb as the nation ages, which it is doing rapidly. By the 2030s, the number of adults 65 and older will surpass the country’s population of children, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Many family caregivers find it challenging to balance a job with caregiving duties.

The survey found that 67 percent of working family caregivers struggle to balance their job with caregiving responsibilities, and 27 percent have shifted from full-time to part-time work or have reduced hours.

Some working caregivers — 16 percent — have stopped working entirely for a period of time, while 13 percent have changed employers to meet caregiving responsibilities, the survey found.

And caregiving poses a huge financial burden, with the average unpaid family caregiver working 20 hours a week and spending roughly $7,200 a year on caregiving-related costs, according to Susan Reinhard, senior vice president and director of AARP Public Policy Institute.

In total, family caregivers are providing $600 billion worth of unpaid labor every year, according to Reinhard.

“I just think today’s report should be a wake-up call to all U.S. employers about the financial stress that face family caregivers nationwide,” said

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