The Caring Company: Helping Employees Manage Caregiving Responsibilities

Tuesday June 9, 2020
10:00am - 11:00am EST
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Hosted by Manjari Raman, Program Director and Senior Researcher, US Competitiveness Project & Managing the Future of Work Project, Harvard Business School 

The COVID-19 crisis has shown a spotlight on the burden of employee caregiving. American companies were already facing a caregiving crisis before COVID— they just hadn’t acknowledged it. Rising healthcare and professional caregiving costs had put great pressure on employees as they tried to balance work and care responsibilities. Still, many employers have turned a blind eye to the growing costs of this hidden “care economy” — costs that have hurt employers and employees alike. 

Given the lack of support from the workplace, pre-COVID employees hid the growing burden of their caregiving responsibilities. They struggled to balance these responsibilities with their workload, often dealing with unexpected and recurring care obligations. As a result, individual productivity suffered inflicting substantial costs to employers. If neglected, America’s simmering care crisis is only going to worsen. Given demographic trends, the frequency and intensity of care obligations are set to increase, putting more pressure on both employees and employers.

With COVID, for the first time employers are being forced to acknowledge the caregiving burdens on employees—but will it really bring about the sweeping changes that are required on how companies deal with care issues? In a “caring company,” management will both acknowledge employee care concerns and invest in innovative solutions that help boost employee productivity while allowing employees to care for their loved ones. This will require bold leadership at the strategy level. Leaders will need to understand the all-in economics of caregiving by employees and adapt how work is done to accommodate the caregiving needs of employees. What must employers do to not waste the learnings of the COVID crisis?

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