As we observe National Family Caregivers Month this November, we recognize the millions of Americans that look after and care for children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities– key populations in our society that would have difficulty supporting themselves without the help of loved ones and caregivers.

From the Presidential Proclamation:

During National Family Caregivers Month, we honor the millions of Americans who give endlessly of themselves to provide for the health and well-being of a beloved family member. Through their countless hours of service to their families and communities, they are a shining example of our Nation’s great capacity to care for each other.

With 44 million people providing care to someone over the age of 50, and with 65 million Americans taking care of a family member that is critically ill and requiring long-term care, caregivers play an important role in our economy and highlight the need for corporate and public policies to support their efforts to improve the lives of working families.

A new study published by the Families and Work Institute reveals quantitative and qualitative information on caregivers in America and the unique challenges they face.

Key findings from ‘The Elder Care Study: Everyday Realities and Wishes for Change” are:

  • Almost one in two individuals in the workforce (42 percent or nearly 54.6 million employees) have provided elder care over the past five years.
  • Just under half of the workforce (49 percent) expect to be providing elder care for a family member in the coming five years.
  • Among all individuals in the workforce, women (20 percent) and men (22 percent) are equally likely to have provided family care in the past five years.
  • Women are more likely (44 percent) than men (38 percent) to provide family care on a regular basis rather than on an intermittent basis.

A compelling finding is that for almost one in two caregivers, providing care affects their own well-being, leaving them with less time and resources to take care of themselves—for example, getting enough sleep, having a good diet or exercising or going to doctor appointments.

From the study:

Many caregivers are experiencing a time famine: 71 percent report not having enough time for their children, 63 percent report not having enough time for their spouse/partner and 63 percent report not having enough time for themselves.

What role, then, can corporate and public policy play in supporting caregivers? The business community can play an important role in supporting caregivers through workplace flexibility. According to the study, greater flexibility and more options for managing time are caregivers’ top wishes for how employers could better support them.

Corporate Voices for Working Families believes that workplace flexibility is a key management tool for 21st century success. When companies provide options to help workers manage work and life, morale and productivity increase, and businesses experience less turnover and a more engaged, productive workforce. Our research also shows that workplace flexibility practices also work well with an hourly workforce.

Through its national workplace flexibility campaign, Corporate Voices will continue to promote and build momentum for using workplace flexibility as an innovative strategy to harness key talent in the workforce. By doing so, we can enhance business performance, our national economic competitiveness and continue to improve the lives of working families.