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A new report from Harvard Business School reveals that although companies believe they save money by passing more health care expenses onto workers, they actually tax themselves, especially as they continue to ignore the caregiving crisis that faces many workers. Three-quarters of employees surveyed said they provide some sort of care duty for a family member, and nearly all of them said this responsibility affects their work life. “By not offering benefits that employees actually want – and by not encouraging employees to use the benefits they do offer – companies incur millions of dollars of hidden costs due to employee turnover, loss of institutional knowledge, and temporary hiring,” says the report, authored by Joseph B. Fuller and Manjari Raman.

When workers are overburdened in their personal lives, they show up late, are sick at work, leave early and do not give the most to their job. The study reports that “the rising costs of health care has put pressure on Americans to offset those costs by providing more informal, personal care for older family members.” Workers need additional help, and companies looking to retain top talent should make the investment. Researchers found a misalignment between what employers believe their employees want and what they actually want. Some employers have been offering better paternity leave packages or more flexible work hours in recent years, but workers also need services that assist them with caregiving, such as referrals to or subsidies for adult caregiving services or onsite childcare. In the coming years, millennials will only face more pressure to drop out of the workforce as the demands of caring for their aging parents and young children grow. Employers need to provide assistance if they want to remain productive.

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