Most employers believe that their people are their biggest asset. We are told over and over again, surround yourself with people smarter than you and give them room and leadership to succeed. Richard Branson is famous for saying, “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your clients.” We spend thousands of dollars each year to recruit top candidates to build our teams, and even more annually in training, team bonding, and improvement programs. We strive to provide the best and most competitive benefits and support wellness programs, mindfulness, and other mental health programs. We have even resorted to ball pits, video games, ping-pong tables, kegerators (guilty!), snacks, and even house cleaning services (seriously!) to help staff reduce stress.
Yet, silently and stoically people suffer day in and day out with all kinds of issues that none of the above address and this suffering bleeds into work. Family dynamics are complicated, but even more so when staff are dealing with caregiving of family members due to cancer, Alzheimer’s, drug abuse and an almost infinite number of other issues. These caregivers work tirelessly behind the scenes nights and weekends and encounter massive amounts of mental and financial stress. For example, putting your ailing parent debilitated with Alzheimer’s disease into a dedicated facility can cost in excess of $12,000 a month in the DC-area, that’s $150,000 post tax! Think about that stress — you can’t take care of your loved one at home, yet you can’t afford help. These situations play out every day, everywhere.
If we as business leaders think this doesn’t impact our companies, we are sorely mistaken.
In 2016 I co-founded the Alzheimer’s Caregiver Alliance, with the mission of easing the burden of caregiving for individuals and families touched by Alzheimer’s disease. We provide education and innovative programs that support family caregivers to those with Alzheimer’s disease. This cause is near to my heart, as both my grandmother and father succumbed to the disease. Both journeys were heart-breaking.
But let’s get back to business now…
- 1 in 4 people has a direct connection to Alzheimer’s disease.
- 15% of American workers are current or former caregivers to this disease, but this doesn’t even for spouses that consider themselves caregivers
- 69% have had to modify schedules to accommodate caregiving
- 32% have had to take a leave of absence
- 20% have had to change jobs to a less demanding role
- 20% self-admit that their work product has suffered
These statistics are STAGGERING.
Recruiting an A-player to our team can cost $25,000 or more. What is the cost of not addressing this problem, especially with the statistics above show that my A-player might leave, take time off, or just not mentally be in the game?
If you can’t win the game, change the rules. It’s time we as business leaders change the rules. Over the coming weeks, I’ll be writing more about the new rules we can adopt.