The Talent Shortage And The Caregiving Crisis: Surprising Ways Employers Can Solve Both

 Layoffs are grabbing the headlines lately, but there is still a shortage of workers in a tremendous number of jobs. In addition, caregivers are in crisis. These may seem like two unrelated dynamics—personal demands and labor market realities—but they are actually linked in some important ways.

Caregivers are a large portion of the labor pool—so by supporting caregivers, employers alleviate the talent shortage and close the gap.

The Talent Shortage Is Real

Hearing about a talent shortage in the midst of daily news of layoffs may seem surreal, but the talent gap is real. Demographic trends—fewer babies born and fewer entry-level workers—along with a large proportion of people who have left the labor market without plans to return are driving shortages.

You feel the shortages when you endure long lines at checkouts because there aren’t enough workers, or when your favorite restaurant is closed two days a week because they don’t have staff to open. Or when you can’t get the products you want, because of labor shortages along the supply chain.

And the worker shortage is predicted to continue—at least through 2025 according to some economists. This is because of people who are aging and retiring, because births aren’t keeping pace with the number of workers required, because more people are going freelance and working fewer hours and because automation has created a mismatch between the skills workers have and the ones companies need.

Caregiving and the Talent Shortage

Enter the issue of caregiving. Significant numbers of people have left the workforce and do not intend to return because they are providing care to children or family members.

  • Fully 39 percent of women with children under five had quit their jobs and did not intend to return, according to RAPID Survey by Stanford.
  • And 60% of non-working caregivers said caregiving is a reason why they are not working, according to a survey by Givers.

Solving the Talent Shortage

But employers can play an important role in addressing the needs of caregivers—and tap into a source of employees who may have left or who are considering leaving. Here’s how:

Expand the Definitions of Caregiving

Employers can acknowledge all kinds of caregiving and therefore consider all kinds of solutions. In the last couple of years, caregiving has increased and the types of care which are provided have expanded. Employers typically think of caregiving in terms of children, but a large proportion of people also care for aging or elderly parents or family members. In fact, according to the Givers survey, 58% of caregivers are taking care of parents or grandparents.

The old reference to the “sandwich generation” continues to be apt as people raise children and care for family members who are aging and need all kinds of care.

When employers provide flexibility, benefits, or community (more on that below), they can ensure they’re considering a broad definition of the caregiving their employees are providing.

Value Caregivers’ Skills

Too often, employers see caregiving as something that gets in the way of effective performance, but they can emphasize the value caregivers bring instead. A study by (In)Credible finds 2/3 of people report greater capabilities based on their caregiving experience. Expanded skills in leadership, empathy, stress tolerance, communication, and time management are all the result of caregiving.

It stands to reason as caregivers juggle demands, face challenges and play all kinds of roles from childcare to tutoring to healthcare advocacy. For example, the Givers study finds 84% of caregivers are part of healthcare decision-making—no small challenge in terms of processing information, balancing needs, evaluating solutions, and articulating points of view.

Employers can hire those who have been out of the workforce providing care, and they can seek to provide responsibility, promotions, and rewards for caregivers based on great skills and great performance.

Foster Flexibility

Perhaps one of the primary ways employers can help caregivers and alleviate the talent shortage is by providing flexibility. Data from Givers finds one in three people plan to leave the workforce so they can focus on caregiving. And people struggle to balance work and caregiving, with 80% reporting negative impacts on their work:

  • 52% have left work early, gotten in late, or taken time off
  • 30% have had to reduce their hours
  • 28% have taken a leave of absence
  • 13% have turned down a promotion

When work requires full-time hours in the office or at the job site, it can be tough to make it all fit. But when employers are more flexible about work locations and hours, it can help—and it can keep people in the workforce who might otherwise be forced to quit.

Consider whether jobs could be done partly at home, saving the commute and allowing workers to pick up kids from school or transport elderly parents to the doctor. Perhaps the receptionist has to greet guests for part of the week, but administrative portions of the job could be done remotely. Or perhaps traditionally full-time jobs could be performed by two people in a job share or on a part-time basis. Filling jobs on a regular full-time basis may be easier, but adjusting them for part-time or remote options may expand the number of people who can fill them.

Be Creative With Benefits

Another way to support caregivers and expand the talent pool is by being creative about benefits. Caregivers may be especially strapped financially because of the cost of caregiving. In fact, according to the Givers study, 45% of caregivers report being financially strained, and since March of 2022, 42% of caregivers have taken on (additional) debt to afford the costs of caregiving. In addition, two out of three caregivers expect costs to continue to rise in the coming months.

Creative employers are offering benefits that take effect on the first day of employment, offering on-the-job training, offering access to platforms like, and subsidizing the costs of care. Some are even offering training on financial management and investing strategies to help people with the financial strain of caregiving.

Employers can also consider partnering with area daycare facilities to make childcare more accessible or setting up relationships with elder care services to free employees up to work by addressing demands through support services.

Employers can also create workplaces that nurture employees with daylight, views, napping rooms, mothers’ rooms, or the like. Often, work can be a place of respite and rejuvenation for caregivers. And places which help them connect with others (think: work cafes or coffee bars), get their work done efficiently (think: varieties of settings to address all kinds of work) and feel refreshed (think: beautiful environments) can make work a place they want to be—even amidst caregiving demands.

Build Community

The demands of caregiving can be isolating as employees run between work and caregiving responsibilities. And the mental and emotional toll can create the conditions for depression, anxiety, and burnout. Connecting with others and feeling support from a community can be tremendously helpful, so employers can also set up resource groups or affinity groups to help.

When employees can build relationships with others who are going through similar challenges on a lunch hour or through an online platform, the support can expand their personal sense of capability and resources to meet so many personal and professional demands.

Make the Effort

Perhaps the biggest thing employers can do to support caregivers is to make the effort. It may be easier to think of employees only in terms of the work they do on the job, but by considering them holistically and the dynamics of their lives in full, employers get access to more of their energy, effort, and attention.

The number of people providing care is significant, so it’s worth the effort. According to the Givers study,

  • 1 in 3 caregivers are providing 21 hours of care per week
  • 84% of caregivers are working on top of caring for their loved ones, up from 61% in 2020
  • 2 out of 3 caregivers say that caregiving is a top 3 issue facing their families

When employers find ways to address the needs of caregivers, they touch a large number of workers—and the benefits aren’t just helpful in the impact they make on how employees are able to meet demands. They also send a powerful message to employees about how an employer values them, acknowledges their needs, and seeks to invest in the employee experience—all of which contribute to retention and commitment.

A Holistic View

Employees will be most effective when organizations acknowledge them as whole people who do great work, but who also navigate plenty of other demands and expectations. Caregiving can be tough, but the Givers poll found 84% of caregivers find joy in taking care of loved ones. And work can also be a source of happiness—a place to express skills and talents and contribute to a community.

Addressing the caregiving crisis is good for people and their fulfillment. And it’s also an important way employers can access a greater number of important and valuable contributors.

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