Don’t lose top talent because of the COVID-19 crisis. As the pandemic continues to affect workers around the world, even those who have avoided infection by the virus are under a great deal of stress. This is especially true for caregivers—those with children as well as those responsible for adults or aging parents. Not only do these workers face the burden of providing care for others, but many feel misunderstood and unsupported by their employers.
To find out more, we reached out to 14,100 caregivers in the US and Europe, all full- or part-time employees of large companies. (See the sidebar, “Survey Methodology.”) In this, our third pandemic caregiver survey, we found that caregivers in most countries were significantly more worried about job security and their physical and mental well-being than were non-caregivers. The difference was particularly high in the US.
Over half of parents surveyed—both women and men—said their home responsibilities had increased during the pandemic while their ability to perform their work had decreased. In addition, parents were concerned about being at a disadvantage compared to other employees. Our data shows that an average of 20% of mothers and 15% of fathers in the US and Europe felt their managers did not understand how their responsibilities at home had changed during the pandemic. And similar percentages said their companies had not offered support that directly addresses these additional responsibilities.
While many companies have offered flexible work locations and other accommodations during the crisis, we found that 20% still offered no accommodations at all, and that most of the companies that offered no support as of July 2020 still offered none as of our survey in October.
Under these circumstances, perhaps it’s no surprise that caregivers—especially those caring for either an adult or a young child—were almost twice as likely as non-caregivers to say they would leave their current employer within the next six months. Yet replacing an employee is extremely expensive, with hiring and training costing 50% to 75% of the employee’s annual salary and as much as 200% for highly trained individuals.
The wider availability of vaccines will help a great deal. Nonetheless, caregivers need more support from their employers. While many managers are operating under stressful conditions themselves, we recommend responding with empathy—reaching out to understand, prioritize, and accommodate caregivers. In addition, companies should stop judging their workers solely on traditional performance metrics and instead factor each employee’s caregiver status into their evaluations.