The Impacts of an Aging Population
Today, 16.5 percent of the U.S. population is 65 years old or over – a figure which is expected to reach 22 percent by 2050. That is why it will become increasingly important to understand the effects of an aging population on recruiting and retaining talent. Specifically for global mobility, it impacts retaining and recruiting relocating families with dependent elderly parents.
Virtually every country in the world is experiencing growth in its older populations. According to the UN’s World Population Prospects 2019 report, by 2050, 1 in 6 people in the world will be over the age of 65, up from 1 in 11 in 2019. It is projected that population aging will have the greatest impact in countries or regions with high proportions of older people and high levels of consumer consumption in old age – such as in Europe, Northern America, Australia, and New Zealand.
A Sandwiched Generation Needs Support
The aging population is now a global issue affecting the families of those who relocate. While the share of middle-aged adults living in the so-called “Sandwich Generation” has increased only marginally in recent years, financial burdens associated with caring for multiple generations of family members are mounting.
More relocating families will be faced with caring for aging parents and younger family members.
Additionally, women provide most of the informal care to spouses, parents, and parents-in-law. A Pew Research Center report cited that 23 percent of Americans are raising a child and caring for a parent. Among the 44 million unpaid elder caregivers in the U.S., 61 percent are employed. Employers that recognize these demands and provide support to employees can benefit from increased employee engagement and productivity.
A U.S. study on women and caregiving highlighted the conflicting demands of work and eldercare finding that:
- 33% of working women decreased work hours
- 29% passed up a job promotion, training, or assignment
- 22% took a leave of absence
- 20% switched from full-time to part-time employment
- 16% quit their jobs
- 13% retired early
Drill down further into intercultural family roles and we see today’s educated career women in emerging market countries, such as Latin America, Russia, India, China, Japan, UAE, are still seen as each culture’s primary parental caregiver. A survey by the Center for Work-Life Policy found that while Indian women readily hire nannies for their children, only half were willing to use hired help for their aging parents and only 27 percent would consider an assisted living facility. The numbers were even lower for women in Brazil and Russia.
As the global war for talent becomes more intense and businesses seek to retain skilled employees and attract new talent, companies are encouraged to prepare for an inevitable future by developing plans to help employees with dependent children and elderly parents, including relocation benefits.
Why Relocation Benefits Are a Key Issue
While many employees choose to quietly confront difficult, emotional decisions when considering a relocation offer, the stress increases exponentially when deciding if dependent parents should relocate also or remain behind. Stella Henry, R.N., author of The Eldercare Handbook, said that this topic is “probably one of the hardest decisions a child will ever have to make...Ninety-five percent of my clients come to me in crisis situations."
Relocation is already a stressful event in the best of times and even more difficult for the elderly. Add to that the fact that once an elderly person has relocated with a son or daughter, lack of support increases the likelihood of a failed relocation, which can be very expensive.
NEI has supported numerous relocating families in similar situations and actively listens for signs of distress or concern in what is and what is not being said. If such a situation arises, having policy benefits in place can aid everyone. If the situation is discovered, a meeting can be held to determine what company benefits, job flexibility options, and services are available to retain or hire good employees.
Global Mobility Benefit Considerations
A few benefits to consider include:
- Reimbursing the employee to allow the dependent elderly parents to go on a house hunting trip
- Including extra final move travel time or an extra Household Goods pick-up at departure
- Providing specific needs-based destination / settling-in assistance for the elderly parents and relocating employee, such as support in locating appropriate senior housing / services
- Identifying available EAP benefits for stress reduction and counseling about long-term care insurance, in-home nursing assistance, etc.
- Employing the popular Discard & Donate pre-move assistance program for both households to help declutter, reduce shipping costs, and donate items not wanted before moving, if applicable
- Offering allowances and benefits, even on a one-off basis, such as a longer period in temporary living to help meet elderly parent needs
Support services can make an incredible difference in the day-to-day lives of caregivers. NEI believes that careful planning, honest discussions, and thoughtful consideration – for the needs of the entire family – will result in a more productive employee and a successful relocation.