Two Fortune Global 500 companies are recognizing the value of supporting employees who are also unpaid family caregivers – those who help loved ones of any age who are ill, frail or living with a disability or mental illness. Pharmaceutical giants Novartis and Sanofi established workplace supports for their employees playing this dual role, turning to United Way of Northern New Jersey Caregivers Coalition as an authority on the issue.
With six in 10 family caregivers holding down jobs, these companies understand the need for workplace support is critical, particularly for ALICE and poverty-level caregivers – those living paycheck to paycheck who cannot afford to miss work.
Access to workplace resources and supports helps employees balance the juggling act they face daily with work and caregiving responsibilities colliding. An understanding work environment can help to reduce stress, improve health among caregivers, and have a positive financial impact as productivity increases and absenteeism lowers.
Employers can reap huge benefits, too. Businesses lose an estimated $33.6 billion annually in part to recruit and train replacements for employees who leave their jobs to care for a loved one, according to AARP research. Accommodating caregivers has a positive impact on retention efforts, allowing companies to save money. And it’s the right thing to do.
“Through the efforts of companies like Novartis and Sanofi, unpaid caregivers are getting much-needed assistance during a time when they often don’t know where to turn,” said Health Impact Area Director Carol DeGraw, who oversees the five Coalitions across the United Way of Northern New Jersey region. “Such companies are visionary and serve as a model in the business world.”
Establishing onsite support
As companies such as Novartis and Sanofi seek to support their caregiver employees, they’ve found the Coalition uniquely equipped to help them in this mission. Sanofi US recently tapped the Coalition when it wanted to establish CareGIVE, its caregiver employee resource group. The Coalition worked with Sanofi to hold a Caregivers Summit at its Bridgewater headquarters. The Summit served as a launching pad for raising awareness and letting caregiver employees know they had a supportive work environment.
Helping Sanofi deliver on its CareGIVE mission, the Coalition has also brought its Munch & Learn Program onsite, allowing employees to attend free monthly presentations on a range of essential caregiving topics in person or via webinar or access presentation materials through the company’s intranet. Surveyed webinar participants have responded overwhelmingly positive, and all employees throughout Sanofi’s nationwide footprint have the convenience of online access to a wealth of caregiver resources and information courtesy of the Coalition.
“We are acutely aware of the issues facing caregivers, both inside and outside our company’s walls,” said John Spinnato, Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility, Sanofi North America. “As an expert resource, the United Way Caregivers Coalition helped us raise awareness and provide workplace supports for our employees who are caregivers.”
Providing critical resources
Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation brings critical resources directly to its employees at its U.S. Headquarters in East Hanover through its employee resource group, Caregivers Alliance for Resources, Education and Service (CARES). The Coalition has partnered with CARES to bring other top caregiving organizations to the company for a bi-annual employee resource fair, secure speakers for the group’s lunch ‘n learn series, and provide updates on available Coalition events and resources.
“We are committed to developing a supportive community for current caregivers and to drawing upon the insights of our associates who are caregivers as we seek to better serve patients,” said Bob Spurr, Country Head & Vice President, Patient Access and Health Policy, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, who is the executive sponsor of CARES. “The United Way Caregivers Coalition has been an invaluable partner in helping Novartis to assist our employees who are caregivers. This benefits not only the employees, but those they look after as well, and ultimately has helped us to make a difference for patients.”
United Way connected more than 1,200 unpaid caregivers to information, education, resources, and services in the past year. Support United Way and help us improve the lives of unpaid caregivers.