As employers, our focus is always on the challenges of childcare, however, in a rapidly aging China, employees are also facing massive elder care obligations and expectations, which were deeply rooted in the culture. In recent years, eldercare in China has been exacerbated by the unique demographic situation caused by the one-child policy, young people migrating to larger cities, and increasing cost of living. To evaluate its impact on employees, we’ve invited two member companies to provide their perspectives.
Their sharing is greatly appreciated:
- While care for elderly parents is a topic discussed between employees, it is culturally considered a private matter and less likely to be raised with a manager or employer. Some employees will have concerns about initiating a conversation over fear of a judgement about their commitment in the workplace. It is uncommon for external Employee Assistance Programs to provide employees and managers with support for elder care issues.
- Women are more likely to have parental care responsibilities, and to make decisions which prioritise elder care over employment or a career. This is particularly the case for employees on a lower income, for whom the economic choice to engage paid home help is unviable.
- Higher paid employees are more able engage help to care for their parents, particularly in cities where such resources are available. However, caregovers with expertise in the management of a parent with failing health or dementia are less prevalent.
- Many companies in China have introduced remote work and flexible work schemes to increase their competitiveness in the marketplace. While the programs are not designed specifically to address elder care responsibilities, employees can take advantage of the flexible work practices to accommodate a range of family care needs.
- Some provinces in China have enacted paid elder care leave, available for eligible employees when an elderly parent is ill or hospitalized.
Outlook: We view the elder care experience of others through a lens with which we are familiar; the reality for employees across the globe may be quite different. An appreciation of the unique societal pressures helps drive informed conversation on the impact of elder care responsibilities and highlights the opportunities for employers to provide tangible and ongoing support.