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Emory University

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Emory University
Number of Employees: 12,000
Atlanta (additional 14,000 within their health-care system)

This employer undertook a planning process to determine how they would design their eldercare program. Prior to this planning stage, there were small initiatives across the campus but no unified approach. This process exemplifies a thoughtful and comprehensive approach to addressing the needs of employees with eldercare responsibilities and represents a comprehensive planning model.

The Planning Process
The university completed several assessments and evaluations of employees to identify need among its workforce including:

  • Work-life Audit of Programs & Services (2009) by WFD Consulting
  • Comprehensive Dependent Care Needs Assessment in 2009-10 including:
    • Local market analysis (Brown Richards & Associates)
    • Demographic analysis and dependent care survey (Bright Horizons Consulting)

The dependent care survey of university employees had a 27 percent response rate by faculty/staff.

The survey indicated that 15 percent of employees had eldercare responsibilities (at the time the survey was conducted) and nearly 60 percent of employees reported that they were concerned about being able to effectively balance work and elder care responsibilities within the next one to three years.

Charge to the Planning Group
Based on the recommendations of an internally led work-life task force and the results of the comprehensive dependent care needs assessment, university leadership endorsed a working group “charged to explore the feasibility of enhancing employer-sponsored support to employees with adult caregiving responsibilities” with the goal of:

  1. Increasing employee engagement
  2. Reducing absenteeism
  3. Minimizing the need for an employee to miss time from work or drop out of the workforce

The working group’s activities took place from May to December 2011; meeting every three weeks for 90 minutes. The group was chaired by a work-life specialist at the university and included a team of experts from within and outside of the university (gerontologist, geriatrician, research faculty, employee assistance professional, eldercare consultants from a large metropolitan city, an elder law attorney, representative from a peer institution, a chaplain and a work-life expert).

Methodology for the group’s work included review of the following:

  • Business drivers
  • University demographics
  • Existing policies, programs and practices
  • Employer-sponsored eldercare programs

The group completed its recommendations in December 2011. They were classified in three distinct categories:

  1. Existing program modifications
  2. Policy recommendations
  3. Program recommendations

Planning is underway to implement specific recommendations and create a unified program to support caregiving employees.