Starbucks, Best Buy and TripAdvisor Offer Employee Caregiver Benefits. Here’s Why Home Care Agencies Should Care.

Recognizing the competitive value of home care providers, a growing number of employers in various industries have started offering caregiving benefits as a way to improve workers’ attendance, morale and performance.

While programs vary, they often offer employees a set number of subsidized care days per year — preventing workers from taking time off when their elderly parents, children or even pets need care.

Many corporate giants — such as Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX), Best Buy (NYSE: BBY) and TripAdvisor (Nasdaq: TRIP) — have turned to third party companies such as Care.com to offer these benefits. But moving forward, traditional home care agencies could have ample opportunity to set their own seat at the table, industry experts predict.

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“We definitely think there is an opportunity for our members to move forward and be in front of these companies,” Phil Bongiorno — executive director for the Home Care Association of America (HCAOA) — told Home Health Care News. “Some companies are providing an extensive paid-time-off benefit, but what if you just turned to home care providers to offer employees professional caregiving in the first place?”

A Harvard Business School study backs up that idea.

About 32% of employees say they’ve voluntarily left a job due to caregiving responsibilities, according to the study, with another 80% claiming their caregiving duties affected their productivity at work. Those statistics — along with the authors of the report — suggest employers will be able to attract and retain a more productive workforce by offering employee caregiver benefits.  

Popular options

Currently, one of the most popular employee caregiver benefit platforms is Care.com’s Care@Work program.

Waltham, Massachusetts-based Care.com (NYSE: CRCM) is an online family care platform where users can find third-party caregivers for children, seniors and pets.

Meanwhile, Care@Work — which offers two different employee caregiver benefit programs — has about 250 corporate clients, according to Alyssa Johnson, vice president of global account management for Care@Work.

“We’re definitely seeing more and more companies adding these benefits,” Johnson told HHCN. “The Care@Work division is the fastest growing division of Care.com, and within that, we’re absolutely seeing senior care as a growing need.”

A bevy of high profile corporate clients use Care@Work — from Starbucks and Best Buy to TripAdvisor and P&G’s (NYSE:PG) Gillette brand. Facebook (Nasdaq: FB) was the program’s first client.

“In 2010, [Facebook] called us and said, we’ve been talking to employees, and they use and love Care.com,” Johnson said. “Is that something we can subsidize as a benefit? And at the time, we weren’t in the B2B space.”

Since then, the program has taken off. While clients can customize their benefit offerings, Care@Work offers clients two different basic frameworks: a digital program and a backup care program.

Companies who go the digital route pay to gain their employees access to Care.com’s platform, where they can find third-party caregivers of their own. The backup care plan gives employees access to caregivers employed directly by Care.com or one of its partner agencies, Johnson said.

While Care@Work client TripAdvisor started by offering backup care to U.S. employees, it has since expanded the benefits internationally and customized its offerings to include personalized expert care this year, a spokesperson told HHCN in an email.

“On average, 40% of our employees use one or more of the programs offered during the course of a year,” the spokesperson said, noting that the benefits help keep employees present at work.

Prices associated with offering the benefits vary by program and company size.

While Johnson declined to disclose the number and names of Care@Work’s senior care partners, she said the company expects to add more in the years to come — promising information for home care providers and adult day care operators nationwide.

“In order to meet the needs of the clients we have coming on and their need to support their employees with senior care and backup care, I would expect that we’ll be expanding our relationships with [senior care] providers,” she said.

Some other popular employee caregiver benefit providers include Burlington, Massachusetts-based Torchlight; Watertown, Massachusetts-based Bright Horizons (NYSE: BFAM); and New York City-based Wellthy.

Provider opportunities

Rather than partnerships with third-party companies, HCAOA’s Bongiorno has something else in mind for home care providers hoping to get a piece of the employee caregiver benefit pie: a new outreach initiative designed to gain agencies direct opportunities.  

“HCAOA has created an initiative that would allow corporate leaders from a range of industries to identify quality home care options and caregiver support as part of their employee benefits package,” Bongiorno said.

HCAOA recently started reaching out to a number of corporations to discuss benefit opportunities for members, Bongiorno — who declined to name target corporations — said.

“An alternative to online matchmaking platforms that lack accountability and oversight, this initiative is intended primarily as a resource to inform corporations and their employees of home care providers that employ caregivers lawfully, follow quality standards, coordinate and execute care plans, provide oversight and supervision of caregivers, and verify caregiver qualifications,” he said.

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