People taking care of parents or other loved ones at home while also holding a job are struggling to excel at work, according to a Northwestern Mutual study of working caregivers.

The insurance company’s annual “C.A.R.E. Study” (it stands for “costs, accountabilities, realities, expectations”) reveals the degree to which caring for a friend or loved one can impact a person’s work responsibilities and career path.

The company found that two-thirds of caregivers, many in their prime working years, are employed while tending to a parent or relative. Nearly three-quarters of both millennials and Gen Xers balance caregiving and employment, the highest percentage across the generations, and nearly 70% of both groups said caregiving has had an impact on their careers.

Half of caregivers are working full time, the study said, and most of them are working a traditional 9 to 5 shift. Nearly a third of the respondents said they are not working at all. Among the things that had weighed heavily on their career efforts were lost income or the impact on earning potential; lost opportunities for advancement or promotion; and the need to cut back on professional responsibilities.

The report said that men are more likely than women to be balancing work and caregiving, but earn more than women in the study. Over two-thirds of men (67%) said their role as caregiver has impacted their careers, while a little over half of women said the same (58%).

Flexible schedules were important to those surveyed. Nineteen percent of the caregivers said they missed days or took a leave of absence. Another 19% had to change their schedule or shift, 16% had to use vacation time, and 14% had to reduce work hours.

Only 13% of caregivers said they had to hire childcare support for their own children, but 23% said they had to hire a cleaning service; 21% said they had to outsource their meal preparation; and 23% had to hire help with their own errands, such as grocery shopping, dry cleaning, etc.

Many caregivers said they preferred to keep their personal responsibilities to themselves at work. Almost a quarter of respondents said their colleagues did not know they are also caregivers, and nearly three out of 10 (28%) said their colleagues were unaware of how they spent their time outside the office as caregivers.

“Caregiving has real, day-to-day and long-term implications for all aspects of people’s lives—emotionally, practically and financially,” said Dave Simbro, senior vice president of risk products at Northwestern Mutual. “Beyond the day-to-day impact, caregiving can have repercussions for people’s careers that may not be fully understood until much later, which is why planning around long-term-care needs is critical.”

This second round of findings from the 2019 study was based on a Harris Poll of 1,400 American adults, aged 18 and older, who are currently or have previously provided care for someone. The online survey was conducted between February 13 and February 22, 2019.

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