By Ira Dember
Image credit: Freestock.cSeptember 2021: The US Senate resembles a field of carnage as politicians clash over a proposed $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill. This “infrastructure package” includes hundreds of billions to help fund caregiving that’s unaffordable for most families. Progressives call it “care infrastructure.” Conservatives say that’s nonsense: roads and bridges are infrastructure.
Regardless of label, families will benefit. But politicians, pundits and the public largely overlook another crucial fact: America’s employers will benefit as much or more. The “care infrastructure” will:
1. Prevent workflow disruptions caused by employees forced to manage caregiving for elders, children, spouses and other family members.
2. Improve productivity by minimizing employee distractions sparked by urgent personal caregiving priorities.
3. Streamline HR — reduce HR costs and complications — by eliminating temporary staffing, schedule-juggling and other workarounds to accommodate workers’ caregiving needs.
4. Reduce turnover and employee burnout by removing high-stress conflicts between work and personal caregiving responsibilities.
5. Ease upward pressure on wages by increasing the accessible labor supply. Caregiving keeps valued employees in the active workforce, or frees them to return to work.
6. Boost profitability through all the employer advantages cited above.
7. Fuel small-business growth by letting local independent business owners and startup entrepreneurs hire talented people — competing more evenly with big, rich companies that offer caregiving benefits. Think fair market and level playing field.
8. Strengthen global competitiveness. Non-US employers often get public-system support for their workers’ caregiving needs. In many nations it’s taken for granted. Unfair advantage!
Given compelling business advantages like these, conservative politicians might rethink opposition to “care infrastructure,” regardless of the odd label.
As these points show, public funding for family caregiving unleashes free enterprise to do what it does best: enhance prosperity and support good jobs. Constituents in the business community should demand it loud and long.
Bottom line: forget labels. If you’re truly pro-business, you must be pro-care. It’s among the smartest ways we can invest in America.