The purpose of this article is to identify an issue that many of your employees are likely to experience throughout the course of their careers, and to offer employers a solution that will keep these valued employees from lapsing into a preventable state of distraction and worry in the first place.
It has been well documented that if employee problems are left un-addressed, they will ultimately have a negative impact on the organization’s bottom line. According to a 2013 Gallop report, ‘active disengagement’ by employees costs United States employers an estimated $550 billion annually. Combine this with the fact that an average of 15 people ages 65+ die in car accidents every day in the United States, and you now have a potential new problem in the workplace.
Earlier this year, Caring.com conducted a nationwide survey that showed a whopping 60% of family caregivers say their caregiving duties have a negative effect on their job. In a similar study, MetLife reports that employees who are also caregivers cost employers at least 8% more in healthcare costs. These same caregivers are often faced with the issue of worrying about mom or dad’s safety as drivers, which establishes the premise of this article.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that on average, we out live our safe driving years by 7-10 years. For those of us still in the work force, that means there may very well come a day when we become concerned about a loved one’s safe driving abilities. In its early days, those initial concerns are very manageable and will likely require no outside assistance. However, if left unaddressed, those initial ‘concerns’ can easily morph into a deeper rooted worry or even fear, which is sure to erode the employee’s well-being and otherwise high level of productivity.
To add to the complexity of the problem, the issue of taking the keys away from a parent has been known to divide entire families. Adult siblings, otherwise close to each other their entire lives, can end up at war with each other (and/or with their parents) on how best to address the driving issue. Imagine the stress this is likely to cause for an otherwise very productive employee. In some cases, if not handled properly, this family issue can even result in tragedy.
One must wonder how many employees lost work time as a result of these preventable tragedies:
- “Elderly man runs over, drags and kills woman at Costco gas station”, KTAR News, Scottsdale, AZ
- “Two 6-year-olds pinned against Walgreen’s wall by elderly driver”, ABC News, San Francisco, CA
- “Man, 77, crashes car into Maryland Sam’s Club; bystander needs amputation”, The Huffington Post, New York, NY
The list of people adversely affected by any one of these completely avoidable tragedies is infinitely long. Many lives have been affected…forever. The short list of affected employees includes immediate family members of the older driver and the victims, extended family members, witnesses, property owners, neighbors, etc.
Imagine for a moment how heavy the hearts were of any adult children from the above tragedies when they finally returned to work. Sadly, the employee may struggle, sometimes for the rest of their lives, with a sense of ‘I should have done more to get mom to quit driving.’
The sole mission and purpose of Keeping Us Safe and our “Beyond Driving with Dignity” program is to work with families to help older drivers with diminished driving skills make a smooth transition from the driver’s seat to the passenger seat before tragedy strikes.
Keeping Us Safe’s self-assessment program for older drivers is an early intervention program, designed (in part) to relieve a valued employee’s distress surrounding an elderly parent’s driving.
Having taken appropriate and effective action through timely use of the “Beyond Driving with Dignity” program, employees will no longer obsessively dwell on the driving safety of mom or dad. Your valued employees will be able to focus on organizational goals and job responsibilities and will not be distracted by concerns over their loved one’s safety and the risk they might be posing to others. Bringing a peaceful resolve to the senior’s driving issue will surely bring the worried employee’s concentration, focus and organizational skills back to the expected level of performance.
According to AARP, boomers will be turning 65 at a rate of about 8,000 a day for the next 18 years! Professionals, academia and the general public often refer to this trend as the Silver Tsunami. The issue of age related diminished driving skills is not going away anytime soon. It has been said that organizations that do not have a plan in place to address the driving issue with families, will soon be surpassed by the ones that do.
Keeping Us Safe’s “Beyond Driving with Dignity” program can help employers:
- Decrease healthcare costs
- Enhance employee well-being
- Increase employee productivity
- Improve employee engagement
- Reduce employee absenteeism, and
- Strengthened recruitment and employee retention
In addition to saving lives, proper utilization of this program will arm managers with yet another tool in dealing with difficult, complex and sensitive employee issues. If you are an employer, human resource coordinator, benefits coordinator or an EAP professional, and are interested in learning more about this problem-solving program, please feel free to contact us at 877-907-8841, or visit the Keeping Us Safe website at www.keepingussafe.org.