With the wider availability of COVID-19 vaccines and most kids around the world back in school and daycare, you might think that caregiving employees—those juggling jobs and responsibilities for family members—would be breathing a bit easier.

In fact, according to a new BCG survey of more than 19,000 employees in Japan, Germany, and the US, caregiver stress levels are higher than ever. Those that take care of children or aging parents are 1.4 times more likely to feel worried about their well-being and their future on the job than those without such responsibilities—an increase since BCG’s last caregiver survey, conducted in October 2020.

And the increased stress is affecting how well caregivers think they’re performing at work. In Japan, they are almost one and a half times as likely as those without caregiving responsibilities to feel that their performance has declined during the pandemic. In Germany and the US, they are twice as likely to feel that way.

The continuing uncertainties of the pandemic are at the heart of caregiver stress, along with staffing shortages in the care industry as well as the prohibitive cost of care. Japan and the US are in the top ten of the most expensive countries for childcare, costing up to one-third of a couple’s earnings.

Employers must step in and support their caregiving employees, both to keep them from leaving the workforce and to enable others to join. This means establishing broad childcare benefits, along with flexible work options. It also means creating an inclusive workplace, where employees feel comfortable speaking up about the challenges they face.

Read the full article here.