The Growing Need for Family-Care Support and Its Impact on Employees

BY Carrie Snider | September 13, 2023

Angelina Shamborska had no clue where to start. Her mother, living in Ukraine, had just been diagnosed with challenging health issues and needed her help. “Imagine dealing with that amount of stress and the unknown,” Shamborska said.

Ironically, Shamborska is the senior director of global benefits at San Francisco-based IT company Okta, but providing family-care support to its employees was new to them. And she was about to experience the benefits firsthand.

In a fireside chat at From Day One’s webinar, “The Economic Impact of Family-Care Support: A Case Study,” Shamborska discussed what it’s been like working with Grayce, a company providing family-care support for Okta and many other companies. Julia Cohen Sebastien, CEO and co-founder of Grayce, joined the discussion, speaking to the value of family-care support and its impact on employees.

Trending: Caregiving Benefits

When trying to attract and retain top talent, competitive salary and benefits including medical and retirement options are crucial. But there is a growing segment of benefit options that employees are asking for: caregiving benefits.

With the sandwich generation balancing both childcare and aging parent care, caregiving can feel like a full time job, often leaving people with no choice but to leave their job. Employees need support, and employers need innovative solutions.

Part of Shamborska’s role at Okta is to analyze health care and employee well-being trends, and she quickly picked up on the trending topic of caregiving. “The landscape, especially in the U.S., is highly evolving,” she said. “By 2030, about one in five people in the US will be older than 65.”

That’s significant in terms of impact on healthcare, and companies need to consider those aging needs when updating medical plans. But companies should also think about this: their employees will likely be caring for aging loved ones. The truth is, it’s already trending.

“Caregiving support was a top-three ask from my employees,” Shamborska explained, sourcing surveys, focus groups, and employee resource groups. Third only to 401k matching and employee recognition. From her own research and employee feedback, it was obvious that Okta needed to offer family-care support to its 6,000 global employees. But how and what exactly?

That’s where Grayce came in. Founded right before Covid hit, its expert consultants are dedicated to helping people navigate their unique caregiving situations. Consultants have master’s level training in social work or similar fields, and they’ve worked a number of years with relevant populations, many of them around the globe. Grayce offers a combination of services in terms of care planning, concierge support, technology solutions, community connection, tools, and trackers.

“Among all of Grayce’s new clients, about a third of the care scenarios we’re supporting are people caring for other types of adults or loved ones,” Cohen Sebastien said. Some of the highest claimants are cancer, kidney disease, cardiovascular, complex mental health, and more. Each one of those requires caregiving, but people aren’t sure of their options.

Journalist Kelly Bourdet, bottom right, moderated the discussion among Cohen Sebastien and Shamborska (photo by From Day One)

Shamborska found herself in that situation when her mom was diagnosed. “The consultant at Grayce has been just an absolute lifesaver. It was a complicated, international case,” she explained. “I felt absolutely confident with the information that was provided. They were able to find a place for my mother and hospice care. It was a very hard journey, so having that support was immeasurable.”

Impact on Employees

Caregiving can be a lonely venture, and it can cause a lot of stress. As Cohen Sebastien explained, caregivers have an 8-10% higher medical cost than non-caregivers, and many caregivers end up in poor health as a result of burnout.

What do you do if you think your mother might have dementia? Or your sibling needs surgery and requires your help during recovery, but you don’t know how long that will last or what you’ll need to do for them? This has a direct impact on the caregiver’s emotions and their work life. The idea behind offering family-support benefits is to provide the best possible information and resources so that not only the loved one is cared for, but also the employee.

Even though Shamborska went through a tough situation with her mom, because of Grayce the transition was much smoother. Besides some travel time, she didn’t have to devote much time figuring out the next steps and all the intricacies of caregiving overseas. That gave her peace of mind in a time of hardship.

“A huge aspect of Grayce’s value is support for the caregiver themselves,” Shamborska added. “I was eternally grateful for Grayce and their team supporting me. But I’m hearing the same story from the people that we support. And I’m very proud that at Okta, we send a very strong signal that we support our employees as they care for their loved ones. Again, we want to make sure that they’re productive, they’re present, that they’re effective. But we do also care, we want to ensure that they feel good, and we have the tools and resources we are able to offer to them.”

This personal touch has had an impact. Grayce did a study with all of the eligibility data that was available for 10,000+ employees they cover. What they saw was that of those that had access to and used the Grayce program, they had 38% lower attrition than all of those who had access to Grayce who did not use the solution. That’s good news for employers who want to keep top talent, but it’s also good news for employees—who, with family-support benefits, feel supported, less stressed, and stay in their careers.

“We’ve seen 98% reporting gains in productivity, typically of a week or more,” Cohen Sebastien said. “And we’ve also seen that about half 49% have said that it’s reduced their need to take leave.” Now that’s a much better trend.

Editor’s note: From Day One thanks our partner, Grayce, for sponsoring this webinar. 

Carrie Snider is a Phoenix, Ariz.-based journalist and marketing copywriter. 


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