Senior living employees see to the physical and mental wellness of residents every work day. And some of you continue such efforts at home, where you care for aging parents or other relatives. A new survey finds that, increasingly, employers are trying to see to the physical and mental wellness of their workers.

An expansion of benefits for people with family caregiving duties has been one of the “significant changes” to employer-provided benefits prompted by the pandemic, according to the recently released results of a survey of human resources professionals conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management.

Seventy-eight percent of companies surveyed said they have expanded their benefits packages to include more leave benefits to employers caring for children or adult family members at home, diversified telemedicine options and more accessible mental health resources.

The survey found that 31% of employers are offering paid family leave, the highest prevalence of such leave in the past five years.

“During the pandemic, employers were more compelled than ever to consider the diverse home environments of their employees,” SHRM President and CEO Johnny C. Taylor Jr. said in a statement.

The expanded benefits come as one in six employees in the United States provide care to a relative or friend, according to the SHRM. And — perhaps no surprise to anyone working in long-term care — the number of family caregivers is expected to grow exponentially over the coming decade as people live longer, according to Lisa I. Perez, SHRM-SCP, founder and president of HR consulting company HBL Resources, Miramar, FL.

Perez spoke at the SHRM Annual Conference & Expo 2021, and the association reported on her talk.

Employee challenges with child caregiving are more public and more often acknowledged, Perez said, but “your workforce has ‘unseen’ caregivers taking care of elderly parents,” and studies have shown that such caregivers spend an average of 20 hours per week doing so.

Perez called for employers to “hold employees accountable for doing their jobs, but provide resources and support — the human touch — for caregivers as well.” Doing so, she added, can result in increased productivity and employee engagement, an improved reputation for the employer among prospective workers, and reduced healthcare costs for employers, due to the fact that caregiving stress and anxiety can take a toll on employee health and well-being.