Providing Peace of Mind: Advance Care Planning as an Employee Benefit



Accidents happen. Yet, most of us don’t plan for it. In fact, 67% of Americans planned one or more trips in 2021,1 compared to less than 30% who made a plan for their healthcare in case of serious illness.

Whether we’re facing our own sudden challenges or helping a loved one navigate care, a health crisis can be all-consuming and financially devastating. When we’re facing an unexpected health crisis—or helping a loved one—our lives are deeply affected, personally, and that naturally spills over into our working life. Advance care planning is more than a clinical tool. It is a good addition to any health incentive program.


Employers know the health and well-being of employees contributes significantly to the quality of their job performance Employers also want to keep expenses manageable to ensure the business is successful and profitable.

Wellness programs designed to promote health and prevent disease have been around for decades. Nearly half of HR professionals surveyed by the Society for Human Resource Management said wellness initiatives in their workplace have decreased their company’s healthcare costs. About 40% said wellness initiatives decreased unplanned absences, and about a third said those initiatives increased work productivity.2

But health challenges go beyond the physical and mental well-being of the individual employees themselves. The stress of holding a job while caring for a loved one can take a toll on a caregiver’s physical and emotional health, which can naturally impact job performance.3 The Family Caregiver Alliance, a nonprofit research and policy organization that supports caregivers, estimates 17% of full-time workers are acting as caregivers for loved ones.

In fact, caregiver absenteeism costs the U.S. economy an estimated $25.2 billion in lost productivity, with 24% of caregivers saying that caring for a loved one directly impacts their performance at work.4

And consider this: 61% of caregivers experience at least one change in their employment due to caregiving, such as reduced work hours, extended leaves of absence or poor job performance evaluations.5

No one wants to be in the difficult position of having to guess what kind of treatment a loved one would want or not want, and everyone wants to feel as though they honored their loved one’s choices. When resources are available to help employees proactively think through how they would navigate the care associated with serious accidents or chronic illnesses—for themselves or a loved one—some of the stressful decision-making related to these situations is eliminated. This is a tremendous benefit to the employees and the employer.


Workplace demographics are constantly shifting. Two newer trends are causing wellness and well-being issues to climb higher on the list of workplace priorities and needs. First, the rate of baby boomers retiring, making room for younger employees, means more workers may fall into that “sandwich generation” demographic. And, COVID and its associated variants have made all ages become more thoughtful about an unplanned health emergency.

Organizations using a broad range of benefits as a strategic tool for recruiting and retaining talent report better overall company performance and above-average effectiveness in recruitment and retention. And peace of mind is an enormous benefit.6

The Society for Human Resource Management’s recent workplace forecast found that 63% of HR professionals said the number of employees with caring responsibilities will have a major impact on the workplace over the next five years.7

Offering the benefit of an advance care directive to help employees think through care needs before confronting a health emergency—for themselves or a loved one—is a proactive way employers can contribute to the well-being of their employees.


Studies show people who think through and plan for their own care in case of health emergency make healthier choices today.

Providence Health provided advance care planning in its 2015-2016 health incentive option. More than 51,000 employees and their relatives chose the incentive option. The experience was rated helpful or very helpful by more than 80% of participants. And, 95% of employees responded that they had someone they trusted who could make medical care decisions for them, but only a quarter had completed an advance directive.8

When goals of care are put in writing using advance care planning as a health benefit, employers save money from less absenteeism and turnover, fewer unwanted ICU visits and shorter hospital stays. Additionally, they see a reduction in unwanted healthcare costs while increasing trust and productivity throughout their organizations. Quite simply, it’s an investment in a benefit for your employees that pays dividends to employers as well.

joanne eason

Joanne Eason, MApresident, Five Wishes. With more than 25 years of communications experience—centered primarily in the health and insurance industries—Joanne provides strategic counsel on how best to implement advance care planning throughout healthcare and business organizations. She has led national crisis communication programs, rebranding programs for several health organizations and counseled executives on effective and difficult communications. Joanne holds a Master of Arts in public relations from Michigan State University and is accredited in public relations.


1. Tripadvisor, 2021 Summer Travel Index, April 20, 2021
2. Society for Human Resource Management, “Workplace Forecast,” May 2013
3. Family Caregiver Alliance: “Caregiver Statistics: Work and Caregiving”
4. Gallup Healthways: “Caregiving Costs U.S. Economy $25.2 Billion in Lost Productivity”
5. Family Caregiver Alliance: “Caregiver Statistics: Work and Caregiving”
6. Society for Human Resources Management, “2018 Employee Benefits Report,” Retrieved June 7, 2019, from
7. Society for Human Resource Management, “Workplace Forecast,” May 2013
8. Population Health Management, Vol. 21, No. 4, An Employer Health Incentive Plan for Advance Care Planning and Goal-Aligned Care, August 1, 2018

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