Have children and/or aging parents? Working full time?

You are not alone. In the U.S., about one in five full-time employees is a caregiver for an older relative, and nearly three-quarters of these employees also have children under the age of 18.

The impact on the caregivers and their families is well documented. The impact on the business is staggering:

  • The estimated cost to employers for full-time employees with intense care-giving responsibilities is $17.1 billion.
  • The average cost per employee with intense care-giving responsibilities is $2,441.
  • The total estimated cost to employers for all full-time, employed caregivers is $33.6 billion.
  • The average cost per employee for all full-time, employed caregivers is $2,110

Here are some clear facts about the impact of working caregivers on business:

  • 87% of employed caregivers made telephone calls for care-giving responsibilities from work
  • 64% arrived late or left early
  • 70% took time off
  • 20% reduced their hours
  • 16% quit their jobs
  • 13% retired early
  • 56% developed health or stress problems that affected work productivity
  • An estimated 46%-59% of caregivers are clinically depressed³
  • 41% took time at work to discuss caregiving issues with colleagues²

 However, there are companies who acknowledge and address these concerns and actually realize a growth in profits.

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An article in USA Today lists these 9 steps that will free up hours in your business day:

  • Making a List
  • Take things off that list
  • Focus and reduce interruptions
  • Have meetings
  • Complete stuff
  • Identify what’s “urgent” and what’s “important.”
  • Delegate
  • Create systems, checklists and templates

And the last item that will save you time:

  • Automate and go to the cloud

These are valid tips but ignore two critical truisms in today’s workplace: our work is collective and tasks need to have follow up and accountability. ‘Making a list’ works for buying groceries, but what you do and when you do it is dependent on the team that is impacted by your work. Making a list is an effective technique only when there is a follow up for each item on the list. ‘Have meeting’ is fine, but you need access to your team’s calendar and a task system that defines the objective and allocates the resources necessary for a productive meeting. ‘Delegate’ is imperative for a successful operation, but how do you coordinate what is being delegated to whom and when?

The simple truth is that to free up hours in your workday, and make those hours more effective, your business needs to adopt #9 and move to the cloud. ‘Making a List’ using integrated cloud apps such as StreetSmart, turns these tips into a transparent, collaborative system. ‘Making a List’ allows you to create a list, ‘Delegate’ tasks to your team, ‘Identify what’s urgent and what’s important’,  ‘Complete Stuff’ by tracking the progress of each team member and ‘Have a Meeting’ by checking your teams’ cloud-based calendar, inviting them and tracking responses.

Using integrated cloud apps eliminates the need to “Create systems, checklists, and templates’ because a good cloud platform has all this built in, ready for you to customize it to meet your company’s needs.

As 2011 comes to a close, pundits like to make predictions for 2012. I will predict that the businesses that survive and prosper will be the ones that adopt the cloud in operations, sales and marketing. Small businesses need every advantage to succeed in today’s climate and the benefits of cloud computing provide you and your team the freedom to work effectively and remotely and reduce your IT costs.

Maybe that’s what Cloud 9 means.