Stop the Brain Drain: Why Companies Need to Prioritize Caregiver Benefits | Anita Gardyne


Anita Darden Gardyne, President & CEO of Onēva discusses how offering caregiver benefits can help prevent brain drain and help employees bring their whole selves to work.


anita gardyne oneva

Anita Gardyne

President & CEO Onēva


Ceci Amador [00:06:51] Hi and welcome to the Future of Work podcast by Allwork.Space, I’m Ceci Amador de San Jose, and today I’m looking forward to talking with Anita Darton Gardyne, CEO of Oneva. Today, we’re going to chat about the changing dynamics of work, how this is affecting workers, specifically women and caregivers, and the opportunities that these new dynamics create. Anita, welcome. 

Anita Darden Gardyne [00:07:13] Thank you so much, Ceci, for hosting me today. Nice to be here. 

Ceci Amador [00:07:17] We’re very, very happy to have you. And I want to start by learning a little bit more about your platform, Oneva. How does it work? How did it come about and how are companies using it today? 

Anita Darden Gardyne [00:07:30] How does it work? Well, it works. Companies today, like policy insurance, can sign up and their employees are able to access our platform because it’s a benefit, just like they get medical and dental with the Oneva technology platform. You get access through this to trusted FBI background check caregivers who come to your home Ceci if you’re an employer, files insurance. And they’ll provide you with infant care, elder care, someone to provide care for your child while they’re working with Zoom. What to drive them to school, to bring you an in-home massage or to clean the home so that you can continue to work and be productive, unlike some other applications? Our technology absolutely is designed for enterprise grade security and privacy. And that means we’re concerned about your data not being hacked as well as that of caregivers not being hacked. And we’re mostly excited that for those employee customers through our technology platform, they’re saving about 11 hours per week that it takes to hunt and find care for each one of those caregivers that you may need to have into your home to answer the why question, as a mom with a child and also a mom who needed elder care. I’m one of those people who was in the sandwich generation realizing that in order for me to go to work, I needed to ensure my seven-year-old daughter was able to be taken care of and go to school. And my now almost 70-year-old mom who began to experience health issues, also needed care. So, when I went out and looked at what was available, I simply couldn’t find it and chose to build it myself. Having a background in technology and also having an experienced team within my reach to take this vision and turn it into a reality. 

Ceci Amador [00:09:22] That’s amazing. And I do think that oftentimes the best solutions come from people that firsthand experience the problems and they can relate of a new mom working from home. So, it’s not as easy of people as people think, like. And I mean, I have a four-month-old, so she still doesn’t have a schedule. And I’m very lucky that my parents and my in-laws live really close by. So, whenever I have a really big project to tackle and I’m just like, I’m coming over, just let me know when she’s hungry so I can feed her. But otherwise, just please take care of her. And you already talked about one of the most common problems or challenges that people looking for caregiver’s experience. And it’s it can be an exhausting process, especially if you’re like interviewing and vetting people. Aside from the time-consuming aspect of it, what are some of the other challenges that you experienced and that you find that people today are experiencing? 

Anita Darden Gardyne [00:10:20] Well, what I found as a mom and first let me congratulate you for being a working mom with a four-month-old, you’re experiencing extreme sleep deprivation, 

Anita Darden Gardyne [00:11:02] The most common challenge that I found was just not knowing what I needed to ask. In all candor, here in California, I wasn’t aware that we had a nineteen eighty-seven law that said that anybody who provided in-home care needed to have a living FBI background check. That meant OK, yeah. And it’s free. There’s an eight hundred number that you can access and every caregiver, the hundreds of thousands have gone through this process since nineteen eighty-seven. You simply provide their government issued photo ID number, whether it’s a Utah state I.D., a California state I.D., it can be from anywhere and they’ll be able to tell you that that person has achieved a certain standing and they maintain that background check. So please. 

Ceci Amador [00:11:51] Oh, is that a local law or does that spread nationwide? 

Anita Darden Gardyne [00:11:55] It’s a statewide law. To my larger point that I was coming to is that child care and elder care laws are so fragmented by state. We’ve had some companies ask us to approach certain states, for example, that don’t have a first aid or CPR requirement. We are exporting California’s requirement and our technology is built to California’s requirements so that Ceci you don’t need to know, and you shouldn’t. Have to know that a caregiver to your four-month-old should have a living FBI, California dog, background check, first date CPR and references. So, with our technology platform, should you choose to use this to book a caregiver, you’re going to see the returned results of all those things. And you’re not going to know necessarily that the results that are returned, every caregiver, first day, CPR, that trust line you’re seeing, all the requirements that they need to operate in California, that you just may not know. And it’s built into the technology because we just want you and your child to be safe and have access to trusted care. And from an employer perspective, your employer is going to want to know that workers in your home comply with all the laws and regulations that they should. So, in our case, our technology is actually extending trust into other state because sometimes they don’t have first date or CPR requirements, but we believe those are the right things. Any caregiver to your baby or my baby or my mom should have. 

Ceci Amador [00:13:34] And I agree, and I think that’s definitely qualifications is definitely one of the things that at least in child care I know a lot of people care about. You want to make sure that. Whoever is taking care of your loved ones is not just a capable person, but that they have specific abilities and skills that hopefully won’t be needed, but in case they are needed. But then and going back to the FBI background check, and I think this is something that most people sometimes overlook, but you’re letting people into your homes, into your life. And whether we like it or not, people can tell a lot about our lives just by stepping into our homes. And so, having a background check, I think, would be something that’s utterly necessary. But then it can be tricky. Because, like you said, a very state wide so some states may not ask for. And so, you’re like, where do I get a background check? How much do I pay for it? Is it legal or is it more like? And how do you even approach the subject with potential candidates like, hey, I want a background check? Is that’s something that you can say straight up, do you have to have like a previous interview first or is this something that caregivers should require straight up? Like, would you mind providing a background check? 

Anita Darden Gardyne [00:14:52] Absolutely. And I would I would only modify that language set to say this is my child, my mom, my home, my most precious. I need you to provide me with that background check. The challenge that many parents face today is what is a background check? So many different care platforms or companies might say we offer a background check. And as a consumer, as a parent, you have to know to ask that next set of questions, that background check, for example, if you were to work with a certain care marketplace and you paid for a background check of a person who lived, say, in San Francisco, that might only mean they look at who’s in the top 10 most wanted list in San Francisco. So, if hypothetically, that caregiver you’re thinking about for your child’s number 11, you’re going to be told, hey, that’s the person you paid for. The background check passed. At Oneva, we have a living FBI, California Department of Justice background check. That means if a crime is committed in the future, one of those about eighty-two crimes, elder abuse, child abuse, DUI, that I get notified. So, the only way to have the FBI do your background check is to be regulated by the Department of Social Services. And right now, and he was the only technology platform that is so you can pay for background checks on other platforms. But make sure you ask specifically what is being checked. You’ll find frequently it’s a credit check, Cat. 

Ceci Amador [00:16:24] Yeah, that’s a really, really amazing tip. You’re giving like Life Pro to make sure that you ask what you’re what you’re paying for and you read the fine print. Yes. And I’m assuming with covid and people working remotely, I know for a fact that a lot of. Families struggle with having kids at home dealing with pets or having to take care of the elderly. What are some of the things that you’re seeing? People struggling with the most caregivers like families that act as caregivers. What are they struggling right now with? 

Anita Darden Gardyne [00:16:58] You captured it. Right now, it’s families and particularly moms, dads as well. But many of us have picked up 15 hours a week of extra care for our families in addition to covid. And we are finding that those families really have an extreme amount of demand. The notion of being able to provide, say, oversight for a kindergartner, a second grader over Zoom while performing your job, whatever that job is, is challenging. And let’s face it, you could also be an essential service provider. We’ve got folks at San Mateo Credit Union as customers. They’ve got to be at that branch every day to meet those customer needs. So, imagine you’ve also got families who are forced to be in the workforce, in their old jobs every day, but their children can’t go to school, preschools or even special needs or elder centers. They remain closed, at least here in California. So many families are finding just really disruptive solutions. And in their daily lives, in historically, you know, companies have only offered what’s called backup care. Backup cares if you can’t go to work that day, you know, you call the 800 number. And if you’re lucky, one in three folks will get somebody show up, but you don’t choose at your door. Oneva, as an employee benefit is the very first time you get to choose who comes to the door. And it’s not just so you can go to work. I think the other thing that many of us need to accept from an employer standpoint work is twenty-four seven three sixty-five. It is no longer eight to five. And I need somebody at my door then. Oneva is twenty-four seven three sixty-five and use an eight hundred number because gosh forbid if you need care for that baby because of an emergency project or you need to go to the hospital because of an in-law, make sure that you always have access to that trusted care provider for even in those emergencies. So that’s what my mission is. That’s my passion. 

Ceci Amador [00:19:09] That’s and I can tell it’s definitely your passion. One thing that you mentioned, and I think that I really want to talk about this, is that you said that the pandemic created this kind of like more disrupted it disrupted homes and jobs. And it definitely showed that it’s not doable to have a full-time job while having to tutor kids through meetings or even if you don’t have to tutor them, just taking care of them. And one of the things that this has led to is an extreme exodus of women from the workforce. 

Anita Darden Gardyne [00:19:42] Yes. 

Ceci Amador [00:19:44] How can benefits like caregiving help bring women back to the workforce? Is this something that you believe could definitely make it easier and more accessible for women and caregivers in general to go back to the to work? How can platforms how can companies leverage platforms like Oneva to do this? 

Anita Darden Gardyne [00:20:04] You captured exactly why we built it. I left my career. I was a CFO at a company that’s now called Seagate back in 2000. So, I’m familiar with being the most senior black in the room, the most senior female in the room. But I love my career because my husband’s company was acquired and I stayed home to raise our child, our son, until our second child was born. And so many of us do that. I’m speaking specifically of women. We know that women’s labor force participation rates right now match nineteen eighty-eight. That’s the year I graduated from grad school and is insane. And that’s because so many of us got pushed out of the workforce because we provide care and covid made so many of us leave to provide care to our families. There was simply no place to get it. And Ceci, you’ve captured it incredibly well because, you know, the next step will be if and when those women should choose to try to return to the workforce, the challenges they’ll face, the income disruption they’ll experience, and the impact that will have on their ability to rise to the heights of their career later in life. So, it’s that their responsibility is a tax that impacts and impacts and impacts and impacts. So, by making care available as an employee benefit, it is absolutely our primary intent to see women and men have access to the care so that we can compete. Better for pay better for. Jobs and better to get into those senior leadership roles that sometimes we don’t get into for lots of reasons, but those reasons include I’ve got to go home and provide care for my child because that’s a part of my responsibility as the woman in the family. 

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Ceci Amador [00:21:59] And I definitely think that having access to trusted caregivers or external ones is definitely one way to do it. Another one, I think, and this is something that I believe some companies fail to do while they made the switch to remote work with. Flexible schedules just let people work whenever, whenever they can, especially if they have kids or elderly at home. I know that’s one of the reasons why I’m able to work at the moment. 

Anita Darden Gardyne [00:22:26] Yeah, you’re absolutely right. It has to be designed for more flexibility. This is not an American problem. This is a global problem. We can talk about Japan or Germany, but the impact of care on careers of women and on major societies, particularly because of the aging of the world. And again, we can look at which societies are experiencing that first, Japan, Germany, the US. We have a massive opportunity here to lift all people and all women by helping the clothes, pay equity gap, gender gap, you know, career gaps because of care. 

Ceci Amador [00:23:09] And then I think one another thing to add to that is increase the company’s diversity, equity, equity and inclusion efforts, which is something that I know it’s been getting a lot of press lately and it’s something that companies are starting to pick up on and they can’t continue doing the business as usual, correct? 

Anita Darden Gardyne [00:23:27] Correct. Absolutely. And companies have a great opportunity with Boniva to contribute to the cost of care because care is a right. You and a four-month-old baby, if you were in a different country, you would have a different set of services available to you. Let’s face it, it’s our opportunity in America to use not only our technology, but our policies to let us catch up with some of the rest of the world around a global problem. 

Ceci Amador [00:23:56] That’s true. And I know that. And specifically, this is with child care. I know that there are really strict laws to opening child care. And I know that’s one of the reasons why companies have increasingly steered away from providing their own child care to their employees. So definitely absorbing some of the costs that would provide access to that is one way to overcome that barrier of entry. But beyond those benefits, to kind of like make the workload easier to manage for working parents, for working caregivers, there’s also the wellbeing component of it. So, you mentioned that Geneva provides access to not only babysitters and child care and elderly care, but also MITSUSE. How can access to these types of services also improve the well-being of employees? How can it improve not only their well-being, but overall their work performance? 

Anita Darden Gardyne [00:24:54] Oh my gosh. First, and let me just say, you know, massage therapist for some of us are right next to medical. They’re not doctors, not physicians. But I can tell you, Celine, if you’re listening, when you’re here in my living room or on my debt, I feel better. But let’s face it. And let’s talk about the realities of aging. You know, it helps me. I need massage to help me manage my life. And it is almost medical for me and I mean that sincerely. 

Ceci Amador [00:27:37] One thing that you mention is it’s not just child care. It’s Somersworth, it’s housekeeping, it’s care for pets. And I think one overarching theme here is that companies need to know that the needs of their employees will vary, whether it’s not just about age or gender. It’s about where they are in life. Are they married or do they have kids? Do they have elderly parents? Do they have pets? Do they just expect to have access to certain alternative methods that help them relax and be their best selves at work? And so, I think that access to these services is definitely something that I mean, yeah, it should be part of the future of work. 

Anita Darden Gardyne [00:28:21] I think it’s time Harvard released a study last summer called The Caring Company. And what companies do know is the higher you are in the organization, the more senior you are, the more likely you are to have left the job for care. Sixty one percent of senior managers have left the job for care at a director level. Fifty five percent have left the job. I think it’s forty four percent at a management level. So, companies, if they’re focused on attracting and retaining the best talent and you’re talking about the senior executive tier, that’s the tier that’s leading your strategy, that’s creating the next level for your company and building value for your investors. Corporations have to stop the brain drain that is occurring, particularly with women exiting the business right now. So what an amazing opportunity for our corporations to step in and bring that care available that bring trusted care, make it available and help subsidize it so that every worker can have access to it because we all have a right to care so that we can go out and work and live our best lives and do our best work. But we can only do that if we know there’s a caregiver who’s safe at home so that we can do that. 

Ceci Amador [00:29:46] I agree in the brain drain. I really like that. And you mentioned something that’s really important. It’s talent, attraction and retention. The churn rate is definitely an issue for companies. And I know that some experts predict that there will be a global talent shortage by twenty thirty. So that’s not even that far into the future. And to have people exit their jobs for caregiving at such a senior level, I mean, it’s not only disruptive and terrible for the employee, but for the company having to find someone, trained them, have them incorporate them to the culture, and then making sure that they’re a good fit with the rest of the team that they’ll be overlooking. This is something that it benefits companies as much as it does the employee. And I know that a lot of the talk around benefits and caregiving, it centers around how we will benefit the employee to make it an appealing offer for employers and for them to actually want to offer it. I think that we need to talk about the benefits that it. That it provides business, so only will you have access to a workforce that’s more focused, that feels better, that’s happier, but you don’t have to deal with the surrounding issues around churn rate of talent, like the expenses time wise, resource wise, and how it impacts the overall company culture. And it can even interrupt really big projects. 

Anita Darden Gardyne [00:31:09] Exactly, exactly. And covid, as you pointed out, so many women left the workforce from covid that 20, 30. No, you talked about I bet it just got accelerated. And that dearth of talent is going to be much sooner. 

Ceci Amador [00:31:25] And it’s terrible because there’s already all these different resources that companies can use, and they know that there’s been or at least they feel that there’s been kind of like some. How do I put it? They’ve been kind of preventing it and seeing how they can postpone it and not wanting to embrace it and well, covid definitely brought about a lot of negative things. I think it’s accelerating a trend towards employee-owned benefits, employee owned everything. And I think this will mark a new era of kind of creating an employee centric experience around work, not only the workplace, but the benefits scheduling. 

Anita Darden Gardyne [00:32:08] I love that language, that employee centric from the employer perspective. You captured it. Employers have to woo talent if you are one of those professionals who are going to be sorely saw in the future that you describe and I’m going to guess about half of them are women, right? Just 50 50. You know, you really want to be proactive in thinking about how do you attract and retain that? And again, you pointed it out, the impact of covid and the number of women who have left the workforce is so extreme and so massive. 

Ceci Amador [00:33:49] I think that at the beginning of the pandemic, we all we were all in like just like crisis mode. Let’s just figure out how to move forward. But they kind of like survive. But right now, it’s time to figure out a strategy for talent attraction, talent retention. And I think with covid again. And a lot of companies had to lay off a lot of people just to cut costs and be able to kind of like weather the storm. So, a lot of workers have taken on extra responsibilities. And so, this can lead to burnout and an increased rate than what companies are used to experiencing. So, access to and masseuse, housecleaning, taking care of pets, everything, no matter how small or unnecessary it may seem, it definitely provides a big opportunity for workers to take a deep breath and relax, regroup and refocus. 

Anita Darden Gardyne [00:34:48] Absolutely. And as we think about the new normal, my new normal includes a very small circle, right. I can count the number of people in pods that we have exposure to. Who knew in 2014 when we designed our technology stack, our first iteration, that focusing on repeat close matches would be so essential we had no idea when we put that into place? If you’ve ever used a ride sharing app, for example and you had a great experience and you wish I could get that driver, we’ve got that feature. Our technology just works in a way where you choose the services, you’ll see different caregivers, you’ll see different prices, they’ll have different skills. It’s about customizing it for you and your family and making it so that you can work effectively. So many of us adopted pets during the pandemic. This will add a pet is it’s you know, it’s funny. When we built the platform, there was a team that won it overnight, pet care, before they were concerned about overnight elder care. And one of them lives with her mom. Right. 

Ceci Amador [00:35:58] I know that at millennials, a lot of millennials have chosen a pet over kids, at least for the time being. I know I have a lot of friends that I send pictures of my baby and they’re like, we’re here are my babies and it’s two dogs or Cat.  

Anita Darden Gardyne [00:36:13] So I’m just saying. So, from a corporate perspective, there’s a reason that that pets there that we make that available. And actually, we were providing elder care back in twenty fourteen. And honestly, elders, when they start to go in and out of the hospital, we found ourselves having to provide care for the pet water, the plants, those types of activities, so that that’s how they came onto the platform. But absolutely, when we went out and put many customers on it with the Microsoft pilot, we saw how much other people also of pet care for a whole different set of reasons. So how great it is, again, that a corporation, an employer can help bring work life balance to those fantastic employees, that they are blessed to have helped them execute their visions. So, what a great time for you and your generation to be given access to some level of care so that you can work, because candidly, it wasn’t there for me when I left my job.   

Ceci Amador [00:37:35] And that’s definitely something. And you hit the nail on the head also by mentioning that moving forward, people who want to limit the number of individuals they’re exposed to, at least in the foreseeable future. So that’s definitely a plus for employees that they can access a platform that allows them to be like, I like this person, I’ll stick to them and the need that we’re running out of time here. So, I wanted to thank you for joining us today and ask if there is anything they wanted to add or before we tune out, 

Anita Darden Gardyne I just hope everybody, everybody is excited about having more care, more work life balance and just trying to change the world. I love that we are changing the world into the place. We want it to be more so right now in a whole new way. And that care is a part of the conversation. This is new. I’ve never seen it in my lifetime, and I am excited to stand on a chair and screen care. 

Ceci Amador [00:39:12] Yeah, I agree entirely. I think it’s part of the future of work and we can’t. Ask people to bring their whole selves to work if half of if most of their brain is focused on whatever is happening at home and worrying about what’s happening at home, that’s it. Thank you again for joining us today. And thank you, everyone, for tuning in to the Allwork.Space feature of our podcast. 

Ceci Amador [00:39:37] Have a good one. 

Anita Darden Gardyne [00:39:38] Thank you. You have a great day. 

Anita Darden Gardyne [00:39:39] Bye bye. Thank you. 

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