Understanding the Sandwich Generation: 3 Care Challenges Your Employees Face Daily

As caregivers to their parents and children, the Sandwich Generation faces unique challenges. Support them at work by offering companion care benefits.

As economic shifts and COVID-19 pushed both younger and older workers out of jobs, the Sandwich Generation emerged as a significant workforce segment. These employees care for their parents and children simultaneously, requiring special benefits to balance all their responsibilities.

Caregiver activities range from making medical decisions and financial planning to tending to mental and emotional needs. As a result, these adults may also struggle with their physical health, well-being, finances, and performance.

Ultimately, your company depends on the health of its employees. Regardless of the upfront costs, providing caregiver benefits to your Sandwich Generation employees will improve long-term employee retention and productivity.

Understanding the Sandwich Generation

Members of this Generation are typically sandwiched between older parents and younger children. These employees tend to be middle-aged and mid-career, hustling through many directions at a time.

These are often members of your management team or well-established employees, although the issue could also impact new hires. Roughly 54% of Americans in their 40s are raising a child or helping an adult child financially while also caring for a living parent aged 65 or older. Many adults in their 30s and 50s also care for their parents and children simultaneously.

Caregivers face a variety of financial and social concerns while providing assistance, which can limit their ability to work and lead to financial sacrifices. They help loved ones through illness, financial hardship, or even just daily care. So, when faced with increased pressures at home and in the workplace, these employees risk experiencing burnout more quickly than others.

Some will leave positions searching for jobs that provide a better support network or leave the workforce altogether.

Understanding the Sandwich Generation
Source: Shutterstock

Understanding the Working Landscape

The responsibilities and stress faced by those in the Sandwich Generation also impact your business. So, it’s important to understand how these employees fit into the workforce.

In previous decades, stay-at-home parents or grandparents carried out family caregiving responsibilities. But the workforce and economy continue to change, and more family members must work to support the family. Today, more than half of all caregivers are employed full-time, and 22% of all employees are caregivers.

More families are moving senior parents into their homes rather than nursing homes due to fears following COVID-19. In addition, young adults struggle to establish themselves in lucrative jobs, increasing the strain on the Sandwich Generation.

While these employees feel strongly attached to their careers, caregiving can negatively impact their work life. About 70% report difficulty with their dual role, and 69% have had to adjust their schedule or take unpaid leave to attend to caregiving responsibilities.

They’re substantially more likely to leave their roles, turn down promotions, arrive late or leave early, reduce hours, and struggle with performance and attendance. Caregivers living with a family member that experiences high medical needs are even more likely to struggle with these aspects of work.

Juggling Care Responsibilities and Challenges Employees Face Daily

Full-time employees who are also caregivers face a number of challenges every day. Three stand out among the most significant:

  1. Time: Most companies don’t offer flexible time accommodations, virtual options, or adequate family leave. Without these, employees with caregiving responsibilities work fewer hours and miss an average of 6.6 workdays annually.
  2. Money: Missed workdays can lead to lost wages, which stretches the financial hardship of caregiving expenses. Moreover, caregivers often experience higher healthcare costs, ultimately costing companies more.
  3. Burnout: Many current company policies lead to decreased productivity, loss of morale, increased stress, and countless other challenges that affect mental health and well-being.

In addition, employees are unlikely to let their supervisors know if they struggle with caregiver responsibilities. In fact, fewer than half of caregivers will inform their supervisor of their responsibilities at home. Members of the Sandwich Generation also report employers who lack an understanding of caregivers and don’t offer adequate accommodations.

Regardless of whether you’re aware, these issues will impact your employees and your company’s overall productivity.

Challenges Employees Face Daily
Source: Shutterstock

Proactive Solutions Companies Can Offer

Caregiver support and referral services improve retention, productivity, morale, and overall health. Because you often don’t know when employees are struggling, adapting policies and a support network for your team before problems arise is critical.

Companies implementing these policy structures support Sandwich Generation caregivers alongside all employees. Programs may include an Employee Assistance Plan (EAP), flextime, hybrid office hours, family leave, and caregiver support programs.

An EAP helps more than your Sandwich Generation workers; these plans can support all employees during unexpected hardships. Flexible work opportunities like flexible hours, family leave, or a remote/hybrid office structure prevent financial struggles and give employees time to juggle their caregiving and work needs. In addition, consider revising attendance policies to avoid penalizing caregivers who may need extra time to care for loved ones at various times of the day.

Caregiver support is an unexpected but equally important benefit you can offer employees. Yes, they need time and money, but you can also enroll them in programs that help them find eldercare, childcare, and pet care. Caregiver support programs can include hotlines that offer support from healthcare, financial, or even mental health professionals 24/7.

With firm support in place, Sandwich Generation caregivers are less likely to leave.

Give the Sandwich Generation the Care It Deserves

Family care benefits help all employees through every stage of their lives. Supporting your workers strengthens your team and your company. It also helps your employees feel more valued, supported, and productive.

Employee benefits packages should support their mental, educational, physical, and financial needs. All your Sandwich Generation employees—but especially remote caregiving employees—can benefit from companion care or childcare support.

Call Emmy and its Emmy Care Benefits Program ensure your employees have access to quality childcare and other support when they need it. Contact Call Emmy today to learn more about its corporate employer partner benefits packages.

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