Hi! My name is Ellen. While I don’t work for your organization, I personify the characteristics of a select group of employees at your company. You see, I am a member of the Sandwich Generation, which means I am part of a group of workers who are juggling our personal goals with the responsibilities of caring for both our children and aging parents. Our generation has diverse and often complicated needs, which poses unique challenges for companies.  

Are Your Employees “Sandwiched?”

Hi! My name is Ellen. While I don’t work for your organization, I personify the characteristics of a select group of employees at your company. You see, I am a member of the Sandwich Generation, which means I am part of a group of workers who are juggling our personal goals with the responsibilities of caring for both our children and aging parents. Our generation has diverse and often complicated needs, which poses unique challenges for companies.

Sandwich Generation GraphicLike many people in the Sandwich Generation, I am in my 40s – although our group also includes those in their 50s – and I care for my 77-year-old mom and my two teenaged children. As a caregiver, my life sometimes gets complicated as I deal with the emotional, financial, professional and personal stress of these responsibilities. Consider these statistics about the Sandwich Generation:

  • 7 in 10 adults are employed while they are caring for their aging parents.[i]
  • 4 in 10 adults provide emotional support to both an aging parent and a grown child.[ii]
  • 1 in 7 people financially support both an aging parent and a child.[iii]

Like people in my situation, I want to continue working during this caregiving period of my life. To help make this whole situation easier for you, the employer, I’ve brainstormed suggestions on how you can support caregivers just like me.

Offer me your support

My manager can greatly impact my ability to successfully juggle my professional and caregiving responsibilities. Therefore, I ask you to support me with empathy and offer me any company resources that are available. Please refrain from making assumptions or trying to solve my problems for me. Instead, allow me to share my ideas for addressing the situation and help me implement these solutions.

Give me flexibility

Caring for children and aging parents requires me to have the flexibility to quickly and reliably respond to their needs. Consider allowing me to take advantage of flexible working options like a modified schedule, compressed work week, telecommuting, short-term leave of absence and job sharing. If the company doesn’t have formal workplace flexibility policies, be willing to explore creative options and/or encourage the development of applicable policies.

Provide me a quality employee assistance program

Sandwich Generation Financial GraphicWhile I can handle much of my caregiving situation on my own, an employee assistance program (EAP) will lighten my load by providing accurate and reliable resources. Specific EAP topics relevant to me include elder care, financial guidance, relationship help and stress management. Also, EAP education on Sandwich Generation issues will help my co-workers and managers better understand and empathize with my situation.

What those of us in the Sandwich Generation really need is your understanding, empathy and dedication to working with us. Consider this advice from Lisa Bull, director of training and development at Ceridian:

“The alarming growth rate of the Sandwich Generation has made this an issue employers can no longer ignore. Organizations must take the next step and develop HR policies that directly address these caregiving workers’ unique needs. Those who are leaders in HR will offer employees an integrated EAP and wellness solution that addresses their professional and personal needs,” said Bull.

The bottom line? Show us the care and compassion that you’d show to a friend. If you stick with us during this period, we’ll likely stick with you.

For more information:

  • Learn more about the Sandwich Generation in a Ceridian webinar hosted by SHRM
  • View our Sandwich Generation Infographic
  • Learn more about LifeWorks

[i] Workforce.com

[ii] 2013 Pew Research

[iii] 2013 Pew Research