A 2019 Angus Reid study found that nearly 28 per cent of, or 3 in 10 Canadians, in their 40s and 50s currently act as caregivers and 4 in 10 anticipate they will become one in the future. Forty-two per cent of Canadian parents, between the ages 40 and 59, also have children under 15, according to the study.
In today's fast-paced world, the dynamics of the modern workforce are constantly evolving. One emerging trend that demands attention is the rise of the sandwiched generation. This term refers to individuals who find themselves caught between caring for their aging parents and supporting their own children. As this demographic continues to grow, it becomes increasingly crucial for human resource (HR) managers to understand and address the unique challenges faced by the sandwiched generation. By recognizing the importance of this group, HR managers can implement strategies that promote work-life balance, enhance employee well-being, and foster a supportive work environment.
Understanding the Sandwiched Generation:
The sandwiched generation faces a delicate balancing act, as they navigate the responsibilities of both child-rearing and eldercare. They often find themselves torn between attending to the needs of their aging parents—such as medical appointments, managing finances, and assisting with daily tasks—and fulfilling their obligations as parents to their own children. This dual role can place immense physical, emotional, and financial strain on these individuals, impacting their productivity, engagement, and overall well-being.
The Unique Challenges:
The negative effects of stress and burnout on caregivers in the sandwiched generation can be profound, impacting both their personal well-being and professional performance.
Statistics reveal that caregivers who are juggling a career often experience higher levels of stress compared to their non-caregiving counterparts. According to a study by the American Psychological Association, 61% of sandwiched generation caregivers report high levels of stress. This chronic stress can lead to physical and mental health issues, including increased risk of heart disease, depression, anxiety , and sleep disorders.
Moreover, the demands of caregiving can result in burnout, which is characterized by emotional exhaustion, detachment, and a reduced sense of personal accomplishment. Caregivers experiencing burnout may find it challenging to maintain their productivity, engagement, and focus at work. The Family Caregiver Alliance reports that around 40-70% of caregivers experience symptoms of burnout.
The negative impact of stress and burnout extends beyond the individual caregiver. It can lead to increased absenteeism, reduced job satisfaction, and diminished overall performance. Ultimately, this can have detrimental effects on employee morale, teamwork, and organizational productivity.
Importance for HR Managers:
Human resource managers play a pivotal role in creating a supportive work environment that acknowledges and addresses the needs of the sandwiched generation. By recognizing the unique challenges faced by these employees, HR managers can implement policies and practices that support work-life balance and employee well-being, ultimately benefiting both the employees and the organization as a whole.
Firstly, HR managers can introduce flexible work arrangements, such as remote work options or flexible scheduling, which allow sandwiched generation employees to better manage their caregiving responsibilities without compromising their work commitments. This flexibility can alleviate stress and enhance job satisfaction, leading to increased productivity and reduced turnover.
Secondly, HR managers can provide resources and support mechanisms to help employees navigate the complexities of eldercare and childcare. This may include offering access to caregiver support groups, providing information on available community resources, or partnering with external services to offer discounted or subsidized care services such as homesharing for an elderly parent.
Thirdly, HR managers can promote a culture of empathy and understanding within the organization. This involves fostering open communication, training managers to be sensitive to employees' needs, and implementing policies that prevent discrimination or bias against employees juggling caregiving responsibilities.
As the sandwiched generation continues to grow, it is imperative for HR managers to recognize the unique challenges faced by these employees. By implementing strategies that support work-life balance and address the specific needs of this demographic, HR managers can create a more inclusive and supportive work environment. This, in turn, leads to enhanced employee well-being, increased productivity, and improved retention rates. By taking notice of the sandwiched generation and actively supporting their needs, HR managers can contribute to a happier, more resilient, and productive workforce.
Learn how HomeShare Alliance can support your employees in the sandwiched generation. Contact the HomeShare Alliance team for more information and inquire about our exclusive corporate discount for your staff.