How employers can help “sandwich generation” employees

Sandwich generation. This is not a new byword describing the eating patterns of the youngsters. This term refers to the people who are squeezed in the middle of caring for their ageing parents and parenting children of their own while still performing at work. Life can be specially demanding for this generation as they play all their major roles simultaneously.

As the caregiving demands continue to grow, it is tough to deal with the increasing stress which affects both mentally and physically. With increasing strain, an employee gets low on their work performance. This problem is already affecting many employees resulting in low productivity, increased absenteeism and stress related illness.

Employers can formulate some strategies to ease this distress of sandwich generation. Mainly employees are looking for opportunities that help them perform well at their job while still caring for their personal needs. Employer’s efforts in administering some changes in the work patterns can help employees balance their personal and work life.

Most common and effective change could be flexitime. Allow flexibility in work schedules. Flexitime is the only benefit that goes a long way in juggling tasks. However not all employers can provide a flexibility at work as some operations require a fixed work schedule. May be a paid off can help an employee who is struggling between home and work demands.

Provide an alternative work schedule like early start of the day, reduced workload, compressed work weeks, allow employees to temporarily shift to a part time work schedule or work sharing with other employees. This is practically possible when many people are seeking flexibility.

Employers can provide a backup family care like insurance plan for unexpected needs such as illness or other demands.

Employers can formulate an employee assistance programme which provides coaching and consultation for children and ageing parents.

Elder care referral services provides assistance by offering access to database of information such as housing option, elder day care, home health services for short term or long term assistance. Employers can offer such services to employees as an additional benefit.

Like many other situations where understanding is required, communication is the key. Employees need to communicate well. Hiding your responsibilities from your employers could be a mistake. Talk to your employer or superior about your caregiving needs. On employer’s part, showing understanding and compassion for employee leads to increased employee’s loyalty and engagement in their work.

Even small changes in employee’s work schedule can add up to large improvements in their lives. Talk to your employees to make changes suitable for both the organization and the employee. Seek win-win situation for both.

Smart employers understand that even if the sandwich caregivers try to minimise the effects of their stressed life routine, the organization and their work is disturbed. It would be wise to be prepared to for such phases and should reconcile the changes that meet the employee’s needs while still regarding organizational goals.

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