There has been a lot of talk lately around the ‘Sandwich Generation’ – a growing swathe of people in their 40s or 50s who have dual responsibility for young children and elderly parents.
Research suggests a significant increase in their numbers – put at 2.4 million according to 2018 research and continuing to grow.
Clearly there are some benefits to multi-generational care within the family but it’s certainly not an easy responsibility to juggle. Two dependent generations, with totally different needs, jobs to hold down and increasing mortgage repayments, food costs and tuition fees. This isn’t just any old sandwich, this is a doorstop!
Why the sandwich?
People are having children later and living longer, and as a consequence those in their 40s and 50s find themselves with dependent children as well as elderly parents – according to the Office of National Statistics, more than one quarter of adults aged 20 to 34 are still living at home.
Home lives have shifted but working practices have stayed the same, and the sandwich generation is being bitten hard.
We knew that flexible working would be in great demand from working mothers, but we have been surprised by the number and variety of people looking for increased flexibility in their working lives.
The Sandwich Generation is a surprising reality amongst the candidates we meet. None of us can know when we might suddenly find ourselves caring for an elderly parent or a partner. From admin assistants to CFOs, people are finding themselves leaving jobs out of necessity, not out of choice.
So here’s the question. If employers of these individuals had offered some flexibility, even on a temporary basis, would they have retained the member of staff? And the answer has to be ‘yes’. The Sandwich Generation in my network are skilled and raring to go, they just need a little flexibility.
The thing is, it makes good business sense to offer flexibility, not least because of financial, retention and recruitment benefits, but because loyalty encourages motivation, and motivation leads to greater productivity.
Employers – offer bite-sized help
Being flexible doesn’t necessarily mean halving someone’s hours or giving them a month off. An employee’s needs may be as simple as taking a parent to a doctor’s appointment once a week, doing 30 minutes less each day, or working from home an afternoon per week. Flexibility is not set in stone, it’s far more flexible than that!
For the Sandwich Generation, flexibility can make all the difference, and with the numbers rising year-on-year, businesses that offer flexible solutions rather than accepting the loss of staff will find themselves in a far stronger position.
Get in touch to find out how we can help.
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