The pandemic has affected everyone in some way, but the so-called “sandwich generation”- those between the ages of 30-60, seem to be feeling the effects even more. This generation is tasked with the difficult burden of supporting both the younger generations (their children) and the older generations (their parents).
Why They’re Feeling the Effects
The “sandwich generation” has been impacted more than most because they are in their prime working years. Those in their 30s, 40s, and 50s make up a majority of the current workforce, so the financial burdens of a household or family often fall on them.
A study showed that 47% of those between the ages of 40-60 are financially supporting either a parent or a child. Of that 47%, 15% are supporting both a parent and at least one child, while 38% say they have at least one parent or child coming to them for help emotionally as well as financially.
Now with COVID, more parents are electing to homeschool or do virtual learning to minimize exposure of the virus because of the close proximity of the many grandparents living with or near their adult children. This can exacerbate the stress parents are feeling with the every changing virtual learning and the demands to care for their elderly parents.
What Employers Can Do
If employers want to relieve some of the burden off of their employees that fall within the “sandwich generation”, they need to make clear that they can make use of the flexibility offered by the organization. Flexible options include things such as working remotely or changing or cutting back on their hours. Some may even need to take a leave of absence to care for their loved ones for a brief time.
Employees need to know that their supervisors and the higher-ups at the company will support the difficult decisions that they need to make regarding flexibility. They need to feel secure that they still have a job to return to if they take advantage of these options.
The Impact on Women
Women in the “sandwich generation” are particularly at risk of feeling the effects of COVID because they are often looked at as the caretakers of the family. This may mean they are faced with choosing between their job and their family to keep them healthy.
The “sandwich generation” will continue to feel the impact of COVID for years to come. Employers need to be supportive of them during this time, and long afterward.