The Olson Group helps employers support employees in the sandwich generation. While there is a great deal of talk about how Millennials are changing benefits and how to help the Boomers successfully retire and sunset their workforce contributions, it’s the sandwich generation that often gets overlooked.
The sandwich generation is a category of employees that are being pulled into two completely different directions. Wedged between parenting their children and taking care of their aging parents, the sandwich generation has a lot of concerns and needs when it comes to workplace benefits. Finding a plan to meet their needs, as well as the needs of your other employees, can feel overwhelming and challenging.
Companies are often looking for plans that will benefit sandwich employees and help keep this relatively young generation contributing to the workforce for some time to come.
Who is the Sandwich Generation?
According to research conducted by the Pew Research Center, “14% of adults in their 40s and 50s have already cared for an aging parent or other elderly family member, and nearly seven-in-ten say that it is ‘very’ (48%) or ‘somewhat’ (20%) likely they will have to do this in the future.” Caring for an elderly parent can be a strain on medical benefits, rigid work hours and can make commuting issues worse. Employers should keep these concerns top of mind if they want to keep this generation engaged and retained.
The sandwich generation juggles the needs of their aging parents as well as the needs of their children. In the past year, 48% of adults ages 40 to 59 have provided some financial support to at least one grown child with 27% providing the primary support. This is an increase in the last 10 years. To keep these knowledgeable management-level employees working for your company, consider their worries and concerns when making benefit purchasing decisions.
Have you taken time to consider the worries of the ‘sandwich generation’?
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The sandwich generation has a lot to worry about:
● Caring for their aging family member. This can eat valuable time, resources and finances. This is only heightened if the parent or family member is very ill, which takes an emotional toll.
● Medical issues that may start in middle age. Many employees in the sandwich generation are just starting to experience their own health complications and may lack necessary resources or experience in dealing with them.
● Raising later in life children. Many people are waiting until later in life to have children and could actually have elementary-aged kids during this stressful time in their lives.
● Supporting college age or grown children financially and emotionally. Due to the rising costs of a college education and the post-recession economy, many of your employees may be supporting adult children, financially and emotionally. Last year, even as the job market picked up speed, the fraction of 25 to 34-year-old Americans living with their parents stayed stuck at record highs nearing 15%.
● Management pressures at work. This age is when many are reaching management level positions, with leadership to report to and employees who report to them. This can make your employees feel even more of the “sandwich” piece of the sandwich generation.
● Financial stability as they begin to approach retirement age. As employees get closer to retirement (or what used to be retirement age) they may start worrying they haven’t saved enough. Financial worries can stress out an otherwise focused and productive employee.
“Reconciling a client’s own retirement planning priorities with the pressure they may feel to support their aging parents and/or an adult child is one of the toughest challenges members of the sandwich generation and their advisors face. While the solution is rarely cut-and-dried, the default should be to prioritize “paying yourself first.”– David Port, Life Health Pro
While it is important to consider the responsibilities a sandwich generation employee may have, it is equally important to consider the very needs of the sandwich generation employee themselves.
Check out this article detailing the dos and don’ts of retirement planning.
How can you help them?
There are many things to take into consideration when tasked with the job of finding benefits to help the sandwich generation.
“Benefits communication can create a better working environment for your employees. Whether you decide to offer 2 weeks of vacation or 3 personal days, these fringe benefits can help keep your chronically stressed employees at ease.”-Tim Olson, The Olson Group Benefits team
Look at your benefits coverage from every angle:
● Retirement Packages
● Health Benefits
● Financial Overview
● Workplace Wellness
● Work-Flex Arrangements
● Insurance Packages
● Long-Term Care
Consider the retirement package someone in the sandwich generation might benefit from. Take a look at the varying packages and systems within your realm. Let The Olson Group curate the perfect benefits package for someone in the sandwich generation.