How can employers embrace the sandwich generation? Caring for the carers


Research from AXA PPP healthcare [1] shows that many businesses have not yet sufficiently adjusted to the changing nature of the workforce. Employers need to ensure that their policies, procedures and communications are geared up to meet the needs of the growing number of older workers, and in particular, that they support the sandwich generation who are caring for loved ones while working.

Ill health and caring for family members put pressure on the sandwich generation’s ability to stay in work.[2] Despite this, AXA PPP healthcare research reveals that, while employees feel supported by their employers in meeting their work responsibilities, they feel far less so in maintaining their wellbeing and with their caring responsibilities for their loved ones.

The pressures on carers

The number of carers is set to increase
Carers UK estimates there will be 9 million carers by 2037.[3] Rising life expectancies and people having children and retiring later means there could be pressures on the sandwich generation with both dependent children or grandchildren and dependent older relatives. AXA PPP healthcare’s research also shows that the nature of care giving changes as employees age, with those over 45 more likely to be responsible for caring for parents and/or grandchildren.

Workplace policies are geared more towards childcare than eldercare
AXA PPP healthcare’s research reveals that some businesses are not keeping up with the growing numbers of employees with caring responsibilities. Of the managers who said their organisation has formal policies and practices in place to support employees with caring responsibilities, just over half (55 per cent) said these exist for employees who are regularly responsible for the care of their parents but 76 per cent said these exist for employees who care for children.

Care giving can affect employees’ working lives and their health and wellbeing
There’s also a risk it can affect employers through rising levels of absence and falling levels of productivity. It is a common reason for an early exit from the labour market with, in some cases, untoward impact on employees’ livelihood, their employer and the economy.[4]  According to a survey by Carers UK, nearly half of carers have given up work to care for a loved one and 23 per cent have reduced their working hours. Of those who gave up work, retired early or reduced their working hours, 69% said the stress of juggling work and care was a contributing factor to their making this decision.

The full white paper titled ‘Supporting fuller working lives: How organisations can embrace older employees and those with caring responsibilities’ sets out several recommendations about how employers can support employees as well as top tips for line managers.

View the full white paper

[1] AXA PPP healthcare research (2015), research  into the perceptions and experiences of 1,000. Embracing the multi-generation workplace – How employers can make the most of an age-diverse workforce.
[2] Carers UK and Employers for Carers (November 2012). Sandwich Caring: Combining childcare with caring for older or disabled relatives, p3.
[3] Carers UK (October 2015). Facts about carers, p1.
[4] Department for Work & Pensions (June 2014). Fuller Working Lives – Background Evidence.