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Employers can support sandwich generation caregivers by providing extensive well-being benefits, flexibility and leadership training, says Michael Mousseau, national well-being practice leader at Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.

Sandwich generation caregivers are people, typically middle-aged individuals, who find themselves tasked with taking care of their children while also looking after their parents or older family members.

“It seems like a fairly new consideration in the workplace, but multi-generational households aren’t new. I came across a 2013 report from the Pew Research Center that said about 15 per cent of U.S. middle-aged adults were providing financial support to both their aging parents and their children. Fast forward through the pandemic and [an unstable economy] and we’ve seen more multi-generational households form out of necessity. So I think this phenomenon is on the rise and it’s not going anywhere.”

Read: Webinar coverage: How can employers better support working caregivers?

He adds employers should be thinking about how this might impact employees’ well-being from a holistic perspective. “The workplace has many potential stressors already, then you’re adding in this unexpected stressor from the home life. So work-life balance [becomes a major concern] as well as managing burnout. If all of an employee’s energy is being used at home, they won’t have enough for the workplace.”

Employers can work with vendors that offer caregiver resources, including for elder care and childcare assistance benefits, as well as mental-health supports. “Another important consideration in the well-being context is social isolation or a lack of connectedness. These people work all day, then they have to deal with their kids’ and their parents’ needs before their own. It would be easy to feel overwhelmed and alone, so I think there’s definitely going to be isolation issues for these caregivers.”

There are many other things employers can do to provide support, he adds, like implementing flexible work arrangements and proper training for employees and leaders. “Employers can provide education and training for employees who are going through this, as well as leaders to manage these situations. As a leader they should be checking in to see how the employee is doing and what they might need from the company.”

Read: U.S. employers increasing family, caregiver benefits: survey