The answer to “Sandwich Generation” retention

How do you retain your valuable employees who find themselves in the “Sandwich Generation” – a generation of people who care for their aging parents while supporting their own children?

Imagine an employee who leaves work 30 mins early to pick up mom’s prescription, then fights traffic for another 45 minutes to get to the daycare on time and avoid the exorbitant late fee. Once they are home, they whirl around the kitchen, trying to whip together a healthy meal for their family while struggling with the guilt from missed time at the office. I’m sure this is all too familiar for most of you.  After all, the Pew Research Center, reported just over one of every eight Americans aged 40 to 60 is both raising a child and caring for a parent, in addition to between seven and ten million adults caring for their aging parents from a long distance. 

These individuals are at war with themselves – struggling with demands from so many with so few hours in the day.  They know the importance of putting family first, but they also know what is expected of them at the office. For the ones I know, their professional life is a safe haven. It is the place where they can give 100% and reap tremendous rewards with often quantifiable measures of success.  It feeds their sense of accomplishment, pays their bills and hopefully allows them to financially prepare for their own “golden years”.  That is unless it is totally derailed by the competing factors previously mentioned.  Do you doubt for a minute that it happens?  You know it does.  The question isn’t IF it happens, but rather how frequently.  I see it every day amongst my clients.

A year ago, I received a call from Theresa, a local customer. Theresa was frantic, “My Mom was hospitalized in Chicago and all she will tell is that she is fine and I shouldn’t fly up there!  I have several meetings scheduled throughout the remainder of this week, but how can I possibly concentrate when I’m worried sick about my Mom?” she said.  I calmly explained that we had great staff in Chicago who can visit her Mom first thing in the morning.  Kathy, a concierge team member, was the first visitor to arrive at the hospital the next morning.  She presented a stack of magazines and crossword puzzles along with a beautiful bouquet of flowers as she explained to the elderly patient that her loving daughter, clear across the US, was worried sick about her.  She sat up in her hospital bed a look of surprise on her face. This expression quickly turned to one of pride as she realized that her daughter cared enough to send someone to check on her.  After chatting for a bit, Kathy suggested that they “Face Time” the daughter to which the mother agreed without fully understanding what she committed to.  Theresa answered the call, breathless and worried.   The mother apologized for her appearance once she realized that Theresa could see her. Theresa laughed.  With a sigh of relief, she felt the weight of world being lifted off her shoulders. If her mother was worried about the way she looked, it couldn’t possibly be that bad, whatever the problem. Later Theresa admitted to Kathy that she had given back her peace of mind. Will it happen again?  Let’s hope not, but if it does, she knows with confidence, that – with our help – she can handle it.

Peace of mind + few extra hours of “free time” added to their busy week = An employee for life!  We invest so many resources to recruit, hire and train top talent and we simply can’t afford for them leave.  Isn’t it worth the investment to send the message, “We understand your struggles and we want to partner with you to address these challenges”?  Whether the solution is a flexible work schedule, tele-commuting, or concierge/errand running services like TimeSquared, the rewards of reduced turnover and increased engagement are tremendous!