Survey highlights strains on sandwich generation

A new survey shows the extent of stress having to care for both children and other relatives is placing on the UK’s workforce.

women sleeping on laptop


Over a third [35%] of sandwich generation workers say juggling caregiving responsibilities and work has impacted their mental health, while 29% say it has impacted their financial health and 25% feel an impact to their physical health, according to a new Opinium poll.

The poll, commissioned by employee benefits provider Unum, estimates that more than six million people in the UK workforce are juggling dual caring responsibilities for children and elderly relatives, with 20% saying they are less productive at work as a result and 13% saying they have left an unsupportive employer.

Almost a quarter (24%) have needed time off work to manage their caring responsibilities, with a further 16% saying it pushed them into taking time off sick. Unum says this means two in five sandwich generation workers have been forced to take time away from their jobs to cope with the realities of their dual caring responsibilities.

Although the majority of sandwich generation workers say their employer understands their needs, 31% said their employer has a poor understanding of their responsibilities.

Despite 38% saying their employer offered flexible hours; fewer than a third of employees received help from their employer in the form of remote working, emergency leave to care for ill dependents or an employee assistance programme (EAP).

One in five said their employer did not offer support to help balance their work and home responsibilities. In addition to flexible work arrangements, employees wanted to see their employers:

  • Create a specific support programme, including signposting to external care (35%)
  • Improve/provide resources for life and wellbeing support (31%)
  • Provide onsite childcare resources or financial support for childcare (31%)
  • Improve/give access to mental health assistance (26%)

Mark Till, CEO at Unum UK, said: “It’s clear from our data that there is work for employers to do to support the huge number of UK workers with dual caring responsibilities. A comprehensive benefits package can provide a wide array of support services for employees having to manage caregiving responsibilities and work — especially around mental, financial and physical health concerns that sandwich generation workers raise as a particular issue. The bottom line is employers must consider how to be understanding whilst providing effective support services to avoid losing staff who feel under-supported.”

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