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The sandwich generation: how to help employees struggling to balance responsibilities

By Jack Campbell | |5 minute read
The sandwich generation: how to help employees struggling to balance responsibilities

Mercer has released its 2022 Australian Benefits Review. The report revealed the issue of the ‘sandwich generation’ of workers. This generation is known to face the pressures of caregiving on two sides: children and elderly parents.

The report says that 89 per cent of Australian organisations don’t assist employees in caring for their children. That figure jumps to 92 per cent when it’s disability or aged care.

Chi Tran, head of market insights and data at Mercer Pacific, spoke with HR Leader about the results: “Changing demographics have contributed to an increase in the number of people in the workforce with childcare, elderly care, [and] disability care responsibilities. There is a need now, which may have just been a ‘nice to have’ previously.”


“The effects of the pandemic and the impacts of the rising cost of living are likely contributing to people re-evaluating both their living arrangements as well as work necessities,” said Ms Tran.

The 2022 Australian Benefits Review revealed that 20 per cent of companies are seeing increased turnover of employees who care for loved ones.

Ms Tran said that employers should be evolving with the needs of their employees to combat the issues arising for the sandwich generation.

“Employees are no longer just looking to workplaces for employment and income, but as a source of connection, support and wellbeing. Standard suites of benefits will not cut it”.

“Work has to be redesigned to allow time and energy for family, hobbies, health and learning, and to enable people to blend work into their desired lifestyle. Increasing salaries or enhancing benefits isn’t enough. You have to design for flexibility; ‘flexibility for all’ is the new shape of work.”

Mercer says that flexible-working support and policies are an increasing focus for organisations, with 81 per cent reporting they have a formal strategy in 2022. This report indicated that this figure is increasing each year. Mercer kindly provided HR Leader with a guide they released on how to design your workplace to support flexible working.

Ms Tran said that at this stage, we don’t know if the sandwich generation issue will ease. Workplaces can do their part by accommodating those who are struggling to balance priorities.

“When it comes to those facing the twin pressures of children and elderly parents, we do expect the trend to grow as people delay having children and life expectancy continues to increase.”

Ms Tran added: “My personal opinion is that by bringing more awareness to this critical cohort, we can only hope that employers continue to adapt their policies and benefits to support the evolving demands of their people.”



Turnover in human resources refers to the process of replacing an employee with a new hire. Termination, retirement, death, interagency transfers, and resignations are just a few examples of how organisations and workers may part ways.

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.