Generation snowflake? Think again: 35% of ‘sandwich carers’ are millennials

They’re the generation who’ve earned themselves a reputation for being entitled, lazy snowflakes. Too politically correct, with helicopter parents and teachers that gave them trophies just for participating. They don’t stay in jobs for more than two years and expect a promotion every six months.

But I’m challenging their bad rep. Our latest study* revealed that 35% of ‘sandwich carers’ – those with caring responsibilities for children and older relatives – are millennials. This will serve as a startling revelation for many who often consider the ‘sandwich generation’ to be much older employees in their 40s or 50s.

And it’s the millennials who are struggling to juggle their jobs with these caring responsibilities. 60% said their physical health has been affected, and 50% revealed it’s impacted on their mental health.

For employers who think millennials are not resilient enough, this research shows that there could be more to the situation than meets the eye. Our research also highlighted that 46% of millennial ‘sandwich carers’ haven’t told their boss about their caring responsibilities. Employers can tackle this by striving to create an open culture, where employees feel comfortable to raise personal issues. Often this can start by senior managers sharing their own personal struggles and initiating that conversation.

It’s not just caring responsibilities that are hidden issues for this generation. Millennials are often cited as being lazy and entitled, but almost half (43%) have a ‘side-hustle’ (additional job) to bring in extra money[1]. They’re also acutely aware of the changing demands of the workplace – with 84% considering joining the gig economy[2]. While they might value a good work-life balance, they’re also committed to getting further in their careers – with 42% stating that learning and development is the most important benefit when choosing a job[3].

On top of this, societal issues mean that millennials are working in an age of advancing technologies, political uncertainty, and in a time where owning their own house is a luxury rather than expected. If home ownership follows the same growth pattern of the 2000s, up to half of millennials could be renting in their 40s, and a third could still be renting by retirement age[4].

It seems to me, millennials are getting a bad rep when they’re facing a vastly different set of challenges to previous generations.

For employers, solutions could be as simple as letting their employees work more flexibly – something that 44% of millennials want[5]. Our research also showed that flexible working was valued by millennial ‘sandwich carers’, presumably because it allows them to fit work around their demanding responsibilities.

On top of adopting a more modern approach to the workplace, employers should consider benefits that support all of their employees’ (not just millennials’) physical and mental wellbeing. It’s important that the support goes beyond the workplace and can be accessed when they need it most – which is often outside of their working hours.

Rather than pigeon-holing this generation, employers should be encouraging these employees to have open conversations, challenge the status quo, while also providing them with meaningful support that they can tap into as and when they need it.

 

 

 

*Survey of 1,000 employees who work at least 16 hours per week, carried out by OnePoll on behalf of BHSF, July 2019.

 

[1] Udemy research – Measuring Millennials Report, 2018

[2] Deliotte research – Millennial Survey, 2019

[3] Udemy research – Measuring Millennials Report, 2018

[4] Resolution Foundation – Home Improvements Report, 2018

[5] Udemy research – Measuring Millennials Report, 2018 

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