Okay, Google has afford paying for employees’ daycare; Facebook’s deep pockets and Mark Zuckerberg’s personal experience has put paternal leave as a company priority. But what those employees that have to look after aging parents and their children? The “Sandwich Generation” refers to the 1 out of 5 employees that care for an aging individual and children. Companies should rethink how they address both parental care and elder care. For the former,  take inspiration from a company that has had child care center for the past 33 years. They may be a household brand now, but decades ago it was a mom-and-pop retailer.

Maybe it’s hippie-roots, but Patagonia is the anti-thesis of what corporate childcare looks likes. Classrooms are held in the great outdoors, their playground comes equipped with obstacles courses, a “secret” garden where parent and child pick vegetables, and multi-lingual teachers.

For care-giving to multiple generations, take a cue from other programs, such as Colorado-based, pharmaceutical company Astellas. Their program includes benefits that support the Sandwich Generation, like offering geriatric medical service coverage and financial counseling for college.

How can you integrate care-giving as a value?

1. Make care-giving a company priority

Caregiving is a business decision. According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) “Sandwich” employees cost their company $2,000 per year in lost productivity. This is no surprise as they juggle looking after children and aging family and friends. Think of how a company’s or managers’s actions can support employees. Could it subside or cover backup or respite costs? Could administrative staff support in researching services that employees would need to do otherwise on their own? Integrate a pipeline to lift a burden off workers’ shoulders; this could be a excellent strategy to retain talent and build loyalty.

2. Define care-giving beyond child care

Care-giving is not a principle only related to caring for children. It’s essential to realize that Companies should consider how their policies support these individuals tend to both children and elders.

3. Integrate care-giving into benefits

 The U.S. lags behind other developed countries in child care support and parental leave; in fact, it is the only advanced economy that does not ensure maternity leave. Employers need to consider the strategic nature of offering family-friendly benefits. Companies, like Coca-Cola, see it as another way to recruit and maintain competitive talent.

Worried over the costs of rolling out a parental leave program?

Managing Director of CBIZ HR Services, Claire Bissot suggests “Start small by providing paid leave for a portion of the total leave available and then allowing unpaid leave thereafter…this can also help build the work habits and cultural shift acceptance for such a program.”

At absence.io, we deliver the world’s best absence management program (okay, we’re a little biased) to companies like MyTheresa and to governments. Less operational work means more time spent on producing brilliant work–and focusing on loved ones.

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