Stuck in the middle

Sallie is an energetic, forty-two year old, successful executive.  She is dexterous, loving and highly successful at what she does.  The reality is however that her home is not always the most relaxing environment when it comes to reviving her. Her days can become very stressful, very quick, and at times she wishes she lived someone else’s life.  Between making sure her stay at home, elderly father is properly cared for and being a rock to her recent grad who is struggling to find a decent job, her need for good work-life balance is high. Sallie who is referred to as a “Sandwich Generation Woman” is not alone.  There are many Sallies out there.  Fortunately, Sallie is an optimistic problem-solver. She is grateful for her family and is in constant search of coming up with ways to balance her time to be the best at what she does but also the best at who she is.  Needless to say, it is not an easy job!

It would be impractical to believe that this type of living situation would not be impacting Sallie’s agenda and performance. Like other Sandwich Generation employees, her schedule is overly complex and her usual high energy can very quickly be depleted.   On top of that, her financial goals are likely to be taking a beating at every turn.

Graphic Artist Credit: Emilyann Girdner at Center for Work Life

Due to the growing baby-boomer population, as well the economic challenges of unemployment, Sallie’e life is more of a trend rather than the exception in society.  A 2010 trends report indicates that multi-general households are up from 12% of the American population to 16%.

It is possible that the term “Sandwich Generation” is nothing new to you, because you have been living it. There is a high possibility that even If you aren’t living it yourself, most likely you have an employee, co-worker or member of your extended network that is.

Suffering alone is certainly not the solution. And living a bitter life is not going to be a performance booster by any means. Instead here are a few “condiments” to keep in your toolkit when it counts as an employer of choice.  Believe me when I say, you will be glad you did:


Your recipe for Sandwich success:

Be Changeable cheese – That’s right, changeable cheese! This means, adjusting around your employees needs. Though there is a line where this goes too far, trying your best to accommodate will pay off. Don’t wait until they are overwhelmed with their scenario to consider suggesting a more flexible work schedule, or some at-home workdays. Be preemptive in lightening the load.

Loyal lettuce – It is crucial to give your employee a chance to master their predicament. Don’t throw away a good work relationship when the road gets rough.  The more patience you can muster, the more your employee will feel confident that their work brings them satisfaction rather than extra baggage.  Employees work at their best, when they are valued for who they are not just what they contribute.

Motivational mustard – Part of your job as a boss is to be an encouragement. Get them in touch with the right contacts, assistance, and growth opportunities.  By now, you have defined your performers from your pretenders.  So believe in your employee’s ability to master their difficult role conflicts, and mentor them to success.

Reliable relish– Anyone can talk a good talk. It is important to stick to the commitments you make. Not only does this prevent additional uncertainties or stress for your employee, but it builds trust and momentum.

Private Pepper- Privacy is an important matter to both employee and employer alike.  If your employee shares something in confidence, the last thing you want to do is let them down in their time of need by being loose lipped.  Questions can best be addressed if they are not altered by background noise.

Thoughtful tomato – A small act of kindness goes a long way. From a 5 minute conversation to allow the person to feel heard, to possibly sending home a gift card for a nice family meal, to a paid gym day, the sky is the limit when it comes to the power of camaraderie.