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Friday, September 22, 2006
The Sandwich Generation
There is a generation today that is experiencing something that most other prior generations have never had to deal with. This generation is between the Baby Boomers and the Gen X’ers and generally graduated high school during the eighties or late seventies. The Sandwich Generation currently are in high gear in their careers being in their late thirties and forties. Now is the time when they’ve achieved their advanced degrees, moved into the management offices, and are reaching their stride in the work world.

What is unusual about this generation is they are sandwiched between two other generations for which they have a great deal of responsibility. On one end of the time line, they have parents who are retired and getting to the age where they need special care at varying levels. That demand is made even more stressful because most adult children do not live near their parents. In past generations, our society was not mobile and families stayed in the same geographical areas making it easier to be available to take care of the needs of elder parents. Now people move a great deal and usually do not live close to their elderly parents.

A second factor is that the Baby Boomers had fewer children so whereas in prior generations there may have been five or six siblings to share the care of the parents, now there may only be two or even just one. That puts a greater burden on the Sandwich Generation.

On the other end of the timeline, the Sandwich Generation has children of their own who are still in school, preparing for college, or entering college. That creates a whole new set of problems ranging from financial considerations to emotional turmoil.

What does all this have to do with your career? A great deal if you are a member of the Sandwich Generation. More and more we work with clients who are not able to relocate due to proximity of elderly parents or who have had to take a leave of absence at the peak of their careers in order to care for a dying parent. Many people are seeking high level management positions that will allow them to work from home at least a portion of their week so they can work around doctor’s appointments and hospice care.

The stress endured by the Sandwich Generation shows up in job burn out and job hopping. Often, those of this generation will take a lesser position simply due to the lower stress it affords and “make do” on a lower salary.

Salary brings up the consideration of financial issues. Many Sandwich Generation members are partially supporting not only their college-aged children but also elderly parents. That means they need the highest salary possible for the work they do to meet their financial obligations.

Those of us in the Sandwich Generation are on a treadmill with no retirement of our own in sight.

November 2005 / December 2005 / January 2006 / February 2006 / March 2006 / April 2006 / May 2006 / June 2006 / July 2006 / August 2006 / September 2006 /


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