The Sandwich Generation in the Office: Can the Cloud Make it Work?

by Marcy Hoffman on December 7, 2011

Have children and/or aging parents? Working full time?

You are not alone. In the U.S., about one in five full-time employees is a caregiver for an older relative, and nearly three-quarters of these employees also have children under the age of 18.

The impact on the caregivers and their families is well documented. The impact on the business is staggering:

  • The estimated cost to employers for full-time employees with intense care-giving responsibilities is $17.1 billion.
  • The average cost per employee with intense care-giving responsibilities is $2,441.
  • The total estimated cost to employers for all full-time, employed caregivers is $33.6 billion.
  • The average cost per employee for all full-time, employed caregivers is $2,110

Here are some clear facts about the impact of working caregivers on business:

  • 87% of employed caregivers made telephone calls for care-giving responsibilities from work
  • 64% arrived late or left early
  • 70% took time off
  • 20% reduced their hours
  • 16% quit their jobs
  • 13% retired early
  • 56% developed health or stress problems that affected work productivity
  • An estimated 46%-59% of caregivers are clinically depressed³
  • 41% took time at work to discuss caregiving issues with colleagues²

 However, there are companies who acknowledge and address these concerns and actually realize a growth in profits.

Standard & Poors firms that emphasized quality of work-life for employees had higher sales growth and return on asset growth over a five year period.

  • Companies recognized as the “best places to work” (by Fortune, Great Places to Work, Working Mother, and other raters) have better financial results than their counterparts in the broad market indexes such as the S&P 100 and S&P 500.
  • Work-life support enhances shareholder return in Fortune 500 companies. A study of firms announcing work-life enhancements found share price jumped .36 percent on the day of the announcement and .39 percent over the next three days.

So how does an employer create a workplace that mitigates the impact that the familial challenges are having on the workplace while maintaining control? The WSJ displays a timeline of the computer since the early ages but it is the future of Cloud computing that will address the employer’s conundrum.

The greatest challenge that caregiver’s have at work is the unknown and the unscheduled; a babysitter/attendant who doesn’t show up, sick children/parents who need to stay home, doctors appointments that require the employee to leave early- the challenges are endless. Establishing a cloud-based work environment can go a long way to addressing these issues.

A Cloud-based intranet, with the necessary cloud apps, allows the employees to work from home and collaborate with their coworkers. Since staying home with a sick child can be distracting, the employee can work at all hours to fulfill their responsibilities. A cloud-based address book, knowledge base, and tasks systems allows employees to access what they need, when they need it, and share it with whom they need. And with web-based conference calling systems, a worker sitting at home or on the road can participate with critical client calls.

Retaining quality and experienced employees is critical and replacing and retraining costs are significant. The challenge for management is to find the balance between the needs of the employee and the needs of the business. The cloud isn’t a panacea and technology won’t guarantee profitability, but it will provide employees the freedom to be productive while meeting their familial relationships and give their employers the tools to manage a modern workplace.

There are no simple solutions to this growing challenge that employers will continue to face. As the WSJ’s timeline demonstrates, technology is rapidly advancing and the companies that embrace advances such as the Cloud, to address these challenges, will be among the “best places to work”…..and the most profitable.


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