Supporting the Sandwich Generation

Fresh Insight

by Maisha Gray-Diggs

We are seeing a rise in multigenerational living and in the growth of the sandwich generation: middle-aged adults who are both raising children and supporting aging parents.

According to data released in 2022 by the Pew Research Center, “Americans in their 40s are the most likely to be sandwiched between their children and an aging parent. More than half in this age group (54%) have a living parent age 65 or older and are either raising a child younger than 18 or have an adult child they helped financially in the past year.” The National Alliance for Caregiving reports that this group is about 11 million strong, with caregivers most likely being female. I am part of this generation.

I take pride in how fortunate I am to have my 74-year-old mom live with me and my twins. Being with us since their birth, she has been the twins’ caregiver, doing school drop-off and pickup and overseeing much of the afternoon extracurricular activities. My mom is the reason that, as a single mother with young children, I have been able to take risks in my career. She always says it’s her mission to make sure I am more successful in my career than she was in hers.

However, in January 2023, she fell sick and was hospitalized for several weeks. I was at her bedside for over 12 hours every day. In one moment, I went from having a full-time caregiver for my children to being the caregiver for both my kids and my mom. Not only did I have to contend with the concern I held for her, but I was now in the driver’s seat, responsible for navigating terrain I had not traveled before and for which I had no map to guide me. Fortunately, the company I work for, Eventbrite, has benefits designed to aid employees in moments just like this.

I activated Grayce, a tech company that provides resources and support for employees caring for a loved one. My caseworker walked me through all the benefits we were eligible for, which included free transportation, grant money to cover certain expenses, and more. I also set up childcare through Urban Sitter. Almost six months later, I am still working to figure it out, but these resources supplied guidance and support, helping me create a plan when I otherwise wouldn’t have known where to start. I am fortunate to work for a company that provides benefits like these.

To attract and retain talent, companies should think about non-compensation benefits that are attractive to marginalized employees. Solve for them, and you have solved for everyone.

While I have learned to ask for help­— ask and you shall receive—and have taken advantage of the company’s benefits, which I’m grateful for, there is more work to be done. Benefits and perks are no longer one-size-fits-all.

Meeting the needs of employees, at all stages of their lives, will increase loyalty and drive results. Let’s do the work to ensure all generations and all lifestyles feel included and valued by their employers. DW

Maisha Gray-Diggs (Dr. MGD) is the vice president of global talent, inclusion, and experience at Eventbrite.

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