The challenge of a generation

The challenge of a generation

It isn’t always easy keeping up with today’s demands: more women on the job market, generation overlap, unexpected events in our personal lives and pressure at work. These conflicting priorities are often the root of trouble at home and at work. Balance between work and family is necessary for the sandwich generation.

These 45-64 year-olds often see their family responsibilities increase dramatically with the growth of life expectancy. It goes without saying that managers and employees are also citizens, mothers, fathers, grand-parents, sons and daughters, who sometimes have to take on family responsibilities in addition to their duties at work.

In 2011, this generation represented 42% of the Canadian population.


By definition, family caregivers provide care to a loved one who suffers from a chronic medical condition, is incapacitated or has age-related issues2. Increasingly, the active population (age 15 years or more) is faced with an ever-growing need: caring for a love one. In 2012, 28% of Canadians defined themselves as caregivers.

Professional impact

Being a caregiver involves devoting time and energy to help the dependent. Impacts on a professional level are likely. According to Statistics Canada, 20% of the sandwich generation have had to change their work schedules. Loss of income is often identified as a significant impact. Most family caregivers would like to see better government support to help alleviate the resulting financial strain.

Caregiver status is associated with presenteeism, which is loosely defined as being present at work but inefficient. In other words, these caregivers are on the job but dividing their time between work and their caregiving:

Employees who care for loved ones may be at word, but…

  • 87% make calls
  • 54% are often late
  • 70% take additional vacation time
  • 20% ask for reduced hours
  • 16% eventually quit

Personal impact

More than 25% of all carevigers reported 5 or more symptoms of psychological distress.

Taking care of a sick relative has a direct impact on the health of those providing support. More than one quarter of all caregivers reported having at least five symptoms associated with psychological distress including exhaustion, anxiety, isolation, etc.

It is a known fact that distress is directly related to work absenteeism. It is estimated that some 50% of workers exhibiting signs of depression miss approximately two weeks of work per year, and a quarter of them miss more than 60 days.

When employers fail to accommodate caregivers, even more signs of depression appear.

This reality motivated SSQ Financial Group to design Compassion, an insurance product intended to enable workers to care for a loved one suffering from critical illness or injury without having to sacrifice their income. For SSQ it was essential for employees to be able to adapt their periods of absence to the needs and condition of their charge. This flexibility enables the employer to maintain ties with the employee, which in turn facilitates a return to work.

With a growing sandwich generation, aging population and increased life expectancy, the ability for support to loved ones in need has become part of today’s reality.