Sandwich Generation Hardest Hit Mentally By Pandemic

My colleague Claire recently wrote about Employee Wellbeing & The State Benefits Gap. In her post, Claire highlighted how workers tend to overestimate the amount of support they would receive from the state if they fell ill. She also explained how only a tiny proportion of UK SMEs have suitable safeguards, like group income protection, in place.

Now, new research reveals how the majority of Brits aged between 45 and 54 are more worried about their financial situation than before the lockdown. It’s a reality that further underlines the importance of the security provided by group risk products.

Sandwich generation shouldering the heaviest financial burden

According to the study by Aviva, more than half (55%) of Brits aged between 45-54 — AKA the ‘sandwich generation’ because of the tendency for them to support both parents and children — said they are more worried about their financial situation than before the COVID-19 lockdown. Furthermore, almost a third (30%) said it is negatively impacting their mental health.

The survey, which polled 2,000 UK adults, suggests that this age group is shouldering the heaviest financial burden as a result of the pandemic. Indeed, one in six (16%) said their adult children have become more financially dependent on them as a result of the pandemic. This is the highest percentage of any age group.

In addition to mental health problems, almost two in five (38%) sandwich generation individuals are having trouble sleeping, while 19% said they are experiencing physical health problems, including over-eating, which are preventing them from exercising. A further 9% said they had increased their use of alcohol or drugs during lockdown.

Mental health impact ‘far reaching’

Alistair McQueen, head of savings and retirement at Aviva, said: “While no one is immune to the knock-on effects that the economic downturn will have – the impact on the mental health on the squeezed middle is far-reaching. Too often this generation finds themselves shouldering their own financial burden, and at least part of their children’s, and it’s vital that more support is offered to them. 

“Having confidence in being able to plan for the future is more important now than ever before, yet the vast majority do not, or cannot, access regulated financial advice. This means millions are acting alone, hoping for the best.”

Aviva’s research also revealed that 60% of mid-life adults who discussed their finances with a family member or close friend agreed they felt better for having opened up and discussed it. Of these respondents, 52% also said their relationships with their family and friends were closer as a result of opening up.

Just under half (49%) said the experience has made them feel less embarrassed or inhibited when talking about money, while 48% agreed the conversations they had helped them learn about new financial options.

In Short

Employers have a moral responsibility to ensure their employees have access to sound financial advice. The coronavirus pandemic has put a huge strain on everyone and supporting their employees’ mental health should be at the top of the agenda for every business.