The answer to “Sandwich Generation” retention

How do you retain your valuable employees who find themselves in the “Sandwich Generation” - a generation of people who care for their aging parents while supporting their own children?

Imagine an employee who leaves work 30 mins early to pick up mom’s prescription, then fights traffic for another 45 minutes to get to the daycare on time and avoid the exorbitant late fee. Once they are home, they whirl around the kitchen, trying to whip together a healthy meal for their family while struggling with the guilt from missed time at the office. I’m sure this is all too familiar for most of you.  After all, the Pew Research Center, reported just over one of every eight Americans aged 40 to 60 is both raising a child and caring for a parent, in addition to between seven and ten million adults caring for their aging parents from a long distance. 

These individuals are at war with themselves - struggling with demands from so many with so few hours in the day.  They know the importance of putting family first, but they also know what is expected of them at the office. For the ones I know, their professional life is a safe haven. It is the place where they can give 100% and reap tremendous rewards with often quantifiable measures of success.  It feeds their sense of accomplishment, pays their bills and hopefully allows them to financially prepare for their own “golden years”.  That is unless it is totally derailed by the competing factors previously mentioned.  Do you doubt for a minute that it happens?  You know it does.  The question isn’t IF it happens, but rather how frequently.  I see it every day amongst my clients. 

A year ago, I received a call from Theresa, a local customer. Theresa was frantic, “My Mom was hospitalized in Chicago and all she will tell is that she is fine and I shouldn’t fly up there!  I have several meetings scheduled throughout the remainder of this week, but how can I possibly concentrate when I’m worried sick about my Mom?” she said.  I calmly explained that we had great staff in Chicago who can visit her Mom first thing in the morning.  Kathy, a concierge team member, was the first visitor to arrive at the hospital the next morning.  She presented a stack of magazines and crossword puzzles along with a beautiful bouquet of flowers as she explained to the elderly patient that her loving daughter, clear across the US, was worried sick about her.  She sat up in her hospital bed a look of surprise on her face. This expression quickly turned to one of pride as she realized that her daughter cared enough to send someone to check on her.  After chatting for a bit, Kathy suggested that they “Face Time” the daughter to which the mother agreed without fully understanding what she committed to.  Theresa answered the call, breathless and worried.   The mother apologized for her appearance once she realized that Theresa could see her. Theresa laughed.  With a sigh of relief, she felt the weight of world being lifted off her shoulders. If her mother was worried about the way she looked, it couldn’t possibly be that bad, whatever the problem. Later Theresa admitted to Kathy that she had given back her peace of mind. Will it happen again?  Let’s hope not, but if it does, she knows with confidence, that – with our help – she can handle it. 

Peace of mind + few extra hours of “free time” added to their busy week = An employee for life!  We invest so many resources to recruit, hire and train top talent and we simply can’t afford for them leave.  Isn’t it worth the investment to send the message, “We understand your struggles and we want to partner with you to address these challenges”?  Whether the solution is a flexible work schedule, tele-commuting, or concierge/errand running services like TimeSquared, the rewards of reduced turnover and increased engagement are tremendous!

Lessons from the edge

 “I see hundreds of high-level professionals who are brilliant, achievement-oriented and accomplished, but at the same time exhausted, depleted, depressed and demoralized.  In the pursuit of a great career, they’ve compromised their health and well-being.  …  Sacrificing your health and well-being demonstrates your lack of prioritizing yourself as important, failing to understand that you must care for yourself before you can be of true service to anyone else, your organization, your family or your employer.” ~ Kathy Caprino for Forbes


Picture this.  I’m at a large consulting firm and meeting an executive client for the first time, I turn to greet her and notice immediately that her eye is twitching so wildly that she can’t even make eye contact with us.  What we learn is she was just notified that she would be traveling out of the country the next day on business and her housekeeper just reported that the washer broke mid spin cycle.  So, the clothes she needed for the trip are submerged in 15 gallons of soapy water. The icing on the cake is that the housekeeper doesn’t speak English.  I explain we will have a Spanish-speaking team member call the housekeeper and ask her to take the wet clothes to the laundromat to wash them.  Meanwhile a member of our team headed to the house to check the warranty and manage the washer repair. When I mentioned we would pick up voltage converters and healthy snacks for her trip on the way, I saw a tear roll down her face.  She said nothing.  I opened my arms and gave her a big hug. 

Dare we admit that we have been that executive a time or two?  Perhaps you are surrounded by people just like her in your workplace.  What can we do to create a healthier environment? 

·         Stop the fire drills – everything can’t possibly be urgent.  Set realistic deadlines. Give employees ample notice when a change to a daily routine is required: travel, working late, taking on additional responsibilities. 

·         Create an environment that fosters open communication.  Employees must feel there is a safe place for them to express their struggles and challenges. 

·         Give them resources to help themselves. Whether the need is finding reliable childcare, homework help for their teenager, or the errand running services of TimeSquared, provide them the assistance they need.


Employees sacrificing their health and well-being can have permanent health consequences and a domino effect on virtually every aspect of their lives.  From relationships to work quality to productivity and even the quality and quantity of sleep they can receive – everything is negatively impacted. You know the struggle is real and your employees are worth the investment.  I hope you will consider these changes within your organization.  After all, your people are your greatest asset and they are worth the investment!


“If your body is shutting down, diseased or broken down from the way you work, rapid change is needed.” ~ Kathy Caprino from Forbes

Building Your Corporate Culture…one small gesture at a time

The September 2014 Robert Half article titled, “9 Low-Cost Ways to Keep Employee Retention High” reminds us that it is often the small gestures that are important.  But, isn’t that usually the case in life?  Men, don’t get me wrong, expensive jewelry is always appreciated!  However, dare I admit that remembering my favorite dessert or finding a message on a Post It note when I open my laptop can mean almost as much. 

 This concept reminds me of the saying, “Rome wasn’t built in a day” and neither is your company’s culture.  The foundation may be your Core Values and Mission Statement, but you have an opportunity to lay bricks each day with the small gestures and initiatives that are in complete alignment.  An example of one small initiative at TimeSquared Concierge is that we gather personal information during on-boarding and you never know when that information may be used to surprise you.  For example, your favorite ice cream flavor may be purchased for the office when you make a big sale or your favorite type of flowers might be sent to you when you are out sick.  We are in the business of anticipating needs and making our clients feel special.  Why wouldn’t we do the same for our valued employees.  After all, without them, our company simply couldn’t succeed.

I’d love to hear some of your signature small gestures that shape your corporate culture.

Great advice on ways to safeguard our four-legged family members

We are always looking for ways to keep you happy and healthy! So, we'd like to share this blog post from K-9 Coach.  They are a great dog training, grooming, boarding company that we highly recommend.  This particular post is important because it warns all of us about some foods that you probably didn't realize could be harmful to your pet.  For example, grapes could cause renal failure in dogs and Macadamia nuts can be poisonous!  So, heed these warnings...... no matter how much they give you those pleading "puppy dog eyes".

What is most important to the success of your company?


“New Tech employees may not be looking for another job right now, but they are not necessarily committed to staying with their company in the medium to long term.” 2015 New Tech Benchmark report


A key driver of Employee Engagement: Leaders who demonstrate that people are important to the company’s success

According to CultureAmp’s 2015 NewTech Benchmark report, Having Leaders who demonstrate that People are important to the company’s success is one of the top 5 Key Drivers of Employee Engagement in New Tech.  That begs the question, “What are you doing to send that message loud and clear to your team?”  Does your team feel that the leadership within your organization directly correlates the firm’s success to their valiant efforts?  Does your leadership speak to their valued contributions?  More importantly, what are you as a firm doing to demonstrate this to your people? 

If you are stumped by this line of questioning, don’t feel bad.  You are in good company with the majority of firms throughout the US.  But not for much longer, because you were smart enough to read this post!  The solution is not only easy, but it pays for itself time and time again through increased employee productivity, retention, and of course, employee engagement!

Are you ready?! Give your employees what they value most – TIME.   TimeSquared Concierge is the personal errand service that corporations offer as an employee benefit.  We handle all of their running around so they can spend their limited amount of “free” time doing what they value most…and I guarantee you it is NOT battling the weekend crowds at Costco, WalMart or even Target as great as Nate Berkus’ home collection may be. We will stock their refrigerator, take their vehicles in for service, meet contractors at their homes; the list goes on and on!

So, if you want to increase employee engagement give them the benefit that clearly states that you value them and their contribution by giving them what they want most!

Industrious…. not the sexiest quality, but it is one of my favorites

“Industrious” Okay, so, perhaps it is not the quality that you lead with when writing your profile.  What does that mean? Can she build a Hoverboard out of an old toaster oven? Mock if you want, but it is a word I use to describe myself, and I am, personally, quite fond of it.  Here is why.

I always thought the World is a big place.  There will always be someone who is pretty or smarter or perhaps, easier to get along with than I.  Of course; you won’t have to search as long for the later as you would for the first two criteria.  However, I can always find a way to get shit done.  Now, it might get messy, painful, even hard to watch at times, but I Will Not, Can Not Quit….until “it” is done.  People say I am “resilient” and I quietly smile.  The truth is that I am not resilient.  I feel every setback like it is a knife to my heart.  I take everything personally.  At lightning speed, I can surmise 20 reasons how I “failed” in any given situation. Then, I pick myself back up and continue the quest. Why?  Quite honestly, I don’t think it even occurs to me that there is another option.  What is quitting? It is not even in my vocabulary much less my consciousness.  Try another way.  Approach the challenge from another angle. 

So, “industrious” – it fits my like my favorite pair of designer jeans.  I guess there is no doubt that my new company, TimeSquared Concierge, will succeed. Right?  Come along for the ride.  You won’t be disappointed.

Welcome 2016

As I look towards 2016, I can’t help but reflect on the many reasons why we do what we do.  I wanted to share just a couple of stories that I hope resonate with you as they do with me…

One very busy day, we received an urgent request to purchase and deliver a stroller.  A member of the concierge team dropped everything and raced to the store.  Although, we don’t make a habit of questioning our clients, the concierge admitted that it seemed odd that a stroller would be “urgent”.  Did the customer’s stroller just break mid-walk? Did he/she not expect a baby to appear at their home?  The concierge arrived at the client’s house a bit flustered until she saw a vision that stopped her dead in her tracks.  The client, a high-powered female partner at a prestigious law firm, was seated under a tree in her front yard cradling a precious baby.  Happiness radiated from the woman’s face as she looked up to see her concierge with tears streaming down her face.  She proceeded to explain that she was afraid to fill her home with baby items as she waited for the call from the adoption agency.  She wanted a baby so badly that the cute, cuddly reminders would simply make her too sad.  The concierge promptly wiped away her tears and congratulated the proud new mommy and her new bundle of joy.  Then, in typical TimeSquared fashion, she proceeded to make a list of all of the other tasks that this client needed to off-load to us so that she could focus on her important new role.  We are so honored to play a small part in the most important journeys of our clients’ lives!


Admittedly, when a call escalates to me as the CEO of the company, I am immediately concerned that we might have a dissatisfied customer.  This particular client was a hospital patient who was apparently screaming at the nurses.  So, one of them thought to call me to handle it!  The patient was completely out of sorts because he was brought into the Emergency Room a couple of days prior and was going to have to stay for several additional days.  However, he felt out of sorts because he didn’t have any of the personal items required to make him feel comfortable.  The nurse explained that my team would be glad to purchase and deliver anything that he needed.  Once I calmed him down, I began to ask him questions not about what he needed from the store but rather, what would really make him feel better.  If he could have anything, what would it be?  And not surprising given that he was in a hospital, he wanted things from his home.  After all, it is the familiar that often gives us peace and comfort.  The most important item was his wheelchair.  He said, “They keep telling me that they have plenty of wheelchairs at the hospital, but I want MY wheelchair – it’s a part of me!”  I replied, “I get it, your wheelchair is your legs, and they are clear across town!”  He laughed out loud and then said, “You do get it, and that means more than I can explain.”  I sent a concierge to his home to retrieve his favorite comfy sweatpants, slippers, etc. and, of course, his legs!  We are so grateful for hospital clients who understand that patient care is more than just procedures and prescriptions and allow us to help their patients along the arduous road to recovery.


Simply put, making a difference is why we do what we do.  The opportunity to make a positive impact on our clients’ lives fulfills us.  We are motivated to figure out what that looks like for each customer. 

We, at TimeSquared, welcome 2016 as a year filled with making a difference.

We look forward to doing so for you and your valued employees!

People often ask me, “Why start a new company in the same space you were in for over two decades?”

It’s A New Day.  “The concierge space is very different today. Cutting-edge companies have different expectations from the concierge industry then they did 24 years ago.  Modern approaches to concierge products and services are vital for helping businesses launch into the future.  I have had the advantage of combining 24+ years of experience with building fresh proprietary technology, and out-of-the-box thinking to pioneer the next gen corporate concierge service.  I am hitting today’s (and tomorrow’s) vital business challenges head on!”

Better Technology.  “Today economic climate has raised the bar for efficiency and technology requirements for all technology-enabled professional services firms.  Companies are looking for better technology to affect efficiencies of the service deliver, reporting capabilities, and accessibility.  Most major players in the concierge industry are saddles with legacy technology and a mindset of business as usual.”

Best-In-Class Solutions. “I still have so much passion for the industry and I started my new company, TimeSquared, with a clean slated to reach way beyond what is currently offered to build what today’s clients are asking for.  I listened and responded to clients’ expectations of being able to access their site from any device without fear of personal information being compromised.  Live chat is a must, and collecting feedback must be automated and reported in real time.  Clients responded that these unique TimeSquared solutions are best in class since most companies don’t offer a mobile-enabled, co-branded website for clients to log into to place and/or track their preferences and request status.  Often, calling in or emailing requests is the standard and monthly reports is still entered manually and reported via Excel spreadsheet.”

Local Errand Running Service.  “More and more customers are booking their travel and entertainment for themselves.  However, they are still challenged with finding a reliable way to off-load their personal errands to help manage work-life balance.  They take time off from work or skip lunch to meet contractors at their home, take their vehicle in for service, stock their refrigerator, etc.  TimeSquared is uniquely positioned to improve work-life balance by providing local errand running services throughout North America.  Smartphones have become the taskmasters and have replaced traditional call centers.”


“The industry’s most robust technology, 24+ years of experience and limitless passion for new ways of taking care of people - this is the winning formula for pioneering the new corporate concierge industry!      

~ Andrea Arena, Founder TimeSquared Concierge 

5 Simple and Affordable Ways to Show Your Employees You Appreciate Them

Your employees work hard providing you with the services and products you need on an ongoing basis. As a result, your company is profitable and may even be growing and expanding. That's why it is so important to keep your employees happy. Many small businesses (and large ones, too) don't always see the opportunities for boosting employee morale or offering incentives because they believe these to be too expensive or not desired by the staff. Here are a few simple steps you can take that can make an immediate, positive impression on your employees…and, they do not have to cost a lot!

#1: Give Your Employees Power Breaks

One of the best ways to give your employees something they need - and will always appreciate - is by giving them a power break. According to TDS Connect’s March  2015 business blog entry aptly named, “Employee Appreciation: Unique perks and practices in retention”, studies show that 17-20 minute pause provides a refreshing break and yields increased productivity.   Recent surveys indicate that individuals who get 15 to 20-minute breaks throughout the workday are more productive than those who work hours on end without interruption. How can you do this? Encourage your employees to take a walk, lounge or even nap for 20 minutes in the late morning or early afternoon hours. That little bit of relaxation and peace - especially away from computers and phones - can transform them.

#2: Give Them Concierge Services

Help your employees focus on the job at hand by taking care of some of life’s more mundane tasks for them. For example, provide them with a concierge service that can handle their time-consuming research, like travel or event planning, take their vehicles in for service, or complete all of their shopping. Providing this benefit is one of the simplest ways you can bring a smile to your employee's face while boosting productivity.

#3: Give Them Key Services

Providing employees with perks they want is important, and it is easier to do than you may think. Here are a few key options:

  • Provide entertainment options such as Netflix or Amazon Prime.

  • Provide access to gym memberships.

  • Schedule house cleaning or lawn care services for your employees upon their wishes.

The key here is to give them something they desire. An easy way to accomplish this is through a cafeteria offering that allows employees to pick the services right for their needs.

#4: Provide Breakfast

Keeping employees happy and motivated is easier to do on a full stomach. Providing breakfast, even if it is just a simple set of options, is one way to do that. You'll get them into the office earlier and may even be able to encourage a healthy start to the day.

#5: Provide Leadership Tools

Also important is providing employees with opportunities to advance and grow. Give them leadership courses or encourage them to train in new positions so they can learn more.

These simple steps can make a big difference in the way your employees see your company.  They also show you appreciate them and recognize that they are your greatest asset. These low-cost jesters will yield tremendous returns.