Smooth Employee Transitions to an Empty Nest

Becoming an empty nester is one major life transition that doesn’t typically get much attention in the workplace. Most parents will launch their youngest child into the world, or drop them off at college, then head back to work the next day without any fanfare.

From an employee wellbeing perspective, new empty nesters usually have more need of resources and guidance than is immediately obvious. Adjusting to life without any kids at home is a significant undertaking that shouldn’t be overlooked. Perceptive managers should keep an eye out for what kind of support will be most valuable to their colleagues.

According to, it takes about 3 months to move through empty nest syndrome from grief, to relief, to joy.

The Empty Nest Introduces a New Work-Life Balance

The empty nest comes with a mixed bag of thoughts and feelings for most parents. While they are proud of their children for moving into adulthood and happy to prioritize themselves once again, they might also feel melancholy and at a loss for their purpose.

It’s important to initiate conversations about this transition with empathy and sensitivity. Even employees who appear to be celebrating their newfound freedom may be harboring some sadness or uncertainty about what to do next. An individualized approach is necessary for helping employees navigate a new definition of work-life balance in light of their new dynamics.

For many employees, the empty nest phase of life will open a vault of opportunities for professional development. Now that they have more energy to channel into the organization, maybe they’ll be open to leading special projects, pursuing additional education, or taking on a more intensive role. Alternatively, some employees will start looking to wind down their professional years. They could be more suited to training roles that develop younger co-workers.

Keep in mind that most employees will need time to think about the most beneficial professional adjustments. Maintain an open door policy on these conversations so that they have room to explore their options.

Human Resources Changes for Empty Nesters

Transitioning to an empty nest should fall under the heading of a major life event that triggers an employee benefits review. Human resources managers can mention this during annual enrollment and update periods so that employees who are expecting to become empty nesters will keep it in mind.

If an employee has children in college, their dependents won’t really change for insurance purposes. But now that all of their children are adults, it’s important to review beneficiaries, retirement plan contributions, supplemental health benefits, and even tax withholding. Some changes can be made immediately, while others should be flagged to take effect during the next open enrollment period.

Employee Assistance Program Resources for Empty Nesters

As previously mentioned, most people become empty nesters somewhat quietly. Sometimes it’s difficult to detect if they are struggling to adjust to this new phase of life. An EAP like Carebridge offers fully customized solutions where employees can access a comprehensive mix of services, including:

  • Mental Health Care – for those who are having a hard time with grief, loneliness, or relationship changes
  • Financial or Legal Assistance – to update beneficiaries, legal documents, and retirement planning
  • Support Groups – to find fellow parents in the same circumstances who offer peer support and compassion
  • Work-Life Counseling – to explore a better balance with new priorities
  • Life Coaching – for those who want personal development or change along with this transition

Whether parents are excited about becoming empty nesters, sad and anxious, or a little bit of everything, EAP resources are available to fully support them through this transition.

Help Your Employees Navigate All of Life’s Transitions with Effective Resources

Not only does Carebridge provide a multitude of resources for employees who are in any kind of life transition, but we also support human resources managers and employee supervisors who want the best for their colleagues. Click here to learn how Carebridge EAP can help you and your workforce navigate each phase of life.