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Careers Insight: Answering age-old questions

Jupp-Clare-2017Putting a focus on the wellbeing of your team will pay dividends many times over. It is important to have a plan in place to encourage and support employees on many levels. But does one size fit all? Or is age a factor that needs to be considered?

Managers must be in tune with their people. They have to understand each of them fully and be aware of their interests, aspirations and vulnerabilities. The question is, does age affect the way people think? Does it affect the way people want to be rewarded? Does support and provision need to be given in different ways?

It is not unusual today for an organisation to have five different generations working side by side. Indeed, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, the pension crisis, growth in service industries, migration patterns and the expansion of university places are all factors in this shift – and it is one expected to keep increasing.

I thought this useful guide I came across from Benenden Health could offer some practical ideas on how to provide the different generations in your workforce with suitable support for their wellbeing.

The five generations and their wellbeing needs

1. The Silent Generation: age 72+

Born against the backdrop of the Great Depression and World War II, this generation is perceived to value tradition and conform to social norms. Some of the needs and concerns for this demographic are musculoskeletal conditions, heart conditions, poor sleep, visual/hearing impairment and bereavement of loved ones.

Possible wellbeing initiatives:

  • Health assessments to identify possible health risks in advance
  • Ensure correct ergonomic set up of workstations
  • Offer discounted sight/hearing tests
  • Provide access to counselling or an Employee Assistance Programme to help with bereavement and loss

2. Baby Boomers: age 54-71

This generation are in the period of life where diseases and disabilities most often develop. They may be less active than younger generations and suicide rates are also highest amongst this group.

Possible wellbeing initiatives:

  • Encourage exercise through gym membership or cycle to work schemes
  • Offer access to GP and psychological wellbeing helplines
  • Ensure healthy eating options are available in the office canteen
  • Provide regular health assessments to identify risks before they become an issue

3. Generation X: age 38-53

Status hungry and hardworking, Gen-X may expect employment perks to match. They are generally happy and active but do suffer with health issues related to age, such as weight gain, chronic disease and the menopause. Caring for children as well as elderly parents often creates emotional and financial stress.

Possible wellbeing initiatives:

  • GP 24/7 services to allow access to professionals online or on the telephone so employees do not have to take time out of their day to attend appointments
  • Offer flexible working to aid with childcare or the care of elderly family members
  • Provide financial help such as childcare vouchers, and information on tax-free childcare as the voucher scheme transitions this year
  • Offer support services from companies that can provide information and advice on care options and providers

4. Millennials: age 23-37

Millennials are generally more concerned with flexibility and wellbeing at work, compared to financial benefits. Obesity, sleep deprivation and mental health issues are prevalent in this generation, and many are unsatisfied with their current financial situation.

Possible wellbeing initiatives:

  • Promote awareness around healthy eating through healthy eating apps, and providing healthy eating options
  • Run workshops on how to improve sleep and the importance of good sleep patterns
  • Provide access to a mental health helpline
  • Consider allowing flexible start and finish times, remote working or compressed hours

5. Generation Z: age 18-22

The first true digital natives. Growing up in the recession and seeing the shrinking middle class and widening income gap has resulted in this generation often craving security and stability. They may also be very health aware and are more likely to seek help for mental health issues than any previous generation.

Possible wellbeing initiatives:

  • Provide access to physical activity, healthy nutrition and education on sleep and alcohol consumption
  • Introduce digital solutions to wellbeing, such as diet and exercise apps
  • Mindfulness sessions, resilience training and access to counselling
  • Financial wellbeing initiatives including education on budgeting, managing debts and pension education

See the full guide here.

The most successful wellbeing programmes are those that recognise the specific needs and expectations of today’s changing and diverse workforce. Having such a programme in place is vital to the success of any business since there is a definite connection between a supportive workplace and a happy employee.

In my experience, well employees are engaged employees, healthy employees miss less time and happy employees stay longer. It is as simple as that.

Clare Jupp is director of people development at Brightstar

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