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7 minute read |

It’s Time to Start Talking about Generational Wellness

Your onsite clinic and wellness program should feel a lot like a tailored outfit. It covers everything it needs to, but it also fits in all the right places, feels great, and is built for longevity.

That ‘tailoring’ is your consideration of generational wellness. If you’re not taking the time to understand the different generational needs of your workforce – and this feature will explain how different those needs are – it’s like putting on a baggy shirt and heading out for a night on the town. That shirt may be getting the job done, but it’s not well-fitted to you.

Three Generations, Three Ways to Approach Wellness

Pew Research notes that, as of 2017, Millennials (ages ~23-39) make up 35% of the American workforce. That’s 56 million either working or looking for work. GenXers (ages ~40-54) come in second with 53 million, and Boomers (ages ~55-75) are declining at 41 million (Interestingly enough, post-Millennials – sometimes called Gen Z – already made up 9 million of American workers as of 2017).

It may feel like ‘generational wellness’ is an overstatement of the differences seen between different age groups. After all, every generation wants to feel better, eat healthier, and live long, right? While in broad terms this is true, the different paradigms and cultural values that surround (and have surrounded) each generation play a major role in how those generations view the systems around them. One of the more telling differences comes in the form of healthcare.

By examining what each generation cares about regarding their healthcare and comparing it to the particular generational make-up of your workforce, you’ll be able to design a wellness program that’s tailored to the needs of your employees. This makes for a lean and mean wellness program that’s high on efficacy and low on wasted resources.

Millennials – Reimagining the Primary Care Model

Millennials – those born roughly between 1980 and 1996 – are the largest workforce in America. You might imagine them as the 20-something who bikes to work wearing AirPods and munching on avocado toast. In reality, 40% of Millennials are married or living together, and 30% are parents.

According to a study conducted by Kantar Health and Greyhealth Group, only 41% of Millennials view a doctor as the best source of health information. This is due in part to the increasing access of digital and web-based sources that provide medical information. For example, Millennials are more likely to be satisfied with sources like WebMD and the Mayo Clinic (39%, compared to 29% of non-Millennials) when searching for help with chronic condition management and episodic illness. In short, Millennials are much more likely to visit Dr. Google before visiting a clinician.

Interestingly enough, this bevy of information that hallmarks Millennial research is part and parcel of their generational anxiety and indecision. More so than GenXers and Boomers, Millennials often feel very unsure of what the right decision is regarding their health. According to the same study above, only 23% feel that their doctor reports health results in an understandable way. Only 19% feel that their doctor proactively manages their health.

This proactive approach to health is another distinction that Millennials carry over their older counterparts: they are much more likely to have a broader definition of health and wellness, specifically regarding mental health and emotional well-being. While GenXers listed “physically fit” and “free from illness” as the most important indicators of health, Millennials listed “physically fit” and “happy.”

How to Cater to Millennial Employees

There are a few ways that your health and wellness program can speak to and engage Millennial workers. Consider designing your program with the following ideas in mind:

Wellness programs that consider more than just diet and exercise

Healthstat offers self-guided wellness programs through its digital Healthstat Hub, including financial well-being and mental health. By promoting a definition of wellness that coincides with Millennials’ comprehensive approach, you’ll see engagement that lowers claims costs and improves morale.

Design communications that speak in a relatable way and provide patient-centric tools

Millennial patients will almost certainly have done their own research before visiting the onsite clinic. It’s important to deliver information to them as a partner in their health, not an authority figure. Your clinic vendor should also be able to provide patient-centric tools (like Healthstat’s Patient Portal) that gives Millennials the control they want over their health.

Run on-site classes like exercise groups, nutrition courses, and sleep seminars

In a study from the American Institute for Preventive Medicine, younger people were more likely to participate in on-site exercise and were more interested in healthy cooking skills and sleep enhancement. Design your program with inclusive classes that allow your employees to come together and learn; Healthstat offers nutrition classes, weekly fitness groups, and fun exercise challenges through its onsite wellness programs that cater to a broad definition of health.

Make navigating the system easy

While still a broad band of America’s workforce, a portion of Millennials are just now beginning to take over as primary advocates of their own health (compared to a parent or primary caretaker). With this in mind, your wellness program should incorporate easy-to-understand information that speaks to Millennials and their often-unsure understanding of the healthcare system.

GenXers – The Untapped Gold Mine of Health Improvements

Generation X is often labeled as the forgotten generation. Sandwiched between the Boomers and Millennials (the latter of which is expected to overtake the former as America’s largest generation this year), these employees aged 40-54 play a pivotal role in communal health.

Part of their “untapped” potential comes from their status as Health Activators. Unlike Boomers and Millennials, a majority of GenXers are responsible for health decisions that impact both their parents and children. In this sense, they’re responsible for the health habits of both the Boomers and Generation Z (the generation after Millennials).

GenXers are the most highly educated generation (35% have college degrees). According to a 2016 Xerox study, 2 in 3 are “savvy” or “very savvy” healthcare consumers. They were working adults during 9/11, faced the brunt of the 2008 housing market crash, and are responsible for multi-generational wellness in a volatile healthcare market; in 2014, personal healthcare expenditures grew to $3 trillion. For this reason, Generation X is considered the key to impacting health and wellness for years to come.

A 2011 paper from the Journal of Behavioral Studies in Business noted that Generation X is defined by skepticism, disillusionment, and questioning conventionality. They’re like Millennials in being somewhat untrusting of “authority”, but they don’t necessarily eschew the primary care model with the same vigor as Millennials.

According to a study from Kantar Health and Greyhealth Group, GenXers are concerned about looking good, feeling secure, and taking good care of others. They demand transparency in communications and, in a 2009 Thomson Reuters Health Study, are most likely to say “Educate Me!” in regard to healthcare.

How to Cater to GenX Employees

There are a few ways that your health and wellness program can speak to and engage GenX workers. Consider designing your program with the following ideas in mind:

Emphasize a provider-patient relationship

The connection between clinician and patients can have significant impact on a clinic’s overall usage and efficacy. GenXers enjoy consistent, reliable communication that gives them the information they need to be Health Activators. Healthstat’s clinic program is founded on the transtheoretical model of behavior change, which hinges on timely communication that’s personalized to a patient and encourages consistent patient-provider contact.

Offer 1-on-1 services that highlight a GenXer’s pivotal role

Since a GenXer is often the focal point of generational wellness (with aging parents and adolescent children), it’s important to meet with them individually to discuss their health options and plan. Healthstat offers 1-on-1 health and wellness coaching with certified Wellness Coaches that give proper focus to GenXers with a busy schedule. We can also design plans that allow for employee dependents (like spouses and children) to utilize the Healthstat onsite clinic.

Have a consistent and reliable “brand”

GenXers are more brand-loyal than both Millennials and Boomers, so consistency in branding is vital. Consider seminars, classes, and engagement campaigns that not only advertise the clinic’s capabilities but also educate your employees on best practices in health.

Boomers – Prioritize Savings, Talk Face-to-Face

The Boomers are declining as a workforce in America as retirement age looms, but they still make up 25% of American labor. Running from ages ~55-75, they’re also often the biggest contributors to a business’ healthcare spend and claims costs.

They are much more likely to trust the authority of a primary care clinician or doctor and much less likely to use the Web for healthcare information than both GenXers and Millennials. According to a study from the American Institute of Preventive Medicine, less than a quarter of Millennials contact a doctor when ill. In comparison, nearly 40% of those aged 50-69 will contact a doctor when symptomatic. The same study noted that younger people are more likely to request health incentives in the form of wearable fitness devices and tech, while older people are more likely to want lower insurance premiums.

According to a study conducted by the CDC Workplace Health Resource Center, both GenXers’ and Boomers’ top health goal was to “lose weight” (in comparison, Millennials were concerned with getting more sleep and reducing stress). Boomers are also much less open to broad definitions of healthcare: they are the least interested in personalized health communications that don’t come from a doctor, and only 36% are like to use on-site mental health services (compared to 54% of Millennials).

How to Cater to Boomer Employees

There are a few ways that your health and wellness program can speak to and engage Boomer workers. Consider designing your program with the following ideas in mind:

Prioritize face-to-face engagement

In a study from the American Institute for Preventive Medicine, Boomers prefer more in-person learning than younger people. Consider seminars and lessons from trusted authorities (clinicians and Wellness Coaches) that can leave Boomers feeling confident about what they’re learning. Healthstat’s robust wellness programs can provide yearly, monthly, and even weekly classes on diet, exercise, and emotional well-being.

Don’t neglect traditional communication

Both GenXers and Boomers are still likely to check their mail habitually, whereas Millennials are used to communications within the digital realm. Don’t forget traditional communication in both marketing your onsite clinic as well as providing healthcare updates. For example, a Healthstat Health Risk Assessment event sends out a patient’s biometric results across multiple channels, including physical mail and an upload to a participant’s Patient Portal, to ensure that no patient misses important health findings.

Emphasize Chronic Condition Management

Boomers are the most likely subset of your workforce to be experiencing chronic conditions. These conditions are, in turn, often the biggest contributors to your organization’s healthcare spend. It’s important to remind your employees of the clinic’s full capabilities, including comprehensive chronic care and prescription dispensing. Many Boomers may not visit the clinic if they mistakenly believe that it is just a wellness program.

It’s difficult to overstate just how important generational wellness is to an organization. Your onsite clinic model should be flexible and multi-faceted in both the services it provides as well as they way it markets itself. Partner with Healthstat today and examine the make-up of your workforce. How will you be reaching each generation that’s on your payroll?

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