A lot has been written about the impact of Millennials on America’s workforce. And it’s true that young people—those born between 1980 and 1995—have very different skills and values from the Gen-Xers and Boomers who preceded them. Companies seeking to engage them often focus on their tech savvy, their teamwork bias, and their desire for work/life balance. But as FoxBusiness.com recently reported, a new Aon Hewitt study reveals another way to create a Millennial-friendly culture: help them manage their health. Carmella Sebastian (also known as Dr. Carm or “The Wellness Whisperer”) says smart companies will heed this advice in light of the coming workplace demographic shift.
“Millennials are very comfortable with the idea of employers being involved in their health,” says Dr. Carm, a WELCOA (Wellness Council of America)-certified expert in workplace wellness. At Florida Blue, she oversees the National Committee for Quality Assurance-accredited wellness program “Better You from Blue” and manages more than 100 client consultations per year.
According to the Aon Hewitt study, 46 percent of Millennials want to gather as much quantifiable data about their health as possible, 64 percent say that cash (or another tangible benefit) would most motivate them to participate in a workplace wellness program and 33 percent indicate that providing cash-based incentives would most help them achieve their 2014 health goals.
Workplace wellness may be defined as any workplace health promotion activity or organizational policy designed to support healthy behavior in the workplace and to improve health outcomes. Participating companies might offer health education and coaching, medical screenings, weight management programs, on-site fitness programs, smoking cessation counseling, etc. They might also allow flex time for exercise, offer healthy options in vending machines, provide incentives for participation, and more.
The best news is well-designed, well-run wellness programs that focus on weight management, smoking cessation, medical screenings and other services pay off. In the February 2010 issue of Health Affairs, several wellness program studies were published, revealing that medical costs fell $3.27 for every $1 spent on wellness. Furthermore, absenteeism costs fell $2.73 for every $1 spent.
“Harder to quantify, but just as impactful, is the fact that your investment in your employees’ well-being will jump-start their morale, loyalty, and engagement—all of which is good news for their productivity and your bottom line,” adds Dr. Carm. “And since the Millennials who are driving the wellness movement will be in the workforce for quite some time, think of proactively engaging with them as a smart long-term investment.”
Dr. Carm suggests 10 elements of a good workplace wellness program: