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WELLBEING PROVISION- ONE SIZE FITS ALL?

By Clare Jupp, People Development Director

THE CONCEPT OF A GOOD WORKPLACE HAS BEEN A PART OF OUR OFFICE CULTURE FOR DECADES, BUT MANY BUSINESS OWNERS STILL DON’T KNOW ALL THAT IT ENTAILS OR WHY IT IS SO IMPORTANT. THE CONCEPT OF ‘WELLBEING’ AND THE TERM ‘WELL’ CAN REFER TO MANY DIFFERENT ASPECTS OF A PERSON. IT CAN INVOLVE EMOTIONAL WELLNESS, PHYSICAL WELLNESS, AND AN OVERALL FEELING OF ENGAGEMENT AND HAPPINESS THAT COMES FROM WORKING IN A CAREER THAT IS FULFILLING.

 

PUTTING A FOCUS ON THE WELL-BEING OF YOUR TEAM WILL PAY DIVIDENDS MANY TIMES OVER. IT’S IMPORTANT TO HAVE A PLAN IN PLACE TO ENCOURAGE AND SUPPORT YOUR EMPLOYEES ON MANY LEVELS. THE QUESTION IS, DOES ‘ONE SIZE’ FIT ALL? FURTHERMORE, IS AGE A FACTOR THAT WE NEED TO CONSIDER WHEN PLANNING SUCH A PROGRAMME?

 

Last week I overheard a junior team member telling a colleague that her mum was 48. Initially, I was rather staggered as that’s the same age as me. However, rather than reflecting for too long on my own ‘old’ age, it made me think how very young some of our youngest team members really are and how Brightstar, just like any other business, has a multi-generational workforce.

 

As a Director of People Development, this is of particular interest to me as I have to and want to be in tune with our people; to understand each of them fully and be aware of their needs, interests, aspirations and vulnerabilities. The question is, how (if at all) does age affect how people think, work and are motivated? Does it affect the way people want to be rewarded? Does support and provision need to be given in different ways?

 

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

 

I can’t say we have 5 generations of employees at Brightstar, but we still have a wide ranging, diverse group to consider (19-56) and whatever their age, keeping everybody happy and well looked after is one of my top priorities. Indeed, I believe that focusing on wellbeing helps employers to improve employee satisfaction and happiness and so this keeps them motivated and productive.   However, as research suggests, it is crucial for companies to be able to manage the wellbeing of each generation effectively, in order to see these results. Of course the challenge is that one generation’s needs and preferences are unlikely be the same as another’s.

 

With this in mind, in order to help businesses understand the characteristics and wellbeing needs of each generation, and therefore provide suitable initiatives, I came across this useful guide which I feel provides some practical suggestions on how to provide 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 WWII, this generation is perceived to value tradition and conform to social norms. Some of the needs and concerns for this older generation 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 (EAP) to help with bereavement and loss

 

  1. 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 generation.

 

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

 

  1. Generation X: age 38-53

Status hungry and hardworking, Gen-X may expect employment perks to match. They’re 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 GPs online or on the telephone so employees don’t 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

 

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

 

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

 

In summary, it is clear that the most successful wellbeing programmes are those that recognise the specific needs and expectations of today’s changing and diverse workforce. Having a Wellbeing 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’s as simple as that.

 

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