Millennials Most Receptive to Wellness Outreach

To effectively reach Millennials, understand what motivates them

By Stephen Miller, CEBS December 10, 2014

Millennials, more than other generations in the workforce, are the most likely to want employers to play an active role in supporting their overall health and wellbeing, according to a new analysis.

The findings are based on data from the 2014 Consumer Health Mindsetreport, a joint survey of more than 2,700 U.S. employees and their dependents conducted by consultancy Aon Hewitt, the National Business Group on Health and The Futures Company, a research firm.

More than half (52 percent) of Millennials said “living or working in a healthy environment” is influential to their personal health, compared with 42 percent of respondents from Generation X and 35 percent of Baby Boomers.

Millennials also said they are more open to having their direct manager play an active role in encouraging them to get and stay healthy (53 percent), compared with 47 percent of Generation X respondents and 41 percent of Baby Boomers, and are more likely to participate in an employee assistance program (16 percent) than Generation Xers (10 percent) and Baby Boomers (8 percent).

“Employees are increasingly defining well-being to include physical, emotional, financial and social health, and they will expect their employers to support them in their efforts to be healthy,” said Karen Marlo, vice president, National Business Group on Health, in a news release. “Employers have a unique opportunity to engage and motivate the Millennial generation and they are likely to get the strongest results by demonstrating the benefits of establishing healthy habits and behaviors.”

Reaching Millennials

To effectively reach Millennials, Aon Hewitt experts suggest employers consider taking the following steps:

Understand what motivates. More than half of Millennials (55 percent) report their motivation is “to look good,” and not as much to “avoid illness.” Employers should tailor their strategy and communications to show how poor health can impact an individual’s energy and/or appearance.

Know how to reach your audience. Employers should take advantage of apps and mobile-friendly websites to help engage employees in health and wellness campaigns. This might include resources that coordinate an individual’s fitness, food and stress management programs, resources and activities.

Make it easy and convenient. Forty percent of Millennials say they are more likely to participate in health and wellness programs that are “easy or convenient to do.” Employers should remove barriers to helping this generation create good health choices and habits by focusing on programs that meet their work/life balance needs. For example, employers should consider implementing walking meetings or group fitness events or offering onsite health and fitness programs like yoga or Zumba.

Add an element of competition. Millennials are the most likely generation to be interested in “friendly competitions.” Employers may want to explore adding game mechanics and player-centric design, as well as competitions to motivate and engage Millennials. Companywide well-being or fitness challenges, or providing access to a social web platform where individuals can buddy up, build teams and initiate their own mini-challenges, may also be effective.

Stephen Miller, CEBS, is an online editor/manager for SHRM. Follow him on Twitter @SHRMsmiller.


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