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HR News Wire: Millennials Believe Employers Need Better Wellness Programs

16 August
by Josh Hrala
4 minute read

The HR News Wire is a weekly column that explores breaking HR news and research. This week, we look at how Millennials want more wellness programs and how many organizations are failing to meet their expectations.

It should come as no surprise that Millennials care deeply about personal wellness and mental health. However, organizations may be too slow on the uptake,according to a new survey by Welltok,.

To make matters worse, the report also found that most Millennials are 'flight risks' because of these factors. Given that Millennials are the largest generation in the workforce - and will be for some time - these issues should be taken seriously by employers who wish to retain their talents well into the future.

"The report also reveals that more than half of Millennials are a flight risk due to work-related stress, 85% are more likely to participate in health programming if personalized and only one in five confidently know where to access available resources," Welltok, Inc says in their press release.

Let's get into some details.

The Survey

To understand how Millennials view what the team calls 'total wellbeing,' Wellstok teamed up with market research firm Ipsos. When all was said and done, they came to a few striking conclusions based on what those surveyed said.

The first was that 'total wellbeing' - a term that encompasses all forms of wellbeing from mental and physical health to financial and social stability - is nonnegotiable for Millennials.

"When asked to rank health and wellbeing priorities, these new workforce entrants placed a greater emphasis on positive relationships, manageable stress levels and finding a higher purpose compared to the workforce as a whole," the team said.

Secondly, they found that even though most organizations do offer some sort of wellness program, many of them are viewed as irrelevant to these core needs. If offered the right support, 85 percent of those questioned said that they would participate in wellness programs, which is an interesting finding because it has been notoriously hard to incentivize workers to take up wellness programs in the past.

This finding suggests that Millennials are ready and willing to utilize wellness programs, but they have to be the right wellness program that encompasses more than, say, a step challenge or weight loss competition - two common wellness initiatives that companies have used in the past.

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Thirdly, the team found that Millennials want different things than the generations that came before them, especially when it came to money.

"Monetary incentives have become the norm for large employers, but Millennials often place more value on the intangible," the team reports.

"This younger generation would also be motivated to take health actions by extra vacation time (64%), wellness benefits like gym memberships (56%) and flexible work schedules (53%)."

Finally, the team says that stress is a huge factor when it comes to wellness for Millennials. 40 percent of those questioned said that work stress is negatively impacting their lives. And, on top of that, over half of them said that they have considered changing jobs or leaving their jobs to manage stress better.

The team also found that Millennials believe that organizations are largely responsible for helping them manage this stress, too. Not just a few of the participants said this, either. A whopping 73 percent believe this to be true.

What Can HR Do?

To start, it helps to listen to these needs. Sometimes, when a study like this arises, many are quick to simply ignore the issue because they feel like it doesn't affect their organization.

The authors of the study are quick to say that it is important for organizations to recognize the needs of Millennials because they wield a lot of power in the workforce.

"Self and health are synonymous and non-negotiable for Millennials," said Scott Rotermund, Welltok's co-founder and chief growth officer.

"Their health is an extension of who they are and transcends both work and personal life – taking care of their body, being mindful and financially stable. As a result, robust wellbeing offerings are a key component of benefit packages that today's organizations are touting to recruit and retain Millennials."

As a more actionable step, organizations may want to survey their staff members to see what wellness programs they want. Given that every organization is different, it makes sense to start with a baseline before making sweeping changes.

One of the most important things, though, is for managers and HR leaders to recognize that wellness programs are becoming more popular and attractive. This can help organizations put themselves ahead of the competition and attract better workers in today's tight labor market.

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"It is crucial for employers to start meeting the expectations of their younger workers when it comes to developing an effective and attractive wellbeing strategy," added Rotermund.

"Millennials spoke loud and clear: they want and expect personalized support that addresses their individualized needs – a single destination that incorporates a breadth of resources to truly support their total health and wellbeing needs."

The team doesn't offer any concrete solutions for managers, though they do underline - as you can see above - the importance of personalization when it comes to wellness programs.

The Takeaways

The key takeaway here is that organizations need to pay close attention to the wants and needs of their employees, especially when it comes to Millennials because they are such a force of nature in the workplace today.

When it comes to these wellness programs, many Millennials take on a different viewpoint than previous generations. Instead of one-size-fits-all approaches, they want total wellness that is tailored to their needs. They are more concerned with their whole selves than previous generations and, therefore, want wellness programs that can encompass this.

If organizations fail to include wellness as a priority, they may not be able to retain Millennial workers. This insight is backed up by the fact that half of those surveyed said that they have considered changing their jobs due to stress, which they believe should be a top concern for organizations.

In the end, the world of wellness programs is changing, and likely for the better. By placing attention on wellness, organizations can make a better workforce for all generations. After all, a happy, healthy workforce will always outperform a sick and stressed out one.

Read the full study here.

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