4 ways to modernize wellness programs for millennials
Millennials will comprise more than one of three adult Americans by 2020 and 75% of the workforce by 2025, according to the Governance Studies at Brookings report “How Millennials Could Upend Wall Street and Corporate America.” But how can you ensure your company is an attractive prospect to this future workforce?
Looking at health and wellbeing through the eyes of millennials, and taking steps to modernize your benefits offering in line with research could be a crucial first step. Here are four suggestions for reaching out the rising generation of important workers.
Use technology to modernize health benefits
According to technology consultancy Endeavors Partners, 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 18 owns an activity tracker and by 2018, U.S. employers will integrate more than 13 million wearable health and fitness tracking devices into employee wellness programs.
Companies are continuing to make large investments in walking-based challenges, weight maintenance programs and other physical initiatives. Some tech companies are even looking into ways to incorporate wearable gear that measures brainwaves, as well as meditation programs that help employees improve communication and leadership abilities.
To appeal to tech-savvy, social networking millennials, consider implementing programs that ‘gamify’ wellness through friendly competition and encourage social interaction through live fitness coaching delivered to employees via two-way video conferencing.
Create a program for millennials’ own values
Younger employees seek more flexibility, convenience and control over their benefits. In response, many employers are providing more choice to appeal to these needs.
For example, a growing number of businesses offer high-deductible health plans for major medical insurance and package it with voluntary benefits. This has the advantage of lowering health insurance premiums while protecting employees from the potential financial exposure created by the high deductible. Offering a menu of voluntary benefits — such as disability, accident, critical illness and hospitalization insurance — lets employees choose the benefits that best fit their unique needs.
Research shows employees of all generations want these additional benefits. In fact, one-third of employees tend to enroll in every type of coverage offered, according to the 2016 Employee Benefits Enrollment Study conducted by Customer Benefits Analytics and Lodestar Advisory Partners.
According to Willis Towers Watson, other new and emerging options topping employees’ most-wanted list include identity theft protection, student loan repayment programs and pet insurance.
Maximize emotional support via EAPs & telehealth solutions
A new study from Bensinger, Dupont & Associates revealed millennial employees may suffer from depression more than any other generation in the workforce.
Insights such as this suggest the need for employers to make a measurable difference in employees’ overall health and productivity by adopting a more holistic approach to connect employees with their workplace.
EAPs provide direct, confidential access to professionals who can assist with areas of concern causing employee distress — from work-related issues to family problems and mental illness. Another business option is to offer a telehealth service that includes behavioral health care services. This could be a more convenient option for many.
Choose incentive programs with care
Health incentive programs appeal to millennials, specifically those that are action and progress-based. For action-based incentives, employees are required to complete a health improvement program after going through a risk assessment, such as joining a weight-management program, participating in health coaching or getting appropriate preventive screenings. The model motivates employees to adopt healthy behaviors.
Progress-based plans offer rewards for improving benchmarks for cholesterol, blood pressure and weight if they are not at optimal/desirable levels. Employees are financially motivated to improve their health, instead of being penalized for not being perfect.
While some of the most popular incentive programs offer financial rewards, one issue is they may not achieve long-term behavior change. This is because individuals don’t always focus on long-term benefits if they receive a short-term reward.
Some businesses find building a general culture of health through a healthy workplace environment is the best way to motivate millennials. Offering flexible work schedules, giving workers latitude in decision-making, providing convenient opportunities for physical activity such as walking trails or treadmill workstations, offering healthy food and beverage options and encouraging reasonable health goals could establish more permanent and sustainable health behaviors.
When it comes to providing health benefits and corporate wellbeing programs that appeal to younger generations, the answer could be building in flexibility and choice. From offering flexible work schedules and benefits that can be tailored, to providing tech-based health programs, there are many ways to modernize your offering to help attract and retain the growing number of millennials in the workplace.