Health of baby boomers concerns employers
Employers are more concerned about the health and wellbeing of baby boomers than they are about any other generation in the workplace, across all areas of physical and mental health, according to findings from our research project.
In fact the research highlights that employers’ concern for the health and wellbeing of staff increases with employees’ age: they have least concerns for their Generation Z employees, their concerns rise to a greater degree for millennials and Generation X, and peak for baby boomers.
We asked employers to compare how six different key areas of health and wellbeing affect four different generations of their staff. The findings show that baby boomers are the generation that they are most concerned about across all areas.
· Baby boomers’ general lack of fitness caused by a non-active lifestyle and sedentary working was the biggest worry for employers (32%), although their concerns for Generation X (29%) and millennials (30%) were not far behind. Only 23% of employers have concerns for Generation Z in this area.
· Living with long-term chronic illness or health conditions (such as diabetes) was the issue that caused employers the second most concern for baby boomers (31%). Employers also had some concerns for Generation X (28%) and millennials (27%). Employers did not see long-term chronic illness as quite such a concern for Generation Z (21%).
· Ill-health related to lifestyle – such as obesity, smoking, alcohol dependence was the next most pressing concern for employers about their baby boomer employees (30%). 27% of employers worried about this for their Generation X employees, 26% for millennial employees and 18% for their Generation Zers.
And baby boomers’ mental health was just as great a concern as their physical health for employers:
· Stress and anxiety relating to home life - such as caring responsibilities and managing difficult relationships was a concern of employers for the baby boomer generation (26%). Less so for Generation X (24%), millennials (20%) and Generation Z (17%).
· Stress and anxiety related to work – such as pressures of overwork, uncertainty of future, etc worried employers of baby boomers the most (25%). Generation X were a concern for 23% of employers, reducing to 17% for millennials and 16% for Generation Z.
· Stress and anxiety related to finances and debt etc also weighed heavily on the minds of employers for their baby boomer staff (24%), followed by Generation X (22%), millennials (13%) and Generation Z (8%).
Although the research was carried out prior to the COVID-19 situation being on the radar of almost any UK employer or employee, it’s highly likely that the stress and anxiety of employees will only have increased at this time, as the far-reaching implications of the pandemic have taken effect.
Baby boomer loyalty cuts both ways
Many employers rightly appreciate the specific issues their baby boomer employees face. This group will have worked hard over many decades and many employers will feel a particular responsibility to this group as their lives become more complex.
Many businesses will find that their baby boomer generation remains committed to working for longer than many employers had perhaps expected. The work ethic amongst this generation is strong and many mature staff also enjoy the companionship of the workplace and simply do not want to retire. Another factor keeping this generation in the workplace is that some will not be able to afford to retire – with potential pressures on both house prices and retirement income after the pandemic, this could increasingly become the case.
It’s also vital that employee support is provided holistically with adequate resources split between physical, mental, financial and social health, as no-one can predict the twists and turns that an individual’s life may take.
Whilst the baby boomer generation is the one that most concerns employers, it is important that all generations are supported, and across all areas of concern – financial, physical, social and emotional.
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Katharine Moxham is the spokesperson for Group Risk Development (GRiD), a position she’s held exclusively since May 2009. Katharine regularly contributes to industry and business publications and debate and has actively raised the profile of the group risk industry with the media and business organisations.
Prior to joining GRiD, she...