Take a look at your workforce population. Chances are, if you were to call a team meeting right now, Gen Xers, Baby Boomers, and Millennials alike will be filing into the room awaiting today’s topic of discussion. Understanding that you have to deliver a session that relates equally to individuals of various ages, backgrounds, and interests, you may find yourself adjusting your approach.
Presenting information in a way that is relatable and consumable for all demographics means you need to know what makes each of them tick. When it comes to promoting wellness, that doesn’t change.
Recent data indicates that adults age 45–69 are approximately three times more likely than adults age 18–44 to report that that they are unable to work due to health problems. These type of problems can impact productivity. The impending issue here is that by 2050, the U.S. Census predicts that 19.6 million American workers will be 65 years or older, roughly 19 percent of the total U.S. workforce. Subsequently, having 19 percent of the U.S. workforce missing work due to health issues can cause some serious implications. So, how do you serve up a delicious yet diverse platter of wellness offerings for this demographic to consume?
Spice it up.
My grandma will be the first to tell me, “I’m old, I’m not dead” (sorry Nan, I love you!). Which brings up a great point: enjoyable experiences are innate and transcend age.
Looking back at workplace wellness over the past couple of decades, you can see the mundane big box gym subsidies had a hard time keeping people of all ages engaged. Why? Because hopping on the treadmill for 30 minutes while the local news plays on the TV overhead is mind-numbing. The solution here: variety.
Offer your employees a network of fitness studios so people can have access to yoga, Zumba, Pilates, CrossFit, boxing, whatever they want. That way, they get to choose which style of fitness is the most intriguing to them. For my grandma, it’s water aerobics at her health club. For your population, it could be any or all of these options. It also allows people to explore new options that they have not heard of or felt they would not be able to try at their local gym.
Make it social.
Humans, for the most part, are social beings. It makes sense to play on this characteristic in promoting wellness to your older workforce, as well. Create events within the company such as: Wednesday night yoga class, or ‘Fitness Friday’, where employees are encouraged to workout with their co-workers and friends. It only takes one wellness champion within the group to ignite a spark. Have that person help to create a social environment and watch the flame spread.
Make it a family affair.
When compared to the younger generation of your workforce, the older populations typically are part of a family and want to lead by example, especially when it comes to healthy living. In knowing this, think of ways to tie in family members on their well-being initiative. Encourage employees to shoot hoops with their grandchildren or children after work, or walk to the office instead of driving. Small steps (especially in quantity) can go a long way, and as a byproduct of your older employees becoming healthier, so, too, become their family members.
So, why does all of this matter? Your older workforce can sometimes require unique (and more costly) health care attention. Older adults are more likely to suffer from chronic illnesses (e.g., cancer, heart disease, diabetes). One in five Americans (at any age) has a chronic condition. This increases to 84% for people 65 years of age or older. In order to be successful in reducing these number of cases, your wellness promotion to your aging workforce needs to resonate with them.
Your older employees are usually your longest tenured employees, which means they can be the most valuable. They know their role inside and out, and can highly influence your company’s culture as new employees will look up to them. Make sure you are doing your part in promoting wellness specifically to that population, and watch the wellness ripple-effect occur.