Author Profile Picture

Helen Smith

Business Health and Wellbeing Services Provider

Business Health and Wellbeing Services Provider

Read more about Helen Smith

Managing the wellbeing needs of a multigenerational workforce


Demographic change is expected to significantly impact the UK labour market over the next two decades, and it’s not unusual today for an organisation to have five different generations working side by side.  

According to the CIPD, the pension crisis, growth in service industries, migration patterns and the expansion of university places are all factors in this shift, and it is expected to keep increasing.

Focusing on wellbeing and flexibility will help employers to improve employee satisfaction. However, it is crucial for companies to be able to manage the wellbeing of each generation effectively, in order to see these results. The challenge is that one generation’s needs and preferences may not be the same as another’s.

To help businesses understand the characteristics and wellbeing needs of each generation, and therefore provide suitable initiatives, we worked with Jane Abraham, health and wellbeing specialist and Managing Director of Flourish Workplace Ltd, to create this useful guide.

The five generations and their wellbeing needs

1. The Silent Generation: age 72+

Born against the backdrop of the Great Depression and WWII, this generation is perceived to value tradition and conform to social norms. Some of the needs and concerns for this older generation are musculoskeletal conditions, heart conditions, poor sleep, visual/hearing impairment and bereavement of loved ones.

Possible wellbeing initiatives:

  • Health assessments to identify possible health risks in advance

  • Ensure correct ergonomic set up of workstations

  • Offer discounted sight/hearing tests

  • Provide access to counselling or an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) to help with bereavement and loss

2. Baby Boomers: age 54-71

This generation are in the period of life where diseases and disabilities most often develop. They may be less active than younger generations and suicide rates are also highest amongst this generation.

Possible wellbeing initiatives:

  • Encourage exercise through gym membership or cycle to work schemes

  • Offer access to GP and psychological wellbeing helplines

  • Ensure healthy eating options are available in the office canteen

  • Provide regular health assessments to identify risks before they become an issue

3. Generation X: age 38-53

Status hungry and hardworking, Gen-X may expect employment perks to match. They’re generally happy and active but do suffer with health issues related to age, such as weight gain, chronic disease and the menopause. Caring for children as well as elderly parents often creates emotional and financial stress.

Possible wellbeing initiatives:

  • GP 24/7 services to allow access to GPs online or on the telephone so employees don’t have to take time out of their day to attend appointments

  • Offer flexible working to aid with childcare or the care of elderly family members

  • Provide financial help such as childcare vouchers, and information on tax-free childcare as the voucher scheme transitions this year

  • Offer support services from companies that can provide information and advice on care options and providers

Millennials: age 23-37

Millennials are generally more concerned with flexibility and wellbeing at work, compared to financial benefits. Obesity, sleep deprivation and mental health issues are prevalent in this generation, and many are unsatisfied with their current financial situation.

Possible wellbeing initiatives:

  • Promote awareness around healthy eating through healthy eating apps, and providing healthy eating options

  • Run workshops on how to improve sleep and the importance of good sleep patterns

  • Provide access to a mental health helpline

  • Consider allowing flexible start and finish times, remote working or compressed hours

Generation Z: age 18-22

The first true digital natives. Growing up in the recession and seeing the shrinking middle class and widening income gap has resulted in this generation often craving security and stability. They may also be very health aware and are more likely to seek help for mental health issues than any previous generation.

Possible wellbeing initiatives:

  • Provide access to physical activity, healthy nutrition and education on sleep and alcohol consumption

  • Introduce digital solutions to wellbeing, such as diet and exercise apps

  • Mindfulness sessions, resilience training and access to counselling

  • Financial wellbeing initiatives including education on budgeting, managing debts and pension education

The most successful wellbeing programmes are those that recognise the specific needs and expectations of today’s changing and diverse workforce. Failure to do this can negatively impact engagement and productivity.  

To find out more about the concerns, issues and needs of each generation as well as the specific initiatives your company could introduce, download our full guide on ‘Managing the wellbeing needs of a multigenerational workforce’.

If you’ve recently implemented a multi-generational wellbeing strategy and your company and have any tips or success stories you can share, let us know on Twitter or LinkedIn using #multigenworkforce

Author Profile Picture
Helen Smith

Business Health and Wellbeing Services Provider

Read more from Helen Smith

Get the latest from HRZone.

Subscribe to expert insights on how to create a better workplace for both your business and its people.


Thank you.