Today’s workforce demographics consist of multiple generations. From Baby Boomers to the Millennials, there are three very distinct generations that have their own perceptions on health and wellness. HR professionals need to understand the characteristics of each group in order to design a wellness program that caters to all.
The Baby Boomer generation consists of individuals born between 1943 and 1960. Baby boomers are perceived as service-oriented and good team players. They are typically hard working and seek personal growth in their careers.
This generation values nutrition and the benefits against aging that it provides. Possible diseases they face include, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and obesity. Important nutrition topics for this group include:
• Foods to avoid heart disease and diabetes – This topic will help Baby Boomers focus on two major diseases they face as they age.
• Foods to prevent osteoporosis – Baby Boomers who decrease their risk of osteoporosis also greatly reduce their risk of decreased mobility from bone fractures and breaks.
Baby Boomers want to act and feel younger. As their body ages, it’s important for them to support and strengthen their muscle tone. Ideal exercises for this group include:
• Stretching and balancing exercises – These exercises improve muscle tone and help maintain the balance many of us lose as we age.
• Yoga – The original Hippie Generation can relate and enjoy the benefits of both mind and body that yoga provides.
Generation X consists of individuals born between 1960 and 1980. Many see this generation as cynical, pessimistic, and questioning of authority. They tend to be pragmatic, self-reliant, and global-thinking.
Generation Xers grew up on on-the-go, processed foods. As a result, many did not have very good eating habits, even as adults. As this group hits middle age and takes on full adulthood responsibilities, many find themselves busy and out of shape. Generation Xers would value the following nutrition topics:
• Food Pyramid Basics – This topic can help the group learn the basics of a healthy, balanced diet.
• Quick and healthy meals – This topic can help this generation learn to prepare healthy meals for themselves and their families.
Generation Xers understand the importance of fitness as they start to age, and lose the high metabolism they once had. Home life demands have reduced their personal time, and the physical activity they were once accustomed to. This group would enjoy the following exercises:
• Weight training – This will help Generation Xers regain and maintain the youthful body they once had.
• Kick Boxing/Zumba – This group enjoys energetic programs and sports activity. These exercises will help them take the initial steps in preventing heart disease.
Millennials (Generation Y)
The Millennials consists of individuals born between 1980 and 2000. They’ve grown up in a world of technology and convenience, and expect the same in their workplace. They’re seen as optimistic, multi-tasking, and prefer structure in their work.
This group is interested in foods that provide them with energy and immunity. As an Internet generation, this group constantly seeks more knowledge on health and nutrition. Some topics they would enjoy include:
• Energy boosting foods – Millennials enjoy many activities and interests. They are always seeking ways to refuel their energy.
• Foods to reduce stress – This group is prone to depression. Reducing stress in their lives helps them regain the emotional balance they need to face the new responsibilities of adulthood.
Millennials are open to trying exercise programs that energize and reduce their stress levels. Ideal exercises for them include:
• Yoga – This exercise will help Millennials reduce stress and provide them with the holistic wellbeing they crave.
• Zumba – This group enjoys the high energy and fun moves of Zumba.
The bottom line
A multigenerational workforce can often provide challenges in your wellness program. Understanding the mindset and perceptions of each group is key in keeping them engaged in your program. HR professionals are encouraged to provide a variety of nutrition and fitness topics that will appeal to the challenges each group faces in their home and work life.