Assistant Editor, Safety & Health Practitioner

August 1, 2019

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Wellbeing

What do ‘snowflakes’ and ‘baby boomers’ expect from their employers?

Nichola Ebbern, Associate Director at Capita Real Estate and Infrastructure, held a seminar in the Wellbeing Theatre at Safety & Health Expo 2019. She focused on how organisations can balance the mental and physical wellbeing of their employees.

Nichola EbbernThe wellbeing of employees can be a difficult thing for employers to fathom, but according to Nichola, simplifying it by looking at an individual as a whole person as well as identifying patterns in their generation, can help organisations create a better wellbeing package for their staff.

Key areas such as mental health, emotional wellbeing, physical health and finally the employee’s financial security and their financial goals, should all be carefully considered. Physical health, in particular, was an area she touched on, especially checking symptoms for muscularskeletal symptoms, which has been a challenge in the workplace, particularly for office workers and drivers.

In addition to looking at the key areas to consider, Nichola highlighted that there are five generations that an employer could cater for, including:

  • Silent Generation. They are employees from pre-end of WWII, who may still be in work because they can’t fully retire for financial reasons.
  • Baby Boomers. They tend to require a flexible work policy as they can be carers for children and parents at home.
  • Generation X. They are more likely to be interested in a work and life balance.
  • Generation Y. They can be tech savvy. Nichola suggested that they look for experience and what they can do to give back rather than money focused.
  • Generation Z. The snowflake generation.

Whilst there are similarities in themes of the wellbeing of all five generations, Nichola also spoke about their differences. For instance, in financial differences, the older generations aim to save more of their income, to improve retirement whereas the younger generations save for things like properties, cars and how they can maximise their savings for a deposit. Employers can offer different kind of advice once establishing their financial goal.

Though fatigue and sleep hygiene can be common amongst all, Nichola advised that employers should focus on the different factors that cause each generation to lose sleep. For example, recognising that the older the employee, the harder it is for them to fall and stay asleep.

For the younger generations, it is more to do with their social life and how it can overlap with their sleeping schedules, such as staring at blue screen late at night whilst being on social media, attending late-night events and the use of alcohol. If fatigue is an issue for an employee, then the employer could look at these suggestions and offer advice based on that.

But in addition to establishing the similarities and differences between each generation, Nichola says that “the key thing to remember is that everyone is an individual” she added, “not everyone, even within a generation is the same and has the same needs and requirements, which is why a multi-disciplinary approach works so well”.

Offering specific advice or solutions to an employee rather than a ‘one fits all’ approach will improve the wellbeing package of an organisation as a whole. “I believe, as a result, workplace wellbeing services should be a shopping list. Yes, that will include a core selection of things which should be provided to everyone. But there should be a selection of other items, from which employees should be able to pick what is most suited to them,” said Nichola.

Other things that organisations can do to improve the wellbeing of their company is ensuring that Managers are knowledgeable in the role they play within wellbeing, by training them and developing their interpersonal skills to communicate with staff and create an open environment. Organisations can also integrate technology, so that employees can find it easy to access information to present wellbeing package in the best way. Giving generation appropriate communication as discussed above, or by external programmes such as YAMA. Keeping data to quantify, investigate and review important information.

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