Millennial, Gen Z Employees Push for a More Holistic Benefits Approach

Millennial, Gen Z Employees Push for a More Holistic Benefits Approach

Lauren Ankeles
February 6, 2020

When employees feel supported as individuals, they are far more engaged. According to Metlife’s 17th Annual US Employee Benefits Trends Study, 89% of employees want an employer that respects their out-of-work lives, and 75% of employers agree. Employee wellness is multifaceted — emotional, social, physical, and fiscal health are all related — and holistic health and wellness programs combine more aspects of employees’ lives to improve total health. But like all good things, there’s a catch, especially with millennial and Generation Z employees.

WellTok reports 85% of millennial employees would participate in wellness programs if their employer provided more relevant support. For holistic wellness to have a positive impact with younger employees, offerings need to be flexible and feel personal. These asks are becoming more and more popular among millennial and Gen Z employees. So here’s what you need to know about holistic benefits, how to personalize your benefits programs, and why you should personalize your holistic benefits to better fit to your employee needs.  

How Holistic Benefits Benefit Everyone 

When employers invest in more robust, holistic wellness offerings, employee well-being rises. So what benefits are these more recent generations clamoring for? According to the Business Group on Health (NBGH), younger employees are increasingly looking for behavioral health services at more convenient locations, more in the ways of financial health support, and more opportunities to take paid time off to volunteer in the surrounding community. 

Holistic programs can cover a wide range of perks, including onsite preventative healthcare, continued career education, financial health assistance, mental health and substance abuse support, retirement budgeting and money management, volunteer opportunities, and community activities among other perks. And 6 in 10 employees at companies with holistic wellness report their wellbeing as excellent to very good. For companies with more traditional wellness offerings, that number drops to 43%. 

          Access to individualized benefits is a huge loyalty booster, as well. According to MetLife, the majority of employees report that having benefits customized to meet their needs would increase their loyalty to their employer. In addition, 60% of employees say they would be interested in a wider array of these less traditional benefits, even if they have to cover some of the costs themselves, making it that much easier for benefits managers to scale program cost and customize holistic offerings. 

Onsite holistic wellness offerings — like dental cleanings, vision exams, and other preventative healthcare — can help reduce potential downstream medical costs for both employees and employers. In addition, millennials and Gen Z employees love the convenience of tackling these time-consuming tasks efficiently. The biggest thing to keep in mind is your employees: what do they actually want?

Personalized, Purposeful Programs

While holistic benefits are definitely becoming more trendy in the benefits management industry, they’re often underutilized if applied without any strategy. Two main reasons: education about benefit access and trust in company intentions. 

Educating employees about holistic benefits takes on many forms, from new hire onboarding to email messages to company-wide meetings, and regular communication about benefits should be an ongoing practice for benefits managers. Some holistic wellness services, even provide out-of-the-box communication plans to help spread the word and will help you customize messaging based on your employees’ needs and interests. 

A key thing to avoid in your messaging is sounding insincere, because younger employees are increasingly suspicious if things don’t add up. If employees don’t feel holistic programs are adding value to their lives, they tend to sit out or even become suspicious of the company culture.  An article in the Harvard Business Review emphasizes the dangers of “talking the talk” without “walking the walk.”  Offering wellness perks to help employees deal with workplace stress, while still expecting long work hours and high performance can seem to employees like “indulgent bribes to make up for the demanding expectations.” So, if your communications highlight the convenience of getting your preventative dental cleanings done at work, and how important oral health is to overall health, then you should also be sure that supervisors are arranging work schedules so that employees can participate without being seen as shirking work responsibilities.  

Another important strategy to earn trust and buy-in from your employees is to get their input! The biggest caveat to holistic benefits is that some employees can feel like they’ve been offered irrelevant resources to meet their needs. Including employee feedback every step of the way can help your programs feel personal, targeted, and catered to their actual lives. 

Company-wide surveys are a great start to poll existing employees about holistic benefits that capture their attention, but you should actively look for more opportunities to get their feedback. Include employees in benefits vetting groups, invite them to demos and trial runs, get feedback after appointment sessions, and be sure to encourage all employees to bring their own suggestions to you. At the end of the day, including holistic wellness can be a tonal shift for a company, but your biggest asset, as always, is your people. Keeping employees actively involved in the process is the best way to keep everyone happy and healthy.  

Lauren Ankeles joined Virtudent to drive change in oral healthcare and make a tangible impact on the quality of people’s lives. As a Vice President and General Manager, Lauren is responsible for the continued growth of Virtudent’s New York regional market, including New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. 

Prior to Virtudent, Lauren had a broad, diversified healthcare career, most recently as the director of strategy and operations for Syneos Health’s Communications business. Previously, she worked with The Chartis Group advising hospitals and healthcare systems on strategy, as well as with New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Boston Scientific’s Cardiac Rhythm Management group, and as a consultant with Monitor Group (now part of Deloitte).

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