Business Group Blog

Health and Well-being Across Generations

"Generation Gap" by Joi Ito via Flickr 

In today’s workplace, more generations are working side-by-side than ever before, with the largest portion of the U.S. labor force made up of millennials (34%), Generation X (34%) and baby boomers (29%).1 To best support the needs of a multigenerational workforce, employers should consider taking a refreshed look at how they develop benefits and programs, with an eye to what is most important to employees at each life stage.

Employees beginning their careers often have different needs and desires than employees transitioning into retirement. For instance, it’s been well established that millennials have distinct preferences and expectations when it comes to what they look for in an employer of choice. What employers might be surprised to know, however, is that adults age 18-26 have the highest rates of smoking among all generations and that suicide is one of the leading causes of death among millennials.2,3

Source: Pew Research Center

To further illustrate the differences and needs among generations, many female Gen Xers are delaying having children, in large part to focus on their careers. 4,5And while data show that there are numerous benefits associated with delaying children – first-time moms aged 35 or older are generally better educated and more likely to have higher incomes than those at the youngest reproductive ages – waiting to having children also decreases the likelihood of natural conception. 4

Baby boomers have many of the characteristics that employers might assume about this generation: Boomers are concerned about saving for the future, are interested in retirement planning resources and many are grappling with chronic health conditions. 6,7 What employers may not realize is that a majority of baby boomers plan to work at least part-time in retirement and most (94%) would like to have some type of special work arrangement, such as flexible work hours or telecommuting. 8

To learn more about the health and well-being characteristics of millennials, Generation Xers and baby boomers, as well new or notable benefits that may be meaningful to each generation, see Considerations for Health and Well-being Across Generations: Benefits, Programs and Engagement Strategies .