The UK’s workforce encompasses a multi-generational demographic with five generations:

Traditionalists: Born between 1928-1945

Often referred to as the silent generation, traditionalists represent the smallest percentage of the UK working population. Some people within this bracket work out of necessity due to financial instability and the need for a regular income outside of their pension, whilst others opt to remain working for their social wellbeing. Regardless of the reasons why this generation remains in employment, traditionalists tend to possess a strong worth ethic and have a unique set of values and experiences they bring to the workplace. Often dedicated and loyal, they value community and are good team players, offering support and advice to those around them. They are respectful, resourceful and grateful for the opportunity to still be making a difference in their business. Traditionalists take pride in a job well done.

Baby Boomers: Born between 1946-1964

Baby Boomers account for 3.71 million workers and have similar characteristics to that of traditionalists in the sense that they value responsibility, are disciplined, respectful of authority and often prefer to work in more traditional environments. Non-confrontational, baby boomers often approach decision making with a considered and logical mindset, opposed to a more emotionally led response. Research by Career Builder reported that on average, they spend 8.3 years in the same job, however it’s not unusual to hear of a baby boomer staying with an employer for over 20 years. Commonly competitive by nature, they place a high amount of importance on their career achievements and take great pride in their hard work to get there. Despite being near or at retirement age, there is a growing trend of baby boomers actively choosing to continue working because they enjoy it – this ethos combined with the knowledge and experience they can share throughout a workforce makes baby boomers an asset to any company.

Generation X (aka Gen-X): Born between 1965-1980

Gen X, sometimes deemed the ‘middle child’ or ‘forgotten’ generation, grew up during a time where divorce rates were rising, resulting in single parent households, and equally, where the expectation of one parent staying at home whilst the other worked, was rapidly diminishing. Thus the need for them to be self-sufficient was far greater than seen in previous generations. In addition, Gen X were raised in an era of social and cultural change as well as technological advancements. As such, X’ers are generally not change averse, adaptable, resourceful and very independent. Whilst not digital natives, they are tech savvy, embracing traditional and digital methods in both their professional and personal life. They curate good working relationships and are often creative thinkers and results driven. Second in size to millennials, Gen X accounts for circa 11.4 million working aged people and are in the prime of their career.

The first generation to have a focus on work-life balance, they highly value flexible working arrangements and, as a workforce with varying financial responsibilities, from saving to support the future education of their children, to factoring in costs associated with caring responsibilities for their parents, remuneration and benefits is also high on their list.

Generation Y (aka Millennials): Born between 1981-1996

Millennials represent the largest generation of the UK workforce at 12.2 million. The first generation to witness the rise of the internet and social media, millennials are often more socially aware than previous generations, a characteristic that has flowed into their work as they seek employment within a business that focuses on its people and culture and those with a purpose that strongly aligns with their own. A recent survey reported that 89% of people said that having a sense of purpose is very or somewhat important to their overall job satisfaction and well-being. A generation that crave greater flexibility than their Gen X counterparts, work/life balance remains a top consideration for millennials when choosing an employer. Millennials value their relationship with their employer and appreciate a culture where they can go to their superiors for advice and guidance. They are open and adaptative to change, and generally very passionate about learning and developing their skills to enhance their career progression. These qualities combined with their creative and collaborative nature are an asset to any organisation.

Millennials are the  generation that experts feel are more heavily impacted than others following COVID and the ongoing cost of living, with a high proportion of people citing financial hardship and burnout as the main contributors affecting their wellbeing. Something for employers to be mindful of when looking at how they can support their employees.

Generation Z (aka Gen-Z): Born from 1997-2012

With an estimated 4.3m people employed within the Gen Z bracket, this generation is a rapidly growing proportion of the UK workforce and a demographic like no other before them. They are the first generation to grow up as ‘digital natives’, with the internet so deeply integrated into their daily lives. They have an online ecosystem that informs and influences their personal and professional choices – it’s there go-to information source. The Gen Z population are far more focused on ‘people and the planet’, with a strong connection to sustainability, diversity, equity & inclusion, and wellbeing. In fact, these areas are key drivers to their career decisions. Recent research reported that a third of Gen Z workers rejected job offers based on a company’s poor green credentials, 83% said they consider an employer’s commitment to diversity & inclusion when deciding where to work, and 51% are more likely to prioritise health and wellbeing over work, listing positive culture, mental health and wellbeing benefits and a sense of purpose as their top three priorities

Gen Z are an entrepreneurial generation with strong personal values. Unafraid to challenge, they expect to have their thoughts and ideas heard and seek trust and support from their line manager. Similar to millennials, they are a population that are not risk averse, adaptable and have strong career aspirations. Gen Z are highly motivated and often seek roles that provide the opportunity to be creative, to learn, to lead and to deliver change. They want to know what they’re doing is making a difference.

So how do businesses cater for all?

With such talent and diversity in the workplace, it is critical that employers truly understand the makeup of their people and how to support them throughout their varying life stages.

Consider what makes each employee tick and find out what’s important to them. Is it social wellbeing, environmental issues and wanting to be a part of the change, or perhaps saving for later life or financial advice to help with mortgage planning? Do people have caring responsibilities, want menopause support, the ability to access healthcare? These are just a few areas to consider, but what is clear is that a one size fits all approach will not deliver results.

It’s not easy to get the right wellbeing strategy in place. It can be a labour and time intensive exercise, however one that is worth the investment. A successful employee wellbeing & benefits  programme positively impacts staff retention, talent attraction, absence rates, motivation and morale, and employee engagement – all of which leads to greater productivity, performance culture and employee lifetime value.

Don’t be afraid to seek support.

There are intermediaries who can assist organisations with their wellbeing strategy. However historically, intermediaries in this space have tended to lose sight of the client needs, focusing purely on product and allowing commercial interests to overshadow client service, choice and influencing insurance distribution and placement.

As an insurance advisor for over 20 years, I have been campaigning and championing for a more client-focused collaborative approach that leverages technological advancements and promotes greater staff engagement and equality to support businesses in their pursuit for a more engaged and healthier workforce.

Our approach has the same ingredients but begins and centres around engaging with employers and employees to understand their unique needs and risks. This insight informs the design of a tailored benefits programme that resonates with a diverse workforce spanning multiple generations and with different health and wellbeing motivators. The fact that employees are involved in the process fosters better understanding and engagement.

Not all workplace wellbeing strategies are successful and few can be tangibly measured. Our wellbeing workshop initiative changes that and provides a way to track and monitor improvements, but also identify and mitigate new risks as they become evident. This is not an approach that simply focuses on providing insurance coverage – It’s a strategic partnership where we embark on a journey to improve the health and wellbeing of your workplace.

For further information on employee health and wellbeing, our free employee wellbeing workshops, or to discuss how we may be able to support your business and your workforce, please get in touch via 07955 272 023 or email healthandwellbeing@adlerfairways.co.uk.

Download information on our free wellbeing workshops

Source: UK employment figures by generation https://www.statista.com/statistics/1393584/employment-figures-uk-by-generation/

Steve Hope
Steve Hope
Health & Wellbeing Director at Adler Fairways

With over two decades of experience working in the employee benefits and health & protection insurance industry, Steve has extensive knowledge of the market and a passion for providing a professional yet personalised service. Delivering advice that makes a difference, tailored to customers' specific needs.