Millennials - How do we engage them in the workplace?

14 December 2018

No one can dispute the importance of eating right, living healthily, and staying in shape. Each generation for the past few decades had a different take on how to do this and today’s millennials are no exception. Currently, the most influential group of customers in the wellness space, millennials are dictating trends in healthy eating, physical and mental wellness. A study by Eventbrite, which surveyed more than 1000 men and women aged between 21 and 37, claims that healthy living is on the rise, as millennials swap alcohol-fuelled socialising for cold-pressed juices and wellness festivals.

“Because millennials are more paranoid about their health, they’re more concerned with fitness and clean eating and living a wholesome life,” explained journalist and report contributor Nichi Hodgson. 

“What’s driving the health consciousness?” she added, “The democratisation of fitness that the internet has promoted. There are so many fitness apps now, everyone can have a personal trainer in their pocket,” With their brisk but thorough exercises, High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) programmes by trainers such as Kayla Itsines and Shaun T have gained huge popularity amongst the busy, career-focused millennials who have barely 30 minutes a day to spare for a workout. There has also been a proliferation of apps which track calorie count and nutrition intake on a daily basis. To feel a sense of accomplishment, millennials are tracking their progress and comparing it with their peers on social media, making the experience even more engaging.

“To promote engagement within the company and encourage healthy competition, employers can organise year-long competitions to track fitness progress. The longer duration also ensures that new healthy habits are adopted and committed to. Initiatives like these help to lower medical costs in the long run as employees get stronger and more resistant to viruses like the flu bug.” Pete Whittington, Regional Director, JLT Benefits Solutions (Asia).

According to the Eventbrite report, the average millennial also participates in one fitness class a month, and when it comes to going out, respondents said they visited at least one food festival per year, while 16% had been to at least one wellness event over the last twelve months.

The rise in popularity of wellness festivals such as Be:FIT and Balance in the UK, Fitness Festival in Singapore and IRIS Festival in Hong Kong among others, highlights the demand for an alternative to the unhealthy practices typically ssociated with festivals. Even music festivals are getting in on the act.

“At Wilderness, you can book a spa or a Neal’s Yard massage. Citadel offers yoga, massages, as well as things that are a bit more mentally stimulating,” explained Head of Operations for Lovebox & Citadel Festivals and report contributor, Jools Butterfield. At The Music Run, held in multiple markets across Asia, yoga is offered throughout the event programme, while Wonderfruit in Thailand is the perfect example of an immersive wellness experience combined with music, crafts and activities.

Practising mindfulness is also gaining popularity amongst millennials who are trying to counter numerous daily distractions and white noise. An increasing number of gym trainers have started to incorporate breathing exercises and meditation into their routines and alternative treatments like floatation therapy have started to sprout up in neighbourhoods with a high concentration of millennial residents.

Drinking habits have also changed. While having a round of drinks after work hours is still considered a popular social activity, an increase in health consciousness and a huge variety of after-work activities to participate in, millennials are spending less time in bars and pubs.

“I think employers can no longer rely on happy hour to encourage bonding across generations. To encourage cross-generational interaction outside the work environment, HR teams need to adopt a more holistic approach like running clubs, charity outreach or maybe even engaging a yoga trainer and converting a meeting room into a makeshift studio on a weekly basis.” Kabita Karthigeyan, Head of JLT Benefits Solutions (Singapore).

With travel becoming more affordable and the fear of missing out (FOMO) more prevalent, millennials are taking every opportunity to travel all over the world and share their experiences on social media platforms like Instagram. However, instead of visiting the usual tourist sites, millennials are increasingly shifting towards getting a localised experience through homestays and participating in activities like cooking classes conducted by locals. “Immersive experiences are bonding people as much as drink and drugs used to do. If it’s not Instagrammable, it’s not worth going to,” Hodgson commented.

“Instead of offering a one-size-fits-all type employee benefits programme, employers need to consider how different types of benefits appeal to people in various phases of life. With the millennial generation, a large proportion of them have decided to settle down later and prefer to have benefits which subsidise fitness activities, travel and maybe even further education. At JLT, we help our clients ensure that the employee benefits programmes implemented are flexible and able to appeal to a appeal to a wide variety of lifestyle choices.” Richard Roper, Head of JLT Benefits Solutions (Asia).

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JLT specialises in providing employee benefits consultancy, insurance placement, health and wellness services to our corporate clients around the world. Our services range from a simple life cover in a single country to designing and implementing a global employee benefits strategy. Our focus is to help our clients manage and reduce their healthcare costs, attract and retain employees and increase productivity by creating a healthier and happier workforce.

If you would like to learn more about our services, please contact Richard Roper, Managing Director, Employee Benefits (Asia).