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Wellness Strategies for the Baby Boomer Workplace

GWEN SNYDER
HNI Account Executive 

Baby boomers have unique wellbeing needs, and as long as they're part of the workforce, it'sbaby boomer wellness strategies up to employers to offer wellness strategies customized for this mature population. Their wellbeing is more than blood pressure and weight management. Boomers also need programs to address fiscal health and the health of family members, especially their elderly parents.

The following three wellness strategies for your boomer employees could make a difference in many areas of their wellbeing. Start a dialog with your workforce about what programs they'd like to see get off the ground!

1.) Tweak Small Things to Improve Physical Comfort

Let's start with strategies to improve physical wellbeing. For aging bodies, repetitive actions often lead to muscle strain and minor injury, which could lead to work comp claims. More often, though, boomer employees continue to work under these conditions, but soreness and irritation cause lower productivity.

Consider workplace ergonomics to ease the irritation of repetitive movement. With ergonomics, you are designing a job around the capabilities of your workers. Observe which tasks employees are doing over and over again. Chances are that minor tweaks here and there could ease muscle stress and fatigue. For instance, adding a cushion in front of a computer keyboard will ease wrist strain, and replacing old chairs with seating that supports good posture will reduce back pain.

2.) Marry Fiscal Health and Health Care Costs

While new employees and recent grads long for career development opportunities and help with choosing a benefits plan, baby boomers want information on preparing for retirement and minimizing increasing health care costs. And these health statuses weave together.

Boomers may consider a more conservative approach to their savings programs. Because they have fewer working years left than their younger co-workers (and consequently fewer years for fiscal recovery, should their portfolio take a hit), they may want to be more risk averse.

Minimizing health care costs will stretch retirement savings. Pair healthful practices (see tip No. 1) with thoughtful consumption of health care. Comparing the cost of treatments and staying in network are practices that will save boomers (and their employers) money in the long run.

3.) Make It a Family Affair

Boomers are aging, and so are their parents. Your boomer employees now may be facing tough decisions about care for their elderly family members. This can be a huge strain on their emotional and fiscal wellbeing, creating stress as a nasty side effect. Employers can support boomers who are caregivers with programs, such as in-home nursing care or flex time. When employers subsidize some of these benefits, boomer employees are likely to be less stressed and more productive.

Wellness programs can be added to the other end of the family spectrum, too. Dependents of boomers also may benefit from, for example, a 24-hour nurse line or discounts on fitness classes. Health-focused initiatives could improve the wellbeing of a boomer and her entire family!

Staying Compliant with Wellness Programs

Although it is important to recognize the unique wellbeing needs of boomers, workforce discrimination laws put you at risk when implementing age-related wellness strategies. But there are many ways you can satisfy this generation while remaining compliant. For example, when testing ideas like phased retirement or training slanted toward a certain age demographic, it’s important to also offer other options for the employees that do not fit in a specific category.

The most important thing to remember is that each workforce is unique. Communicating benefits to your boomer employees is critical for maximum participation and effectiveness!How have you customized for boomer employees? Please share below in comments!

 

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Photo by PhylB via Flickr

Topics: Construction Transportation Manufacturing HR / Employee Benefits