What’s in a name? In recent times, the convenience of using the word ‘generation’ to define specific demographic groups has gathered pace. Here’s a rough guide: ‘Generation X’ is normally used to describe those born between 1965 and 1976, while those born between 1977 and 1995 are ‘Generation Y’, better known as ‘Millennials’. For younger people, ‘Generation Rent’ is frequently used to describe younger workers unable to step on the UK housing ladder. Then we have the ‘Sandwich Generation’ which covers older workers between 45 and 60 who care for elderly parents while looking after young children. Finally, there are older workers, mainly Baby Boomers.
Research by GRiD (Group Risk Development) 1 narrowed the field to three of these generations: Millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers to investigate employer concerns about different groups of workers.
What businesses believe affects each generation the most
24 - 42
· 51% - stress and anxiety related to finance and debt
· 38% - stress and anxiety related to work
43 - 54
· 40% - stress and anxiety related to home life
· 37% - ill health related to lifestyle
55 - 73
· 41% - living with long-term chronic illness or health conditions
Millennials: managing mental health issues
First, let’s consider Millennials, or ‘Generation Y’, the UK’s first generation to take GCSE examinations. Born between 1977 and 1995, some of the older employees were at primary school when Tim-Berners Lee invented the World Wide Web. Today this tech-savvy generation faces the combined pressures of student debt, financing home ownership and developing a career.
Living at a time when mental health issues – including stress, depression or anxiety – account for over half of all UK workdays lost to ill health 2, Millennials are in a good position to benefit from the additional expertise many insurers offer as non-contractual benefits with group protection policies, such as rehabilitation services and help through employee assistance programmes (EAPs). It’s here that health and wellbeing apps can help, too. These aim to track and improve an employee’s health by managing specific conditions and fitness priorities. This can help them make informed decisions about issues such as losing weight, sleeping better, lowering stress levels, or simply being more active.
Generation X: group protection offers potential solutions
Born between 1965 and 1976, in full-time education until age 16, taking CSEs and/or GCE ‘O’ Level qualifications, these employees discover that with middle age comes big responsibilities: mortgages; family commitments; and pension planning. Although the research shows that this generation can also face mental health issues, it’s here that ill health is more likely to strike, and where group protection can offer benefits in different ways. For example, group income protection provides financial assistance for employees who are unable to work due to illness and is a first line of defence against lost income. It also provides fast access to counselling and an EAP (for help and advice around home and family issues) plus help with taking steps towards improving health for those who are facing ill-health conditions related to lifestyle.
Although financial and emotional assistance is crucial, group protection policies can come with support services which do a lot of the heavy lifting for the employer too, such as bespoke rehabilitation services to support an employee when they are ready to return to work following treatment and recovery. For Generation X, also under pressure from financial commitments, group protection can provide an unexpected lifeline.
Baby Boomers: older workers value group protection benefits, too
Born between 1946 and 1964, the more senior people of this generation left school at 15 to watch Sean Connery as James Bond at the cinema or experience The Who performing ‘My Generation’ at a local ballroom. Many of these people – including The Who – are still working, a significant shift which shows few signs of slowing down. As the 2011 Census 3 noted, the proportion of those aged 65-74 who were economically active in 2011 (16%) was almost double that in 2001 (8.7%).
The GRiD research revealed that employers are concerned about the long-term health issues older workers face, and with good reason: many Baby Boomers possess invaluable specialist skills. As these workers grow older, the focus is on conditions such as respiratory disease and cancer. It’s here where the benefits provided by critical illness cover can be particularly relevant. The support provided by rehabilitation services, particularly for cancer, can be invaluable.
To sum up, each workforce is different. They span different generations and demographic groups. The common factor is that group protection has the potential to provide benefits for all these employees.
Eddie Elias-Kean, Aviva Group Protection Senior Account Manager is experienced in overseeing the relationships and successful end to end support of some of Aviva’s largest intermediary partners.