A study from MetLife reveals that just over half (51 per cent) of the ‘younger workforce’ in their 20s (Gen Z and millennials) feel that their work-life balance is better now than before the pandemic, thanks to the working from home setup. However, only 25 per cent of baby boomers agree with this line of thought.
The data comes from MetLife’s 19th annual employee benefit trends study, which aims to understand how employers can cater to the needs of their diverse employees in a post-pandemic world, and it seems that, by and large, the younger generation has adapted better to home-working. That being said, employees across all generations agree that the pandemic has caused a decline in their physical, mental, social and financial wellbeing.
Improved family time versus a lack of workplace interactions
For baby boomers, it’s the social aspect of the pandemic that they are struggling with the most. MetLife’s study reveals that one-third of boomers are struggling to set boundaries at work, and 42 per cent deeply miss the casual office interactions of the workplace. On the other hand, 40 per cent of younger workers say being able to spend time with their family has improved their overall work-life balance; and 30 per cent of younger workers also note that relocating to a better area is also why their work-life balance has improved.
Hospitals & Healthcare muses that these disparities can probably be attributed to many different factors – being able to move house or have a change of scene is easier to do when you’re less likely to have a mortgage, for example – there are many freedoms that come with being a younger member of society (although there are downsides too, obviously). And younger generations are more likely to have grown up with messaging and video calls being a normal part of their everyday life; whereas those in the boomer generation will have already spent much of their working life in an office environment.
Health and wellness needs to be further prioritised
Further to this, when it comes to holiday, 36 per cent of younger employees included in MetLife’s study said they took more paid time off this year. Only eight per cent of boomers said they took time off to improve their health.
No doubt a difference in levels of seniority probably pays a large part in this disparity (which again likely correlates with age), with many in senior positions feeling the increased weight of responsibility over the last 12 months, as do perceptions around mental health.
Obviously, there is still a continued need to open up the discussion around mental health and importance of supportive workplace environments, and this can be assisted by relevant employee benefits offerings such as access to remote therapy sessions, mindfulness apps, and healthy eating and exercise initiatives.
The importance of tailored benefits plans
“One of the key learnings from our study this year is the realisation that now more than ever, employers must both recognise and cater to the differences in employees’ needs, because doing so will be key in addressing and improving employee wellbeing,” said Missy Plohr-Memming, Senior Vice-President of Group Benefits at MetLife. “To ensure they’re addressing their employees’ wellbeing concerns, employers need to consider these diverse generational needs both with respect to workplace flexibility and also as it relates to benefits.”
Coincidentally (or not), MetLife’s research also highlighted that employees across multiple generations are 42 per cent more likely to remain with an employer if the company offers benefits that meet their needs. And two in five employees say their employer isn’t offering benefits or programmes that support their wellbeing during the pandemic.
It sounds like it’s time for employers to up their benefits game, and it will be much easier for them to do so by signing up to international private medical insurance providers that offer tailored benefits solutions. Just like this new tool launched by Generali Employee Benefits Network that allows organisations to design their own employee benefits solutions.