For the first time in U.S. history, many businesses have five generations in the same workforce. People are retiring later and switching careers and jobs more often. For employers, being prepared is paramount to meet the diverse expectations each generation has for their health needs. You can help your clients who have businesses meet the diverse expectations of every generation in their workforce.
Understanding all five generations in the workforce
To better understand the needs of each generation, here’s a little more about each:
The Silent Generation consists of workers born before 1946, and although they only account for 2% of the current workforce, they are among the highest users of health care—along with Baby Boomers, who currently make up 25% of the workforce.1 The Boomers were born between 1946 and 1964, and although they didn’t grow up with the internet, they still use it to inform their health care decisions.2
Generation X—born between 1964 and 1980—accounts for 33% of the workforce.1 Gen-Xers are more active in pursuing information about their own health and have more in common with Millennials than with Boomers. When it comes to information, Millennials—born between 1981 and 1996—expect accessibility, as they are the first generation of “digital natives”. They value efficiency and are emotionally driven when it comes to brand loyalty. 35% of the workforce are Millennials, and that number will grow to 74% by 2025. Gen Z—born after 1997—represent 5% of the workforce currently. They may seem like they’re still teenagers, but they’re beginning to make up more and more of the workforce. Gen-Zers are highly tech savvy, but still defer to their parents for most decisions related to their health care.3
Where they get their information
Members of the Silent and Baby Boomer generations are much more likely to trust their providers exclusively about their personal health. More than any other generation, Boomers
value personal relationships with their providers, so coverage with an extensive network of providers is attractive to this generation in particular.4
Unlike the generations before them, Gen-Xers tend to seek out and rely on multiple sources of information to make decisions about their health care. While Millennials are primarily peer-driven rather than expert-driven when seeking advice, Gen-Xers rely on recommendations from traditional sources like primary care providers (PCPs) and social forums that provide peer recommendations.5
What this means for your employer clients: Provide multiple formats and sources of health information for their employees.
How they prefer to receive care
Since the Silent and Baby Boomer generations value the opinions of their providers, they look to them for advice and care more than other generations. Currently, Boomers account for 26% of all doctor visits and 34% of overall prescription usage.6
Gen-Xers also visit the doctor frequently—not just for themselves, but as caretakers for both their parents and children. Millennials, on the other hand, are currently the lowest utilizers of traditional health care in today’s workforce, and only 58% say they trust their PCPs.5 Along with members of Gen Z, Millennials tend to seek out alternative medicine, like dietary supplements, and wearables. Health benefits and offerings including mindfulness, behavioral health, and telemedicine are especially attractive to the younger generations.
What this means for your employer clients: Offer more than one health plan with a range of traditional and alternative benefits.
How they spend their time and money
Baby Boomers value their time and money and put convenience at a premium. Gen-Xers operate as the chief decision makers in their households and are also responsible for the health needs of their aging parents. As a result, convenience and ease are extremely valuable. They shop for health care the same way they shop for retail goods, and they have no time to waste. Personalized offerings are attractive to Gen-Xers with this detail in mind.7
Millennials also expect ease when it comes to making health care decisions, and they appreciate comparison tools to make informed choices. When given a choice of health plans, Millennials are most likely to enroll in a high-deductible health plan (HDHP), according to a 2017 survey conducted by Benefitfocus.7
What this means for your employer clients: Offer a range of health plans with flexible spending options that cater to the needs of all generations.
What they all have in common
Whether they are a part of the Silent Generation or Gen Z, employees in today’s workforce want to feel informed and confident about their health care decisions. Accessible health care for a good value is a priority for workers of every generation.
As a broker, you have a unique opportunity to help educate employers on how they can assess the needs of their workforce and how they can deliver their employees the type of care they need.
At Harvard Pilgrim, we’re continually innovating to provide new offerings and plans to support your clients’ diverse workforce.
1. Fry, R. (2018, April 11). Millennials are the Largest Generation in the U.S. Labor Force. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/04/11/millennials-largest-generation-us-labor-force/
2. Health Trust. (2016, September 7). One Size Doesn’t Fit All: The Challenges of Patient Engagement Across the Generations. https://healthtrustpg.com/professional-development/patient-engagement-across-generations/
3. Sandle, T. (2017, July 6). Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials, Gen Z: healthcare expectations. http://www.digitaljournal.com/life/health/boomers-gen-xers-millennials-gen-z-healthcare-expectations/article/497028
4. The Hartman Group. (2017, October 31). Older Consumers: Redefining Health And Wellness As They Age. https://www.forbes.com/sites/thehartmangroup/2017/10/31/older-consumers-redefining-health-and-wellness-as-they-age/#1cbf95f515fd
5. Tazi, M. (2016, May 23). Millennials Define Health Differently than Other Generations.
6. Geriatric Nursing. (2018). Baby Boomers and Their Effect on Healthcare. https://geriatricnursing.org/baby-boomers-and-their-effect-on-healthcare/
7. Majors, M. (2018, June 17). How to Engage Different Generations with Their Healthcare Benefits. https://www.managedhealthcareexecutive.com/mhe-articles/how-engage-different-generations-their-healthcare-benefits