A new report, authored jointly by Aon Hewitt, the Futures Company, and the National Business Group on Health, supports an emerging thesis that stress poses the greatest risk to employee well-being.
The study divided the concept of “well-being” into four categories: physical, emotional/mental, financial, and social.
In a survey of 2,320 adults, the most common priority for mental well-being was stress reduction, cited by two-thirds of workers. Similarly, the top priority for physical well-being was getting enough sleep, cited by 70 percent of employees.
Both of those goals are undermined by stressful work environments or inflexible schedules, two issues that researchers at Harvard and Stanford recently suggested were key contributors to negative health conditions among workers. That study floated the idea that corporate wellness programs, which typically focus on getting employees to lose weight through exercise and improved diet or to stop smoking, may not be as effective at reducing health issues (and thus, employer health costs) as an initiative targeted at reducing stress would be.
The Aon Hewitt study showed that the youngest workers are typically the healthiest. Just under 50 percent of millennials reported being overweight or obese, compared to 66 percent of Gen Xers and 71 percent of Baby Boomers.
However, it may not just be youth that is benefiting millennials. They also appear to be more health-conscious. For instance, 53 percent of them said that they worry that unhealthy habits will catch up to them later on, compared to 42 percent of Gen Xers and 31 percent of boomers.
And contrary to tradition, it’s the youngest workers who appear the most concerned about finances, with 61 percent of millennials saying that finances was a source of stress, compared to 53 percent of Gen Xers and 31 percent of boomers. That undoubtedly has something to do with the high levels of student debt that burden young college grads today.
Because of their apparent concerns about staying healthy, millennials were the most likely to say that a wellness program aimed at physical, mental, financial, and social well-being would make an employer more attractive. Fifty-one percent of millennials said that they were more likely to stay with an employer with such a program, compared to 41 percent of members of the other two generations.