Workplace wellbeing across the generations

15 September 2022

What does workplace wellbeing mean to you? We all recognise the benefits of being happy and healthy at work, but what we need to achieve that often depends on when we grew up and where we are in our lives; in other words, it depends on our generation.

In some businesses, there are currently five generations in the workforce, each with its own set of characteristics and values, affecting how they behave both in and outside of the workplace.

These generations are:

  • Silent Generation (born between 1925 and 1945)
  • Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964)
  • Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980)
  • Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996)
  • Generation Z (born between 1997 and 2012)

This is a challenge for employers, as it means their benefits programmes must meet the wellbeing needs of a wide range of different types of people.

Here, we take a closer look at what makes workers from different generations tick and offer some suggestions how to provide what they need to achieve a high level of workplace wellbeing.

Silent generation

Key traits: industrious and loyal

While most people aged over 76 have taken retirement, there are still some members of the so-called Silent Generation in the workforce.

This generation's main traits include loyalty and a willingness to follow the rules. On the downside, however, they can also be resistant to change.

Issues they are likely to be facing outside work include health problems such as heart conditions and visual or hearing impairments. They are also more likely to be dealing with bereavement and loneliness than colleagues from younger generations.

Did you know?

"Silent Generation" is thought by some to be a reference to these individuals being taught as children that they should be "seen and not heard".

Workplace wellbeing priorities

  • Healthcare benefits such as discounted sight/hearing tests.
  • Access to Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) bereavement services and counselling.
  • Traditional performance-based rewards (e.g., paid-for lunches and after-work drinks).

Baby boomers

Key traits: competitive and focused

Baby Boomers tend to prefer a structured working environment. However, they will challenge the rules if they feel there is a better way of doing things.

From a wellbeing point of view, meanwhile, they often see their career as a pillar of their self-worth.

But they're also at a point where they may well already have some chronic health problems and are probably concerned about developing more.

When it comes to mental health, Baby Boomers often suffer with symptoms such as anxiety and insomnia but are less likely to seek help for these issues than their younger colleagues.

Did you know?

Despite being relatively well off, Baby Boomers are reportedly the unhappiest generation in the UK today1.

Workplace wellbeing priorities

  • Regular health assessments to spot any developing conditions as early as possible.
  • Access to confidential counselling and mental health helplines.
  • Programmes to help them stay on form, such as gym membership and cycle to work schemes.

Generation X

Key traits: work hard and play hard

Generation Xers are generally considered independent, resourceful, and self-sufficient. Members of this generation value freedom and responsibility in the workplace, see change as an opportunity, and tend to have a work hard/play hard approach to life. But while good at delivering results, they don't tend to place so much importance on their careers as older colleagues.

This generation is also the most likely to be juggling caring responsibilities for both children and parents, which can lead to financial, emotional, and time-pressure stress.

Did you know?

There are close to 14 million Gen Xers in the UK today, according to figures from Statista2.

Workplace wellbeing priorities

  • Flexible working policies that give them the freedom to care for children and elderly relatives.
  • Information and benefits that help to cut the cost of childcare.
  • Programmes that prioritise a good work-life balance, such as self-care days and a policy of encouraging regular breaks.


Key traits: ambitious and adaptable

Millennials want their jobs to have meaning and purpose and are happy to switch employers if they feel they are not getting an opportunity to add value.

They tend to have more fluid work styles and - particularly in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic - are likely to embrace the freedom offered by working from home.

Physically, Millennials tend to be in good shape. But financially and emotionally, they are more likely to be struggling.

Did you know?

Half of Millennials feel stressed most of, or all, the time, a recent study from Deloitte suggests.3.

Workplace wellbeing priorities

  • Financial education and Employee Share Schemes designed to help them attain financial goals such as buying their first home.
  • Career development schemes that add a sense of purpose to their day-to-day roles.
  • Remote and hybrid working opportunities.

Generation Z

Key traits: tech savvy and independent

Members of Generation Z are just starting out on their careers. As such, they are keen to follow direction, but they welcome change and want to feel they have a voice and are not simply being told what to do.

They want to work for a company that has a positive impact on society, and they need help managing work-related stress, which many of them suffer with, partly due to experiencing a global pandemic so early in their careers.

They are also more likely to engage with digital wellbeing solutions than members of any previous generation.

Did you know?

Generation Z now accounts for around 15% of the UK population, according to research by Mintel.4.

Workplace wellbeing priorities

  • Career development programmes offering close contact with senior colleagues, such as mentoring schemes.
  • 24/7 digital access to mental health support such as counselling, resilience training, and mindfulness sessions.
  • Initiatives to improve social responsibility within the organisation.