Millennials are notorious for their passion for social problems, technology and, most importantly, health. More than any other generation, millennials are spending a large majority of their money on gym memberships, health food, and natural products.
In a recent NPR article, Christianna Silva discusses how millennials are spending twice as much money than baby boomers on personal self care. Silva suggests that because of the free and easy access to information that the Internet provides, millennials are taking advantage of the ability to self-educate themselves on self-improvement. Much of the obsession, Silva notes, comes from social media, as it is easy for people to find themselves comparing themselves to what they see on Instagram or Snapchat. This leads people to want to change the way they look, the way they eat or really just the way they live.
There is an argument that the millennial obsession with self-care is narcissistic, wrapped around the idea that people should spend time making themselves feel good by buying unnecessary things, taking whole days off to recharge and “treating themselves.” Other generations argue that millennials complain too much and have it way easier than the generations before them.
However, there is also value to the attention that millennials are giving to self care. Wellness is something that has long been overlooked, not only regarding exercise, but also nutrition.
Now, millennials are bringing those problems to the forefront, forcing employers to give their employees’ wellness more attention as well as a way to not only maintain their employment, but also attract talent.
The first generation to truly understand the value of balancing both work and life, millennials are pushing employers to give more time off and allow for more flexibility. Balancing work and life doesn’t mean going to work from 9-5 and then doing other things after your shift. Instead, it means making work more comfortable and accommodating so that they can work during times that fits their lives better, or take breaks when they need to, such as an exercise break or a break to do some other sort of hobby.
Burnout is a problem that many employers struggle with in their employees. Employee burnout costs the US more than $300 billion a year, a number that many employers are starting to recognize as being too high. In an article by The Harvard Business Review, Natalia Peart writes that in order to reduce employee burnout, companies must allow for more breaks, create more flexibility and incorporate stress reduction habits into the workplace.
One of the best examples of a company that puts employees’ well-being at the forefront of company priorities is Google. Google is infamous for their employee benefits. Not only do they give their employees flexible hours, Google headquarters around the world have in house gyms and other athletic facilities, free gourmet food for their employees, on-site medical care and many more amenities. Google also has a 80/20 policy which allows employees to use 20 percent of their time to do things they enjoy or start side projects. By giving more attention to their employee’s well being, Google found that they had a 12% increase in employee productivity.
Google isn’t the only company that is changing the workplace environment. Companies around the country are shifting to create more work-day flexibility and to implement corporate wellness programs in response to the millennial demand for companies to adapt to the way they work.
Additionally, companies are now being founded that are devoted to helping other companies build wellness programs for their employees. Exubrancy, founded by Liz Wilkes during her time at Columbia University, works with companies to customize wellness programs that best fit what the company needs. Their programs include helping design fitness spaces and relaxation areas in company offices in addition to offering fitness classes, massages and meditation sessions.
Modern Health is another company that plans to help companies with employee wellness. Modern Health focuses on providing psychological assessments, therapy sessions, career coaching and guided meditation to help with employee’s mental health which in turn could help reduce employee burnout.
Self care is no longer limited to doing yoga, working out, journaling for self reflection, etc. Now, self care has expanded into the workplace, putting an emphasis on employee wellness.
With millennials as the largest generation currently in the US workforce, their generation is strongly pushing for employers to implement more flexibility and allow for more balance between work and life. The new work-life interaction that they are advocating for and that more and more companies around the US are beginning to adapt will be the driving force in reducing employee burnout in years to come.