Wooing Millennials with a Wellness Program

The consistently low unemployment rates in California and across the U.S. make attracting and retaining the best talent a challenge. In fact, “ghosting” recruiters and hiring managers is becoming more prevalent. When prospective employees get multiple job offers, they may abruptly stop all communications with recruiters during the hiring process and seemingly disappear like a ghost.

To stand out with and engage prospective employees, corporations are enhancing their benefits and perks—including wellness programs.

Attracting millennial team members

As the largest generation in the workforce, millennials or Generation Y (born 1981 to 1996) are a focus for many employers. However, millennials are in a life stage that requires them to be always open to new opportunities and make quick career decisions. Being raised during a time of major corporate layoffs, many millennials view loyalty to their employer in terms of months instead of years.

Gallup says millennial turnover costs the U.S. economy $30.5 billion annually. Nevertheless, 90% of millennials want to grow their careers with their current companies.

Millennials want to know that their company leaders care about them as people, not simply as employees. In addition to a clear path to career advancement, they want a holistic healthcare approach and a connected community.

Millennials value health and wellness

According to Gallup, 57% of millennials say that work-life balance and well-being in a job are “very important” to them. In addition, Clutch, a B2B ratings and reviews company, says 44% of millennials name health insurance as the most important benefit they receive.

Millennials have earned the label as the most health-conscious generation because of their unprecedented access to health information found online. This “connected generation” is comfortable getting healthcare and wellness advice from Google, WebMD and health support groups found on social media. Millennials have grown up with mobile devices always within reach. Using apps for grocery shopping, counting calories and helping them meditate is second nature. They also helped to popularize superfoods, such as kale, chia and flax seeds, acai and avocado toast.

To the “wellness generation,” working out is as much a social activity as it is a healthy choice. Happy hours have long been a popular way to bond with teammates. Now, many young professionals under 35 years old prefer to strengthen their relationships while strengthening their muscles. Exercising together to socialize and build community has become a part of millennial culture. A Web Index survey found that only 24% of millennials drink alcohol at least once a week, while 76% of them exercise at least once a week.

The millennials’ appreciation for community and wellness has sparked a new fitness culture. Exercise classes are now available for everything from goat yoga and barre classes to high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and cycling as full-body workouts. In addition to scheduling classes with friends and colleagues, the various gyms and studios have become opportunities to make new friends and meet a partner.

Millennials Participating in Wellness Programs

With millennials aspiring to healthy lifestyles, employers can attract and engage more young professionals by offering rich wellness programs. This generation welcomes the opportunity to partner with you and your wellness program to promote a healthier lifestyle.

However, millennials and Generation Z (22 and younger) who are beginning to enter the workforce, will expect more from wellness benefits than previous generations. These young professionals want a holistic approach to health and wellness that goes far beyond weight loss challenges, tips to quit smoking and disease management.

 Here are ways to advance your wellness program to attract millennials:


As technophiles, millennials enjoy using the latest tools that offer ease and convenience. Wearables, such as fitness activity trackers and smart watches, are becoming commonplace. PwC reports that more than 75 million wearables will permeate the workplace by 2020. It’s not just a fad!

Employers investing in fitness activity trackers and offering walking-based challenges, weight maintenance programs and other physical activities are seeing traction year-over-year. You can augment the appeal to tech-savvy millennials by including programs that “gamify” wellness. For example, add friendly competition and social interaction through live fitness coaching delivered to your teams using two-way video conferencing.

Millennials check their phones 150 times a day on average, according to Qualtrics and Accel. Consider wellness coaching using text messages and fitness and nutrition apps to make your programs more comprehensive.


Millennials are open to health incentive programs—especially action and progress-based initiatives.

Action-based incentives motivate your teams to adopt healthy behaviors. By creating a feeling of community, millennials will want to join group activities. They will be more apt to complete a risk assessment or get preventive screenings, and then participate in health coaching or join a weight management program.
Progress-based plans offer rewards for improving health concerns, such as cholesterol, blood pressure and weight. Employees are incentivized to choose healthy habits rather than being penalized for having health issues.

Emphasize EAP

Approximately 20% of millennials report experiencing depression compared to 16% of Generation X and Baby Boomers respectively, according to research from Bensinger, Dupont & Associates. Millennials are at the life stage that’s most likely to be juggling careers while raising young children, continuing their education and other demands that cause high levels of stress.

Employers can demonstrate that they care about their teams by providing holistic healthcare. Emphasize the benefit of an Employee Assistance Program’s (EAP) direct, confidential access to professionals who can assist with areas causing employee distress. EAPs can address concerns from work-related issues to family problems and mental illness.

You may also consider offering the convenience of telehealth services that include behavioral health care.

Prioritize a culture of health

One of the best ways to motivate millennials is for employers to create a general culture of health. A healthy work environment encourages employee engagement and energizes your teams.

Consider offering flexible work schedules outside of cubicles and traditional 9-5 schedules. Allow parents to attend their children’s activities. Encourage employees to take classes, and then login to complete work assignments beyond regular business hours.

Provide convenient opportunities for healthy lifestyles — including apps and mobile-friendly websites — such as:

  • Standing desks or treadmill workstations
  • Walking trails and work-site gyms
  • Onsite fitness programs, like yoga or Zumba
  • Discounted gym memberships or fitness classes
  • Healthy snacks, food and beverage options
  • Nutrition and diet plans on a digital platform
  • Stress management programs
  • Mental health education and support

Optimize healthcare choices

Millennials want more flexibility, convenience and control over their health care benefits. They appreciate the ability to choose high-deductible health plans for major medical insurance packaged with voluntary benefits. This allows millennials to make the choice of lower health insurance premiums, while protecting them from potential financial exposure created by the high deductible. You can also offer a menu of voluntary benefits, such as disability, accident, critical illness and hospitalization insurance.

In addition to health and wellness plans, Willis Towers Watson says employees are also interested in identity theft protection, student loan repayment programs and pet insurance.
By offering a holistic healthcare approach, benefits that can be tailored to young professionals’ needs, and providing tech-based initiatives, a modernized wellness program will woo millennials and enhance loyalty. The result is better health for your teams and your business.

Jake Lewellen has been with Humana for six years in Health and Wellness. He has held positions in account management for large group clients until recently taking over as the Wellness Subject Matter Expert for the midwest/west regions. Jake has deep roots in wellness that can be tied to when he played football and student coached at the University of Kentucky where he graduated with a BS in economics and an MS in kinesiology and health promotion. For more ideas on developing a culture of health and wellness, visit Go365.com or contact your Humana sales rep.