Tailor your wellness strategy for your demographic

October 02, 2023

When it comes to a company-wide yearly wellness strategy, there are a number of key factors to bear in mind, and it is often the difference between a successful and engaging wellness offering versus one that falls short of the mark, with a very small percentage of employees engaging each year.

One of the most significant things to consider is, who is your audience? Who are the people you are targeting your wellness initiatives towards, or are you taking a ‘one shoe fits all’ approach? From decades of experience of working with individuals, groups and organisations within the area of health and wellness I see the most obvious first mistake that is made is to see everyone as the same, when this is never the case. Like fitness, wellness is unique to everyone and just like fitness it can easily be something that is neglected, so a key question to consider when creating a strategy is how is your employee base demographic made up, and what will engage each area most?

Post Covid

It is safe to say that one of the reactions to the impact of the pandemic was organisations quickly investing in various supports to help the wellbeing of their staff. Most companies reacted well and invested in a variety of wellness supports such as digital wellbeing, training staff members to become wellness champions or mental health first aiders, and offering regular wellness experiences such as talks, workshops, fitness/ yoga/ meditation classes etc.

As this support was hurried and reactive, it often was the ‘one shoe fits all’ approach as opposed to a targeted strategy. The more recent focus on return to the workplace and a general refocus on working schedules and productivity, has meant that a health and wellbeing focus has been de-prioritised, and many initiatives have ceased or have become sporadic, with much less intent.

Budgets have been cut in this area and those key personnel who took an interest in staff wellbeing or who’s role it was to create an effective strategy are now much busier with other aspects of their working roles.

WIN with wellness mindset

This was an inevitable pendulum swing back to business-as-usual post covid, but now is a very good time to evaluate what was working and what is still missing when it comes to staff wellbeing. With a focus on performance, it is important to recognise that, investing €1 in wellbeing provides an average of a €3 return on investment ($4.1 in the US according to Harvard Global Health), and keeping employee hearts, minds and bodies healthy with regards stress management and the avoidance of significant absenteeism and presenteeism this investment is worth it.

So, a good place to start each year is with the WIN with wellness mindset – What’s Important Now? What is important with regards employees mental, physical, emotional and relational wellbeing? Look at what initiatives worked and got good traction with staff during the pandemic and what did not – a stop, start, continue exercise.

Target your new intervention

Many organisations demographic changed over the course of the pandemic with staff leaving and new staff starting, and in some sectors there is still some shifting sands being experienced. How is your employees base made up with regards age, stage of life and gender identification? Different groups of people are interested in different things at different stages of their life.

Younger generations are often more focused on in person social or sporting/games activities which were not readily available during the early part of the pandemic, while groups closer to the end of their careers and retirement are more focused on what this stage means and how various investments can help. Parents of young families often are concerned with financial wellbeing and how to manage stress and a good work-life balance, where they can still invest in their own health and wellbeing while running a busy household, while couples whose children are teenagers and are close to leaving the nest or doing exams are looking for certain advice with navigating this stage.

There are also the physical needs of various life stages to consider such as perimenopause and menopause for women, and various age-related challenges for men such as prostate cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Other groups are new career starters such as university graduates.

Connecting with your groups

During the pandemic there were a host of digital solutions that hit the market and over 600 wellness apps were launched, and while this is a good base option to provide all staff a digital solution along with an EAP (Employee Assistance Program), by looking at the data usage you will be able to see how effective it is with regards certain group demographics. On average for an EAP, you might see a consistent 4% usage and for apps anything from 1% to 10% to 15%.

A more targeted approach means more directed information being provided at different times throughout the year and towards various targeted groups. A more directed approach is with talks and workshops, and a trend in 2023 is back to in person talks to educate and connect, as post pandemic the issue of staff not being or getting together enough is a challenge and in person talks help bring people together on a regular basis.

Regular social and sports events are particularly important for younger staff, whereas staff with families or are older may not be as keen to make the effort to attend, but they would be more likely to attend a talk that is focused on a topic of interest and does not require too much effort to participate. A program of talks that are a mix of virtual and in person and specifically targeted, although not necessarily marketed at different groups is a simple solution with one a month (12 hours a year) or one every 2 months (6 hours a year) to complement the broader offering.

A good idea while reviewing the wellness data from the previous year is to target each group with a small survey to see what topics are of interest, especially as each demographic grows with age and experience and the work force shifts. There are some standard areas that all groups need support in such as stress management, sleep, anxiety and the importance of regular exercise and movement, and here again these talks or information provisions can be tailored to target certain groups with relevant information.

Final thoughts

The keys to a successful wellness strategy are knowledge (data), interest generation (communication), engagement (promotion and ROI) and entertainment (fun), and what the pandemic has shown us clearly is that staff become more interested in their own wellbeing in general, when their organisation and leaders show interest in their staff wellbeing.

The opposite we see now is also the case, and many successful interventions are falling by the wayside. Long term, employees feel more valued and stay with companies longer and are more engaged when they feel their workplace values them, and an effective wellness strategy is one simple way of ensuing this.

Jason Brennan
Founder & Director
Thinkwell Ireland



Upcoming Ibec Webinar

This Autumn, our Networks seminar series focuses on how business can optimise the multigenerational workforce. During our five-webinar series we will provide you with skills and tools to understand and optimise different generations of your workforce. We will examine habits and behaviours of each generation, discuss generational motivations; upskilling; recruitment challenges and targeted wellness.

Tailor Your Wellness Strategy for Your Demographic

Monday 16 October 11.00 – 11.40am
In the final of our five-webinar series, Jason Brennan will explore how separate wellness approaches and health benefits may be required to suit the needs of the age profiles in your workforce.


For full details on all webinars in the series, please visit our webpage here.