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Generational impact on disability


Employees engaged in their jobs account for less absenteeism and turnover while displaying higher levels of morale and productivity.

Engaged employees – those that strive to do their best because they like their work- also account for fewer disability claims.

But employers may encounter challenges trying to engage four distinct generations currently in the nation's workforce.

Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials all exhibit different attitudes about their work and careers, Peggy Anson, vp talent development & engagement for The Hartford Financial Services Group told the Disability Management Employer Coalition conference being held in Portland, Ore.

Each generation also faces different disability drivers and a different degree of understanding about disability benefits.

Boomers, for instance, are most concerned about ailments such as cancer, heart attacks and diabetes. The group born between 1946 and 1965 also tends to know most about disability benefits because they don't trust corporations to watch out for them.

Gen Xers, born between 1966 and 1981, are at greater risk for long-term health issues because of poor, fast-food diets and high stress levels.

Milliennials, those born between 1982 and 2000, are least likely to file claims. They also understand the least about disability benefits because they are optimistic they won't need them.

While each group may prefer different disability management strategies, there is also good news for benefits managers, Ms. Anson said. The different generations can work well together and companies are developing programs to communicate across lines and engage employees more.

“Reverse mentoring” programs are one tool for engaging employees. That calls for younger workers mentoring their older counterparts in applying technology.

Beware though. Conflicts do arise between generations over issues such as appropriate dress in the workplace and acceptable working hours.

About 500 people registered for DMEC's annual conference, down from about 600 last year. But DMEC leaders said that given current economic conditions, they are thrilled with 500 attendees