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7th Key Observation – “Wellness for the Ages: The Beaver to The Bieber”

Wellness in the Workplace 2.0

What Got Us Where We Are Today…Won’t Get us Where We Need to be Tomorrow

10 Key Observations from Thirty-Five Years in the Field


7th Key Observation…

“Wellness for the Ages:  From The Beaver to The Bieber”

presented for your intellectually driven consideration, emotionally driven engagement and—most important—your viscerally driven action



Over the past 30 years, one of the highest demand speeches and workshops I do for corporations is called:

“Pearl Harbor to Pearl Jam”

Wellness for the Ages

Certainly, much attention is given to the psychology of change.  Unfortunately—my 35+ years of field observation tells me­—the sociology of behavior and behavior change remains shortchanged.

This particular talk outlines the importance of avoiding cookie cutter approaches to wellbeing programming and for management to recognize the impact of both generational and cultural differences at the worksite.  According to audiences, the presentation is interesting, insightful, amusing and very practical … lots of “AH HA!” moments.

The last time I gave this addresses was last Autumn in Newport, RI, for a group of about 60 corporate wellness and HR folks.  I’m pleased to say that the talk was well received; however, as I considered the makeup of the audience, it dawned on me that the-times-they-are-a-changing.  Well, more to the point, the-bookends-they-are-a-changing.

The “Veterans” (Greatest Generation), 1916 -1924, are sadly all but gone from one end of the corporate spectrum and “Generation Y” (Millennials), 1981 – 1997, are about to share the stage with “Generation Z” (The Internet Generation), 1998 – 2010.

With a tip of my hat to Steve Cook from the Health & Wellness Institute (it was his suggestion), the talk remains basically the same but it now reflects a significant tick of the clock.  Going forth, the talk and workshop is called:

“The Beaver to The Bieber”

Wellness for the Ages

multiple generations at work…

Tom Brokaw’s favorite cohort is now part of the background story as they join the Ellis Island generation that came ashore at the turn of the 20th century.  Although no longer part of today’s active workforce, the influence of these two generations MUST be considered and understood if we are to maximize the exponential power of our multi-generational human resources.

When designing wellbeing programs and policies it helps if you have a basic grasp—for each generation—on the following:

Defining Events, Themes, Relationships, Rewards & Motivation:  What occurred on the world stage that helped form each generation’s psyche? What do they look for in a relationship and how are they motivated?

So, how about the Silent Generation (1925 – 1945)?  Most of these Korean War Era Americans are retired but many sit on boards, own stock and still influence the worksite.  Do you know what moves their needle and what shaped their dreams?  And, how about those Generation X, Y & Z folks?   Do you really know their likes and dislikes?  If you think all of your employees think alike, dance to the same music, and march to the same drummer, just have a Baby Boomer explain the poetry of rap and ask a Net Gen member to list their three favorite doo-wop groups and tell you “Who Wrote the Book of Love?”

multiple cultures at work…

“From Anthony and Rachel to Juan and Mei-Lien”

Wellness for Everyone

Of course, it’s not just generational but also heritage, custom, and culture that needs your attention.  In 1907—the year of the highest number of immigrants—over 1,000,000 adventurers were processed at Ellis Island.  Here are the top ethnicities of immigrants who passed through Ellis Island between 1899 – 1937:

In addition to those Americans whose ancestors came here via the horrors of slavery or those who identify themselves as Native Americans, the majority of you reading this posting can trace your roots back to western, central and eastern Europe.  The world I was born into in the 40’s and where I was raised in the 50’s was directly and indirectly influenced by this “Melting Pot” of heritage and culture.


But what about today’s new influences on culture, interests, and attitudes?  Where are they coming from?  Here are the top countries of origin of the US foreign-born population as recorded in 2007:

Sources: US Bureau of the Census

talk about a melting pot…


At your worksite, are you taking care of

The Beaver & are you ready for The Bieber?

How about

Anthony & Rachel…Juan & Mei-Lien?


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