- Amy Morin is an author, psychotherapist, and host of The Verywell Mind Podcast.
- In a recent survey, Morin found that Gen Z respondents reported more mental health challenges than other generations.
- To better support young workers, Morin says employers should provide stress management resources.
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You might expect older generations to be the most stressed out from the pandemic. After all, COVID put them at the highest risk for serious illness or even death. But it turns out, Gen Z may be experiencing the greatest mental health challenges right now.
Despite being digital natives who are used to working online, the under-24 crowd has experienced significant psychological distress during lockdown. Consequently, younger workers may need more support than employers anticipate.
A large chunk of their time in the workplace has been spent staring at their digital devices. Integrating into the workplace – or reintegrating – may be a little more difficult for them since they have a lot less experience than older generations.
Research shows work and money are the biggest stressors
At Verywell Mind, we began researching the state of mental health in America last month, and are reporting on the shifts and trends we’re witnessing over time.
Findings from our first survey indicate that Gen Z respondents are the most stressed out generation right now, and their biggest sources of stress are work and money.
Gen Zers who responded to our survey also reported more symptoms of depression, such as difficulty sleeping, changes in appetite, and feelings of hopelessness.
Given their psychological distress, it’s important for employers to provide some much needed support. As these young workers finish their education and step into the working world, a little extra attention could go a long way toward helping our future leaders.
Provide stress management resources
Gen Z is just learning about the workplace. And their view of work is skewed since many of them entered the workforce during the pandemic.
Provide ongoing information about stress management. Whether that means having more conversations about this during one-on-one private meetings or it means offering free classes that teach skills, like yoga or meditation, incorporate stress management strategies into the workplace.
Gen Zers could also likely benefit from information on work/life balance (daily life and busyness was the third biggest source of stress). Many of them have been working remotely during the pandemic which may make finding balance tough. Educating them on how to set boundaries with work so they can enjoy free time can go a long way toward preventing burnout.
Give ongoing mental health support
Despite the higher rates of distress, our survey showed that Gen Z respondents were less likely to say that society would be better off if more people saw a therapist. They’re also concerned about the stigma associated with therapy.
Ongoing conversations about mental health in the workplace, however, could change that.
Offering an EAP might make therapy more accessible to them since they’re more likely to be strapped for money for therapy.
Bring therapists into the office to provide occasional workshops or informational sessions. This may teach them about mental health issues, local resources, and ways to get help.
They may benefit from learning about how to build mental strength, improve their emotional intelligence, and address workplace issues in a healthy way.
Offer financial incentives and clear opportunities for advancement
Since Gen Z workers are most worried about work and their financial futures, provide clear opportunities for advancement. If they understand what’s available to them and how to get there, they are likely to feel more secure in the workplace, as well.
Additionally, they may be very motivated by financial incentives. Offer financial incentives for reaching their goals or exceeding their expectations.
When you help them reduce their distress and improve their mental health, you’ll be improving their lives. You’ll also help free up their mental energy to focus more on work and worry less about their financial security.