90% of millennials have experienced workplace stress: what can employers do?

Every generation is born into a world where social, cultural, economic, political and technological factors define and shape their identity

Millennials – those born between 1982 and 2004 – are said to be a liberated and carefree generation, yet most claim to have experienced stress in the workplace. What role can employers play to improve this situation?

There is much more focus on holistic care for employees in the 21st century workplace than in the past as the taboo associated with support and intervention lessens; however, access to formal pastoral care may still be hampered by stereotypical assumptions as to how a particular group – or in this case, generation – is thought to function in both daily life and the workplace.

Millennials break their boundaries

A recent survey of 1,000 UK employees commissioned by LifeWorks revealed some unexpected trends. On topics ranging from benefits to stress, the consistent response from millennials revealed a working life dominated by stress and anxiety. This in contrast to the general image of this age group as being blessed with the golden ticket of success.

90 per cent of those surveyed reported experience of stress at work, of which 40 per cent noted that stress is either a regular or permanent part of their working day.

The stressful nature of UK work culture

Many people in the UK workforce feel occasional or intermittent stress and few have any access to organised coping strategies, but for the millennial this situation is aggravated by particular factors. Take social media as an example. The 24/7 available culture, which may still seem new-fangled to older people, is all many younger people have known and creates expectations that make the off switch very difficult to locate.

Overtime is another key factor, with the pressure to succeed resulting in less personal choice about hours worked than is healthy. In just over a decade, around half the workforce will comprise millennial-age workers, making it crucial that action is taken to improve working conditions for employees of all ages or risk ever-increasing drops in productivity.

Employer action needed

With some thought and investment of time, effort and money, employers can take steps to rectify this situation before crisis point. The easiest way to achieve this is by providing the following:

  • Support. Depending on the type of business, this could involve subsidising leisure and sports activities to get staff active while having fun, or organising emotional support for those who need a boost.
  • Recognition. Getting to know staff as individuals means stress-reducing options that appeal to their own needs are more likely to be met. For some, this may mean flexi-hours to reduce their commute time; for others, help with childcare may be crucial.
  • Reward. Paid holidays are important to many people, especially when they can choose some of the dates. Others would prefer a company discount or access to car-lease schemes. All levels of employee should have equal access to rewards.

The time to take care of millennials in the workplace is now, as this will help to avoid bigger issues at some point down the line. If the burden of stress can be reduced, the financial benefits for the economy should be immense.

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