Mental Wellbeing

Gen Z mental wellbeing – the unique challenges they face and how employers can help them

To make a meaningful difference to Gen Z, employers need to be aware of the distinct ways they learn and how they form habits.

Gen Z  

There are some universals to Gen Z - that is, those born between 1995 and the early 2010s.  They do not remember a world without the internet, they are more liberal than other generations and, most importantly, they’ve spent a larger, and significant, proportion of their lives corralled in by the pandemic. Whether studying or in the early stages of their careers when Covid 19 hit, Gen Z employees will have been deeply impacted by having to spend these formative years working from behind a screen, often in shared housing. We have established GetZeN as a company to support businesses in the challenges of the youngest members of the workforce. 

 

From our experience of help Gen Z with their mental wellbeing, they tend to follow these characteristics while at work:

 
  • Gen Z workers really benefit from one to ones, they want a personalised feedback loop so they can find out from you what more they can be doing, and tell you what more they may need to get the job done. 
  • Gen Z workers are incredibly open to coaching and mentoring and learning from elders to find out what to do at work. They’re enthusiastic and open to learning.
  • If something doesn't resonate, Gen Z workers can be admirably critical, very quick to say they’re not getting it. And when it does resonate, they’ll want to apply learnings immediately - whether that’s day to day workflow, meeting structure, all the rituals of the workplace that keep things running smoothly. 
  • Presenteeism seems to work differently for Gen Z. They’re so keen to catch up, to get stuck in, that they might not take time away to disconnect. They’re across emails, Trello/Asana/Monday, WhatsApps, Slack, all at the very same time, and this constant burr of communication can leave them feeling like they’re always responding to others rather than activating their own work. 

Gen Z challenges can be exacerbated by remote working

 

Now that Gen Z may often be working from home, diligently, but often from shared spaces (not their fault) or small bedrooms (again, not their fault), and they won’t see much problem in working round the clock, dipping in and out to get ahead. While this may seem like some employers to be a blessing, because in the short term it can show dedication to the job and a passion for work, drawing a line between work life and personal life can be important. While older generations may need some encouragement to bring themselves to work, too often Gen Z will take their work home with them. The ultimate impact of this is young employees being unable to focus, due to a depletion of their attentional resources. From that, they won’t be able to work as required, see the standards of their deliverables drop and potentially find themselves losing morale. 

    Gen Z working from home

How businesses can make a difference with Gen Z’s wellbeing

 

While reminding people to move away from their screens is important, it is also essential that organsiation recognise that their Gen Z employees like to receive information differently: 

 
"The difference with working with Gen Z is that they are the most phone-dependent group yet. And consequently they take in information in a different way. I've found that working with them through messages, notifications and at times gamification can help marry with how Gen Z take in information." - Kate Cook
   

How you deliver help, can make a difference

 

Sooyeol Kim, an Assistant Professor at the National University of Singapore, recommends micro-breaks in the workplace because “we need to take frequent short mini informal breaks as much as we can and as much as we need” in order to “reduce the cost of stress and increase energy”. Not only can taking those breaks give people the opportunity to “vent” about challenges, grab food or just get a moment’s air.  Managers need to model break-taking and ideally receive training to understand how essential such positive behaviours are. 

Checking in and listening to the needs of your Gen Z employees is important, striking a balance with the modes of communication and uppermost is letting them know that they don’t need to be switched on 24/7, they can and should take some time to relax and clock off, as and when they need.

  taking a break  

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