Gen Z employees place a premium on their mental health much more than other generations. They entered the workforce in the middle of or post pandemic, with high inflation, war, and a looming recession. Almost half of Gen Z employees are almost always stressed and they consider day-to-day finances to be a top contributor of their stresses, while 47% of them say it’s their long-term financial future that’s also driving their current stresses. Thus, they also ranked their generation’s mental health as their 4th most top concern. Maybe it is because of this heightened awareness on the state of their mental health that Gen Z employees take burnout more seriously, and cited burnout as 1 of the top 3 reasons they changed organization within the past 2 years. Most of them think employers don’t take burnout seriously, indicating that there is a mismatch in what Gen Z employees need and what employers currently support in terms of helping them prevent and manage burnout. 32% of them rank this as one of the most important factors in choosing a place to work for. Gen Z, 33% of them, still can’t speak openly to their managers about mental health issues and half of them give other reasons when taking a leave due to mental health concerns. You can read more about it in this white paper by Deloitte on Gen Z and Millennials.
What they need from employers have also changed especially when compared to other generations. In fact, 77% of them find it important to work for a company that cares about DEI, and 76% define a company a great place to work in if people are friendly, caring and socially conscious. Half of them want mental health training at work and eight out of 10 want mental health days at work. They rank EAP programs followed by digital health tools (46%) and education (43%) as the support they need for their mental health. (Wellable Labs, 2022) .
So what are the usual ways employers start a wellness program for Gen Z employees, specifically concerning their mental health?
5. EAP Programs
Having options to consult one-on-one with psychotherapists, psychologists, and other mental health professionals would be ideal, especially for clinical cases. Employees, however, would not normally avail because they might not be aware that they already need it for their mental health issues, or might avoid it due to the perceived stigma around it.
4. Digital Health Tools
This is a good-to-have benefit especially for Gen Z employees, but only as a tool of an overarching employee wellness program, and not as an end-all-be-all initiative. There are excellent apps that offer education, prompts, and meditation exercises that will help employees practice some good mental health habits. Most apps, however, do not have clinical proof and utilization is always a challenge.
This is a good way to help employees go back to basics. Good physical and nutritional habits will affect mental health because these aspects of wellness are your basic building blocks to wellbeing. Holistic team challenges that help Gen Z employees build better physical, nutritional and mental wellness habits they can sustain will empower them to manage their own wellbeing in the long run. A team challenge with a professional wellness coach done with teammates also keeps them accountable to each other, increases team bond, and helps decrease burnout.
Education and empowerment are key. Younger Gen Z employees already have greater awareness when their mental health is declining, and they should be empowered to manage it. Different approaches to managing stress, anxiety and even burnout can be shared, such as an overall lifestyle management by holistic health coaches, changing mindset habits by psychotherapists, new daily mindset practices by life coaches, and, even talking about gut health are just some lenses we can use to tackle mental health concerns. It is vital to equip them with tools so they can create better habits and stop destructive practices for themselves.
Mental health training for Gen Z employees, training leaders to have more empathy are some of the things that this generation is looking for in the workplace, and rightly so. Creating a safe space in the workplace for employees with mental health concerns is a vital first step in destigmatizing this issue, paving the way for other initiatives to flourish.
Employers who are able to implement some of these initiatives and those who make mental health of their Gen Z employees a priority, will be able to retain them and create more successful teams.