It may not come as much of a surprise that in a recent report by Deloitte on mental health at work, 48% of Millennials (born 1981-1996) and Generation Z (born 1997-2012) reported that they have felt more stressed since the start of the pandemic. For many of us this has been a really difficult time.
Worryingly, despite more discussion about mental health in the media in the last 18 months, 60% have not felt able to tell their employers about their increase in stress or anxiety. Which means that even among the younger workforce, mental health stigma endures.
31% of Millennials and 35% of Gen Zs have taken time off work for mental health reasons. But astonishingly 49% and 47% (respectively) of these have given their employer a different reason for their absence. And for those who have never requested time off for mental health reasons, 46% and 51% of them said that they would not give their employer the real reason if they did.
When you look at the figures above, it’s not surprising that one in four Millennials and Gen Zs feel that their employer is poor when it comes to supporting workers to be their true selves. And nearly four in ten gave their employers a poor grade when it comes to supporting mental health during the pandemic.
Fear of discrimination due to mental ill health in the workplace is still rife. With 50% of millennials and 53% of Gen Zs believing that this frequently happens.
Prioritising Mental Health at Work
As employees, socially conscious young people are demanding their concerns around mental health and inequality are addressed in the workplace. In another recent report from The Purpose Pulse, Gen Z and Millennials are clear on diversity and inclusivity which includes mental health. 69% (almost 7 in 10) want employers to encourage them to bring their whole self to work.
Being authentic and being able to show or be your whole self includes being able to discuss concerns about mental health with your employer. Psychological safety is one of five key elements that allow a team to excel. Google’s Aristotle study found that when people feel safe and connected they work better together.
The research also showed that 66% (two thirds) want to work for an organisation that actively promotes diversity and inclusion.
There are set to be rewards for brands that have a clear social purpose and a good record on workers rights. Over two thirds of young people (68%) are looking to buy from brands that treat their employees well. With 61% saying a brand having a clear social purpose is important in their purchasing decisions.
Just over two fifths (43%) of Millennials and Gen Z in the UK have boycotted a company over the past 12 months because they don’t agree with their values or behaviour. This is an increase of 9% from last year.
Clearly more needs to be done to end the stigma around mental ill health. Employers must now make mental health a priority to ensure that workers can be their whole self and to help strike a better work-life balance.
The rewards for doing this are clear. Not only a happier, healthier and more productive work force but also a more positive image for customers too.