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Employment Law

How To Help Generation Z Employees...Or Other Stressed Workers

Gen Z employees are reportedly the most stressed of all workers: 91% claimed to be stressed. Their employers have a legal duty of care. Read more...

How To Help Generation Z Employees...Or Other Stressed Workers

Generation Z – The Most Stressed Employees

Gen Z employees are reportedly the most stressed of all workers: 91% claimed to be stressed, compared with 84% on average. The data comes from a survey of 12,000 workers globally by healthcare insurer Cigna.

Hard-nosed employers are probably eye-rolling at this point. ‘Stressed’ is one of those words that’s thrown around so often that its use seems to have transcended the definition or determination of the condition.

But think twice before you take that pinch of salt. Stress is very real…especially when you’re up before an employment tribunal because an employee has suffered from mental health issues due to overwork or too much pressure.

Who Are Generation Z? What Characterises Them? Why Are They Different?

Generation Z (also known as Gen Z or Zoomers) refers to the cohort of individuals born between the mid-1990s and the mid-2010s. This generation is the youngest and most diverse in society, with an estimated global population of more than two billion people.

The defining features of Generation Z are heavily influenced by their upbringing in the digital age. They are the first generation to grow up entirely in the internet era. They’ve had access to the internet since birth – and social media pretty much all their lives. As a result, Gen Z tends to be highly tech-savvy, socially connected, and comfortable with online communication.

In terms of beliefs and values, Gen Z is known for being socially and politically engaged. Zoomers tend to be highly concerned about social justice issues, such as racial and gender equality, environmentalism, and LGBTQ+ rights. They are also more accepting of diversity and individuality than previous generations and tend to have a more liberal worldview.

Another characteristic of Gen Z is their desire for authenticity and transparency. They value honesty and integrity in their relationships and the brands and companies they interact with. They also tend to be entrepreneurial, preferring to work for themselves or in small, creative teams – rather than for large corporations.

Employers should pay attention to the values and preferences of Gen Z because they are the future of the workforce. As the oldest members of Gen Z enter the job market, they bring with them a unique set of skills, expectations and demands. Employers who can adapt to these preferences are likely to attract and retain top talent.

However, employers should also be aware of the potential challenges of managing Gen Z. They tend to have a shorter attention span, a desire for instant gratification, and a preference for flexibility and work-life balance. Employers who can offer these benefits are likely to have a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining Gen Z employees.

Why Is Generation Z So Stressed Compared With Other Age Groups?

Research suggests that Generation Z is experiencing higher levels of stress than previous generations because of:

  1. The pressure to succeed in a highly competitive job market
  2. Social media
  3. Political unrest and global turmoil.

Bullets one and three are nothing new – they’ve been around for as long as humanity, so Gen Z hardly has a monopoly on those particular worries.

But Gen Z sees itself as the victim of an ongoing permacrisis. In their eyes, society is lurching from one disaster to the next: global warming, Covid19, war in Ukraine, the rising cost of living, food shortages, widespread strikes and economic woes. And there’s no end in sight.

Social media contributes to Gen Z’s stress levels in a variety of ways. According to a study by the Royal Society for Public Health, social media use is linked to increased rates of anxiety, depression, and poor sleep among young people. Social media can seem unrelenting – users feel they must constantly compare themselves with others, with incessant pressure to maintain a perfect online image.

It’s also worth remembering that UK Gen Z has never experienced an economic boom. The last one was back in 1985-1988, in the Yuppie/Loadsamoney era – long before Zoomers were around. Since then it’s been recession, downturn, flat performance or restrained growth at best.

In the US, 59% of 18-24-year-olds don’t own a home and never expect to do so. That lack of ownership can distance someone from society (and yet Gen Z cares passionately about a world it may never truly own in the freehold sense of the world).

So how are employers expected to deal with these unhappy people?

Think About Your Employees’ Mental Health

Stress is an issue of mental health so it must be taken seriously. And it applies to all employees and workers – not just Gen Z.

Employers have a legal duty of care to ensure the mental health and wellbeing of their employees under common law, the Health and Safety at Work Act etc. 1974, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and the Equality Act 2010.

Employers should take proactive steps to promote mental health and wellbeing in the workplace to ensure compliance with these legal obligations.

Under common law, employers have a duty to take reasonable care to ensure the safety of their employees, which includes their mental health. This was established in the case of Walker v Northumberland County Council [1995] 1 All ER 737, in which it was held that employers have a duty to take reasonable care to prevent psychiatric injury to their employees.

In addition to common law, the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HSWA) imposes a duty on employers to ensure (so far as it is reasonably practicable) the health, safety and welfare at work of their employees.

This includes mental health. Employers must identify and assess any risks to the mental health of their employees and take appropriate action to prevent harm. This duty is further reinforced by the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, which require employers to undertake risk assessments of all workplace hazards – including those related to mental health.

The Equality Act 2010 also places a duty on employers to make reasonable adjustments to support employees with mental health conditions. Employers must take steps to remove any workplace barriers that may prevent employees with mental health conditions from performing their jobs effectively.

What Should Employers Do?

It pays to take expert legal advice from a solicitor who specialises in employment law. A simple chat may be all that’s required to spot any potential HR issues – giving you the opportunity to rectify them before they escalate into something more serious.

At Coles Miller, our staff include qualified mental health first aiders. They are there to provide confidential help and guidance if anyone feels the need to discuss any potential difficulties they may be facing.

There are three qualified mental health first aiders in the Poole town centre head office where I’m based. The service is signposted throughout our offices so our employees know there will always be someone for them if they need support.


Further Reading

  • The Danger Of ‘Quiet Firing’ Your Quiet Quitters. Read more…
  • What Is Quiet Quitting? And How Can I Stop My Employees From Doing It? Read more…
  • What The Crackdown On ‘Fire And Rehire Will Mean For Employers. Read more…
  • Employment Settlement Agreements And The Potential Pitfalls. Read more…

Get Expert Legal Advice

Contact Coles Miller employment solicitor Hugh Reid for expert legal advice on employment contracts, disciplinary procedures, terminating contracts of employment and making workers and employees redundant.

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