According to the annual Stress in America survey commissioned by the American Psychological Association, Millennials (born between 1980 and 2000) are the most stressed generation. This is echoed by AccessEAP’s own statistics which show that 40% of Australian Millennials list anxiety as their top personal issue, versus 31% of Generation X and 29% of Baby Boomers.
So why are Millennials suffering from anxiety? It could be that they are the first generation of ‘digital natives’. Having grown up with the internet, the lines between work and personal life are often blurred. Millennials make themselves available around the clock by constantly checking their devices, social media, Facebook and work emails. They experience FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) which can lead to feelings of anxiety. This makes it impossible to switch off, have a break and achieve a work-life balance.
Anxiety not only harms our wellbeing, but also disrupts productivity. AccessEAP research and the feedback we receive from organisations show that in the workplace Millennials are finding it difficult to concentrate, are feeling less productive and are considering resigning. This in turn contributes to anxiety.
With Millennials set to make up an estimated 50% of the workforce by 2020 according to PWC’s Millennials at Work survey, we recommend employers look at ways to create a positive work culture with a focus on age based and wellbeing initiatives. Providing the means to help reduce anxiety will see Millennials happier in the workplace and more likely to stay in their current roles.
Here are some key strategies that organisations may want to consider:
1. Mentoring programs
Millennials want to be mentored and form personal connections, which is good news for retaining the best people. Introduce mentoring and coaching to allow skill transfer between younger and older workers. Mentoring in a one-on-one relationship can benefit both parties. A friendly, supportive environment will allow participants to build on past experiences and acquire new knowledge. Mentors can also help to educate younger workers about the importance of having a work-life balance and expectations around the use of technology. No one should be expected to answer emails in the middle of the night.
2. Flexible work hours
Among Millennials, the concept of a typical workday is obsolete. Offering flexible work hours does not mean working from home five days a week, but some flexibility goes a long way when it comes to job satisfaction. And it’s not just Millennials, most workers would like more flexibility in their schedules to achieve better work-life balance and productivity. As Millennials start families the need for flexibility in the workplace will rise even more dramatically. They are also generally more dedicated to wellness, not just eating right, but exercise and fitness is an important part of everyday life.
3. Positive Feedback
Although Millennials are not alone in this respect, they respond well to encouragement and immediate feedback. They want to be recognised when a job has been done well. Speak to them regularly about their performance and give credit where credit is due. A simple “thank you”, “congratulations” or sharing constructive advice will go a long way in motivating them. Keep the lines of communication open and let them know how they’re tracking in terms of performance. Personal growth is valued by Millennials. .
There are many ways to improve culture within an organisation. For Millennials, they are receptive to open work spaces and technology that allows them to collaborate in real time across the office or around the world. In the workplace, having a fun atmosphere is also important. This could include putting on a staff lunch or organising a quiz night. Millennials also want to help make a difference, so consider a volunteer policy for your organisation. This is great for team building and an opportunity to give back to the local community.
With the demographic of the Australian workforce set to see Millennials dominating in the coming years, organisations should consider equipping themselves with the knowledge and resources to manage this group effectively. It is time to consider how to keep Millennials happy and engaged, which in turn will help to reduce their anxiety, empowering them to be at their best.