As Generation Z becomes a dominant force in the workforce, their unique challenges and perspectives are reshaping workplace dynamics, especially around mental health, highlighting Gen Z’s role in shaping mental health policies at work. Deloitte’s 2021 whitepaper revealed that 49% of millennials and 47% of Gen Z who have taken time off work for mental health reasons, have given their employer a different reason for this absence. This article delves into the landscape of Gen Z’s mental health, examining how their open dialogue and advocacy are driving change, while also uncovering the ongoing barriers they face.  

The need for comprehensive support systems

The increasing recognition of mental health issues within the UK workforce, particularly among Generation Z, underscores the urgent need for comprehensive support systems in the workplace. Deloitte’s Gen Z and Millennial Survey further highlights the critical role of workplace mental health support, with 80% of respondents considering such policies crucial when choosing an employer.  

Tim Barker’s insights in Forbes celebrate Gen Z’s proactive approach to mental health, a contrast to previous generations. They are not only advocating for themselves but also influencing the future of workplace culture by expecting more robust mental health resources and support. 

The effect of mental health in the workplace

However, a significant gap remains, as 32% still feel uncomfortable discussing mental health issues, like stress, with their managers – indicating ongoing stigma. Research from the Vitality Britain’s Healthiest Workplace survey paints a concerning picture, especially for the under-30 demographic, who lose more than a day a week to productivity issues related to poor health, primarily mental health challenges. Despite reporting better physical health than their older counterparts, Gen Z employees face significantly higher mental health struggles: 

  • Gen Z employees lose 64% more days of productivity compared to those over 50 due to health issues. 
  • They report higher rates of depression (14.6%) and burnout (17%) compared to older age groups. 
  • Over half (55.6%) of Gen Z workers suffer from fatigue. 

These findings challenge the misconception of younger workers as less productive, pointing instead to the unique pressures they face in today’s fast-paced, digitally connected world. With mental health problems rising sharply among young people even before the pandemic, experts like Nil Guzelgun of Mind and Alexa Knight of the Mental Health Foundation have called for comprehensive public mental health strategies. They emphasise that mental health is influenced by a multitude of factors including economic stability, housing, education, and social relationships. 

The economic impact

The economic impact is profound, with the Mental Health Foundation estimating that poor mental health costs the UK economy around £118 billion annually, approximately 5% of the GDP. This financial toll highlights the broader societal impacts of inadequate mental health support, particularly as the UK struggles to recover economically post-pandemic. Addressing these issues is not just a matter of public health but an economic necessity, urging businesses and policymakers to invest in mental health resources that are accessible, effective, and reduce the stigma around mental health discussions in the workplace. 

Conclusion

As Generation Z continues to establish their presence in the workforce, it’s clear that their commitment to mental health and well-being is driving significant shifts in workplace culture, highlighting Gen Z’s role in shaping mental health policies at work. Despite the stigma that still surrounds mental health issues, the transparency and advocacy of Gen Z are prompting employers to prioritise mental health support and resources. The statistics and insights from various studies underscore the importance of addressing these needs, with a focus on creating inclusive and supportive environments. 

Employers have a crucial role to play in this evolving landscape. By implementing comprehensive mental health policies, promoting open dialogue, and providing adequate support, they can ensure that their Gen Z employees thrive both personally and professionally.  

For more information or to book a demo of the Dragon Perks employee benefits platform, get in touch with us here. Let’s create a better, more supportive workplace together. 

 

References: Gen Z’s Role in Shaping Mental Health Policies at Work 

 

Deloitte: Millennials, Gen Z and Mental Health  

Forbes: Gen Z in the modern workplace 

Deloitte: Gen Z Millennial Survey  

People Management: Gen Z losing one work day every week 

Vitality: Healthiest Workplace 

The Guardian: What’s up with generation Z 

KCL News: Youth Mental Health  

Cosmopolitan: Gen Z mental health work