How to Support Young ProfessionalsPosted on April 14, 2021
Written by Sally Clark, Burn-out expert and WOOSH5 e-coach
Amy is a high potential working with a large consultancy firm. Like most young millennials, Amy was already experiencing stress prior to the pandemic – sizeable student debt, relationship stress, her mother’s health problems, not to mention the overarching concerns many of her generation hold about climate change and the environment as well as sociopolitical issues.
“I don’t know any friends or colleagues of my age who are not struggling right now. Life was already hard – the uncertainty of the pandemic has just taken it to the next level.”
The statistics confirm Amy’s experience: reports show that 48% of Generation Z and 44% of millennials are stressed all or most of the time. Stress and anxiety might be the modern-day baseline for many of us, but younger generations find themselves struggling disproportionately compared to those with more life and career experience.
One impact of the pandemic has been to create more focus on the short term, with young professionals reporting that they are more likely to stay with employers, perhaps as a response to the generalized uncertainty they are experiencing. This means that right now, there is an opportunity for companies. If they support their young talent through this phase, the return on this investment is likely to be high in terms of loyalty, morale and engagement.
Before we look at how companies can go about this, let’s look at two areas to which younger professionals are particularly susceptible.
Presenteeism is the tendency to continue working despite physical or mental health complaints. While a broken leg or similar physical complaint is tangible and viewed more often as a legitimate reason to take time off, chronic stress and other mental health complaints are still shrouded in a stigma. Generation Z is especially likely to show up at work even when struggling with a mental health issue.
Leaveism means an inability to switch off or disconnect from work. With our connectivity growing dramatically in recent years and especially during the pandemic, the boundaries between work and home have blurred, if not faded completely.
Amy confirms this in her own experience. “There is not a waking hour that I don’t check my work email. Even when on a hike, while watching a movie on the couch, or during brunch with friends. I don’t know what it feels like not to be connected to work.” And while she knows rationally this isn’t healthy, she finds it difficult to stop. “It definitely feels like that’s the norm. That’s what’s expected of us.”
How can we combat presenteeism and leaveism?
Naturally, the issues which young professionals are facing and the stressors that cause them are not going to go away overnight. In order to prevent these issues becoming the greatest expense your company faces in terms of lost productivity and turnover, there are two approaches:
- Shift company culture
- Support young professionals
(Spoiler alert: Woosh5 can help you with both of these approaches.)
Shift company culture
Company culture needs to be one where people feel safe, supported and trusted. Making employee mental health part of the business plan is a great place to start. But for culture to change, it needs to go beyond words and statements and be a part of the lived values. For example, it requires leaders to “walk the talk” and manager to have the skills to set and maintain healthy boundaries and support their teams to do the same. It also involves proactively designing workflow and organizational culture to drive positive mental health outcomes.
Support young professionals
Make looking after young people’s mental health systemic, not incidental. In practical terms, this means using scalable tools to increase individual resilience and foster self-awareness. These tools need to be customizable: every young professional has their own unique needs and desires, so, one blanket approach is not going to have anywhere near the impact required. It’s also important that support is ongoing, not a one-off wellness day or seminar, but an integral part of day-to-day work life.
This is where Woosh5 comes in.
Our tailor-made “Young & Ambitious” 90-day online personal growth Trek (designed specifically for young millennials and Gen Z), personalized support from an e-coach, and advanced data-driven analytical tools to measure and quantify results (while retaining complete confidentiality mean young professionals get the exact support they need, when they need it.
And “Young & Ambitious” is just one of numerous customized Treks, so you can dial into exactly what each of your employees needs with ease and efficiency. And maximum effect.
Curious to know more? Contact us now!