Generation Y workers are more worried about their finances and have higher stress levels.

young professionals

Half of younger (Generation Y) UK workers (50%), report experiencing heightened levels of stress in the workplace according to the latest 2015/2016 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey (GBAS) by Willis Towers Watson. The equivalent figures for Generation X (44%) and the baby boomer Generation (35%) suggest that younger workers are more affected by workplace stress than their older colleagues.

The study found that the top causes of workplace stress for Generation Y were inadequate staffing and low pay, which mirrored the top two causes across all generations in the survey.  This is followed by a lack of work/life balance and unclear and/or conflicting job expectations whereas for baby boomers it is company culture and excessive organisation change.

Rebekah Haymes, senior consultant at Willis Towers Watson said: “Work/life balance appears as a stronger stress driver for Generation Y employees, while the characteristics of the organisation play a more prominent role for older employees.

“In an environment with tight margins, employers cannot easily manage issues around low pay and staffing levels.  However, they can marshal resources and focus on providing guidance on stress management and coping strategies through their wellbeing programmes.” 

Generation Y are also more worried about their finances than older workers, with 64% of younger workers reporting being worried, compared to 55% of Generation X workers and 38% of baby boomers. However the cause of worry for Generation Y appears to be about their future rather than their current finances, with just 20% reporting that they are currently struggling financially.

The GBAS report also suggests that younger workers are more likely to seek support from their personal network, including their managers, as well as seek professional help and use the services provided by their employers. It also found that highly stressed employees lose almost twice as many days at work to short term absence and presenteeism, and are almost twice as likely to be in poor health and disengaged from their job compared to their low stress colleagues.

Haymes added: “Most employees seek to tackle stress on their own, but education against counterproductive behaviours could prove helpful, particularly for younger employees.

“Companies cannot afford to ignore the issue of stress for workers. To address workplace stress, employers first need to understand its root cause from their employees’ point of view. Those who base their efforts on misguided assumptions risk trying to solve the wrong problems, and could end up wasting money and alienating employees. Understanding employee views is key to ensuring support is directed to known issues and leads to more successful outcomes.”