Millennials more anxious at work

by | Apr 15, 2015 | Blog

A recent study, Anxiety at Work, finds that Millennials report the highest levels of anxiety in the workplace. What can leaders do to help Generation Y cope? Loubna Laroussi from Cirrus offers some advice…

The multigenerational workforce presents challenges for leaders.  With Generation Z entering the workplace over the next few years, employers will soon have to balance their needs alongside Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials. There has been a great deal of research into how to engage and communicate with each generation. New research from Bensinger, DuPont & Associates (a specialist in employee assistance) now highlights different levels of stress and anxiety across the generations.

Millennials report the highest levels of stress. In fact, a hefty 30 % say they experience anxiety at work. Not surprising when they are never too far from a piece of technology – be it smartphone, tablet or laptop – and the line between work and play is blurred. Add to that the typical Millennial’s high expectations of themselves and desire to be challenged and developed, and it is easy to understand why so many feel pressured and stressed in the workplace.

Will Generation Z and the Alphas have the same challenges in 15-20 years’ time? Or will we finally accept that we are far more productive working with our energy levels, whatever time of day or night that is? It could just be the end of ‘rush hour’ as we know it.

Many of us have created mechanisms over the years that help us deal with anxiety in the moment and put in place rules to keep our personal lives sacrosanct. To many, they may appear rigid but for some of us, these rules are the only way we can come to work energised and ensure we have set aside the necessary reflection time. Reflection time shouldn’t be knocked, and according to Ghandi, is something we should double in time of heightened stress and anxiety.

So how can leaders help this new generation in our workforce cope with stress and anxiety? La noblesse oblige – with leadership authority comes social responsibility. It’s up to leaders to help Millennial employees and future leaders to spot and deal with anxiety before it becomes debilitating and effects performance and health.

From our work with leaders in this area, we have put together some key tips to help develop Millennials and reduce anxiety.

  • Review – Encourage your Millennials to review their most recent project and ask them what they could have done differently to reduce stress.
  • Responsibility – Give them as much responsibility as they feel comfortable with and keep pushing them out of their comfort zone. Doing so will enable them to develop and learn from you and others.
  • Resilience – Setbacks such as having a project pulled after months of hard work are frustrating, but all part of being in an adaptable business. The sooner Millennials understand it’s neither personal nor a waste of time but a fantastic learning experience, the more they will be able to focus on the ultimate goal.
  • Reliance – Adopt a coaching approach to your conversations, whether structured or informal. We know it is often quicker to give others the answers, but in the long term they will only develop a dependency that will increase their anxiety when you are not there to provide solutions.

Anxiety and stress impact not only on wellbeing but also on productivity. Dealing with it helps not only the individual, but also the entire organisation.

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