A Whole Health Approach

Young Employees are looking for a Whole Health Approach

Employee stress levels, which dropped slightly in 2021, are now on the increase, and it’s the younger generation who are feeling the greatest impact. 84% of all employees said they were stressed, but this rises to 91% for Gen Z, aged 18-24, and 87% for 25-34-year-old Millennials. We also see unmanageable stress now impacting a quarter (23%) of 18-24-year-olds, along with almost all, 98%, experiencing work burnout symptoms.  

The biggest cause of employee stress, especially amongst younger people is the economic outlook. This where a whole health approach is needed. There is a clear link between stress and financial security, and employees that struggle to cope with stress are more concerned about personal finance; 38% of stressed employees vs 32% on average. We also see a similar disparity between the generations, with 39% of Gen Z and 34% of Millennials saying money was now the lead cause of stress. This compares to 29% of 50-64-year-olds and 21% of those older than 65.

Uncertainty about the future is another major concern amongst younger employees, with 34% of Gen Z citing it as a key stressor, compared to 31% of Millennials and only 21% of those aged over 65. Young employees are also worried about a lack of opportunities, with a quarter (24%) of Gen Z worried about a lack of learning and jobs, compared to only 14% of 35-49-year-olds and 9% of 50-64-year-olds.


This is where we see a generational divide. While older people have welcomed the movement to home-based or hybrid working, some younger employees may feel that their opportunities have been limited by the lack of assimilated learning and social interaction that office-based work allows.

This is reflected in the high rate of presenteeism seen amongst younger employees. Gen Z employees said that for 25% of working time they are ‘present but not fully engaged’, with 20% of Millennials saying the same. They also feel less satisfied with the experience of work, with 48% of Gen Z and 54% of Millennials saying work now feels transactional without the ability to bond with colleagues.

This has profound implications for employers. Although not a ‘Great Resignation’, nearly half (48%) of those under 35 now say they are job hunting, along with 43% of those with children under the age of 18 and 54% of senior managers, representing a huge swathe of the workforce. With little binding them to their employer beyond a laptop and a video conferencing screen, organisations need to move quickly develop a whole health approach to build loyalty and belonging among their employees.

91% of 18-24-year-olds feel stressed

87% of 25-34-year-olds feel stressed

98% of 18-24-year-olds are feeling burnout

40% of junior employees are stressed about the rising cost of living

“We can’t attribute all our modern stress levels to COVID; there are myriad other factors, from the pressure of being ‘on’ all the time at work to the amount of media we consume, through to the cost-of-living crisis. The employer response must be to have a whole health and wellbeing strategy as a central pillar of an overall business strategy. It can’t just be separate, an afterthought pushed onto the HR team to deliver; it’s a cultural shift.

Dr Peter Mills, Medical Director Cigna Europe

“Some parts of well-being strategies aren’t always easy to implement. Typically, we see lower than expected take up of individual Employee Assistance Programs, but I see an analogy with coaching at work from a few years ago. At first, coaching or mentoring was seen as a remedial solution, and people were unwilling to engage. But now, it’s accepted and seen as a badge of honour to work with a leadership coach. The challenge is to take the wellbeing debate, in particular support for workplace stress, and to change the culture in organisations so that it becomes an accepted and open aspect of the way we lead and manage our teams.

Robin Lewis, HR Director Cigna Europe

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