The world evolves every day and so do the values and priorities of each generation. From the baby boomers to Gen Z, each generation is shaped by values that define how they approach life, from their work ethics to how they care for their mental health.
Take Gen Z, for example, who have grown up in an era of rapid technological advancement and heightened awareness of mental health. It's not surprising that they prioritize it more than any other generation. They value self-care, authenticity, and social justice. Baby boomers, on the other hand, value hard work, loyalty, and financial stability — even if it means sacrificing the state of their mental health.
Each generation has a set of values they bring to the table. Discover why Gen Z’s approach to handling their mental health in the workplace vastly differs from generations before them.
Who Are Gen Z?
Generation Z includes anyone born between the mid-1990s and the mid-2010s. If you compare them to previous generations, Gen Z is more likely to be socially conscious and individualistic. Growing up in a world of rapid technological advancement and globalization has shaped their perspectives, priorities, entertainment, and modes of communication — among other things. Most of the time, members of Gen Z are careful with their money — likely because they grew up during a time of economic uncertainty during the Great Recession of 2008.
Other common traits of Gen Z include:
- Socially conscious: They’re passionate about social justice issues and they’re not afraid to show it.
- Individualistic: Despite their strong sense of community, Gen Z values individualism and personal expression. They are more likely to prioritize personal fulfillment and happiness over conformity to traditional societal norms.
- Open-minded: Gen Z is one of the most diverse in history, which means they’re usually more accepting of people from different backgrounds and identities.
- Entrepreneurial: Another characteristic of this generation is their entrepreneurial spirit and drive and desire to pursue their passions.
In a 2022 Deloitte survey, 28% of Gen Z respondents reported that they prioritized their own mental health over all other aspects of their life. This demonstrates a growing understanding of the importance of mental health in overall well-being, as well as the challenges and pressures unique to their generation. Thanks to increased awareness and understanding of mental health and better access to mental health resources, Gen Z can prioritize those needs, unlike previous generations who stigmatized mental health.
What's more, heightened stress and pressure put on Gen Z as social media, academic demands, and economic uncertainty have led to higher rates of anxiety and depression and a greater need for mental health resources and support Overall, emphasizing self-care has led to a generation of people practicing mindfulness, meditation, and going to therapy.
Gen Z’s Work Values
Gen Z’s prioritization of mental health can also be found in their working habits. Gen Z prioritizes flexibility, remote work options, and a healthy work-life balance when considering job opportunities, as well as purpose-driven work.
Unlike previous generations who would work anywhere that was hiring, Gen Z usually seeks employment with inclusive organizations that align with their values. Usually, these companies are defined by mission statements of wanting to make a positive impact on the environment, society, or both.
Gen Z is also more interested in entrepreneurship and starting their own businesses than previous generations. To capture the attention of this generation and attract more Gen Z employees, companies will need to adapt. Eventually, they’ll need to prioritize the desires of Gen Z to attract and retain the best talent.
How Do Employers Prioritize Mental Health?
To accommodate this growing workforce, companies need to prioritize inclusivity and benefits that target the mental health of their employees. Fortunately, this is a growing trend among employers. Many employers provide mental health training related to burnout to help their employees, which is beneficial when it comes to recognizing the signs of mental health issues and reducing the stigma.
Most businesses also implement employee assistance programs (EAPs). These workplace-based programs provide employees with confidential counseling and other mental health services.
Flexible work arrangements are also becoming popular and can help employees prioritize their mental health. From telecommuting to flexible schedules, there are plenty of perks that can help employees to manage their mental health and improve their work-life balance.
Some employers also offer mental health days. This form of paid time off allows employees time to focus on their mental health and well-being.
Ways To Manage Mental Health in the Workplace
Although there are plenty of benefits employers can provide to help their employees’ mental health — including their Gen Z employees — most mental health management comes down to advising employees and normalizing mental health prioritization with the following practices:
- Set clear boundaries between work and personal time to prevent burnout. When you have specific work hours and avoid checking work outside of those hours, you can avoid feeling stressed about work.
- Take breaks at work. Whether it’s a short walk, meditating, or practicing deep breathing exercises, allowing yourself breaks can help you come back to a task refreshed.
- Communicate with your manager. Sometimes, feelings of overwhelm appear when we take on too much work. Talking with your manager about your workload can solve that problem in a few ways, whether that’s having work redistributed, assigning someone to help you, or something else.
- Meditate to manage anxiety: Set aside time for meditation that will help you remain centered and focused throughout the workday.
- Connect with your colleagues. Having relationships with your coworkers can make the day go by faster. But having a network of colleagues who support you can help reduce stress in the workplace.
- Seek professional help. Often a psychologist or a psychiatrist can help if you're experiencing persistent stress or mental health issues. Employees can also seek out employee assistance programs (EAPs) at work that provide confidential counseling and mental health services.
You should never be afraid to implement practices like these, especially if they’re in place to benefit your mental health at work.
The Value of Hiring Gen Z Employees
Gen Z isn’t the only one who prioritizes mental health concerns. More and more employees in the current workforce are understanding the value of this act. Not only will prioritizing mental health attract more employees, but employers may find that it can improve employee satisfaction and productivity, thus leading to an overall positive company culture.