Gen Z at work: why businesses must invest in wellbeing to attract young talent

Keira Wallis examines the new emphasis on employee health and wellbeing, being driven by Gen Z.

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Gen Zers are demanding more from their employers. In fact, according to recruiters, they’re asking too much. A report by the job search engine Adzuna recently showed that vacancies are rising across all employment types except for graduate roles.

But recruiters shouldn’t dismiss young talent so easily. Having observed previous generations experience long-term sick leave from stress and exhaustion, it’s not surprising that younger generations are insisting on more from their workplaces.

That’s not to mention the pandemic, which has triggered feelings of anxiety in young people. According to a survey by Deloitte, nearly half of Gen Zs (46%) now say they feel stressed at work all or most of the time.

So, what can employers put in place to ensure they are supporting health and wellbeing for the new cohort of workers?

Take a digital-first approach to wellbeing

In news that may surprise their critics, Gen Z is not the anti-ambition generation. In fact, they report amongst the highest levels of burnout in the workforce.

Experts have shown that young people are most likely to be putting in overtime, with data from ADP Research Institute’s People at Work 2023 report finding that people aged 18-24 put in an extra eight and a half hours of ‘free work’ per week.

With Gen Z staff becoming increasingly time poor, it’s important that employers take the wellbeing wheel. They should put in place strong policies and wellness programmes that cater to young audiences via the group’s chosen method of communication: online.

Dubbed the iGeneration due to their heavy online usage (Deloitte’s survey shows that half of young people believe digital communication is a meaningful replacement for in-person experiences), healthcare providers must embrace tech to offer Gen Z advice and guidance on adopting new behaviours to prevent burnout.

Digital wellness platforms are one solution. Introducing these are important to ensure people are being supported across all aspects of health – not just physical or mental – and that this is tailored to the individual.

AI can also help employees access instant wellbeing support, surfacing relevant wellbeing advice while providing signposting to services and resources.

With 23% of Gen Z workers saying they intend to leave the workplace in the next two years, we believe it’s employers’ responsibility to create an environment with reduced staff turnover, where employees feel supported and nurtured.

The importance of individualised support for Gen Z

Meaningful work is the new workplace trend, driven by Gen Z. They want their voices to be heard and to work for a company where they feel supported. Indeed, Deloitte’s survey found that 80% think mental health support is important when considering an employer.

With this generation set to shape the future workplace, research has shown that for workplaces to stay ahead, HR departments should be prepared to introduce or change workplace values and culture rather than expecting Gen Z to adapt to the company.

One approach to tackling this is the model through which businesses deliver their private medical provision. At Healix we advocate a Healthcare Trust. We believe this gives businesses more choice and flexibility over what provision they offer and for whom.

Flexibility is key. A healthcare trust allows employers to choose benefits depending on the individual make-up of their workforce, allowing companies to create an environment where individuals feel valued and accepted.

Employers can respond to this through offering inclusive benefits in areas that allow employees to access both mental health services at a time when waiting lists for these benefits are at record levels.

Financial concerns are having a knock-on effect

Employers need to take a holistic approach to wellbeing. Gen Z are feeling the financial squeeze as the cost of living crisis persists. They’re also being disproportionately affected by the economic fallout from the pandemic.

In a recent survey, half of Gen Zs said they live paycheck to paycheck, and UK-based relationship support network Relate has found that 83% of Gen Zers are feeling the pressure to hit life milestones.

NHS waiting times are at a record high, so it’s vital for employers to step in to keep their workforce well. Employers should encourage people to use their EAP (Employee Assistance Programme) which provides financial advice services and debt helplines.

Companies can also offer financial health training courses and self-help resources to support employees in understanding how to better manage their finances. One-on-one counselling sessions can also help employees work through personal issues in a trusted environment.

It pays to invest in your workforce

Gen Z will make up 30% of the workforce by 2030. As a more health-conscious generation, it’s in the employer’s best interests to build a holistic and inclusive wellbeing strategy that will attract fresh talent.

If you’re worried about financial risk, look again. Workers who feel unmotivated and stressed will not perform to the best of their ability, with a 2022 Deloitte report estimating that poor mental health costs firms £56bn a year.

Offering personalised healthcare benefits and perks to Gen Z will support them with the issues that really matter, enabling companies to meet the needs of a generation that both require and expect more from their employers

Keira Wallis, Head of Clinical Operations at Healix Health

Keira Wallis is Head of Clinical Operations at Healix Health. She is an experienced healthcare professional, qualifying as a registered nurse in 2007 and achieving a distinction in a PGDip in Cancer and Clinical Oncology from Queen Mary University in 2018. Since joining Helix in 2013, she has found purpose in navigating the complexities of clinical services, fulfilling her commitment to patient well-being and her genuine passion for innovation in the healthcare space.

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