America’s workforce is increasingly diverse along a number of axes. Companies are leveraging this diversity by putting more and more emphasis on diversity and inclusion initiatives to help boost their bottom lines. But, companies that strive to promote diversity in their workforces need to be aware of the specific needs and expectations of the groups contributing to that diversity.
While we often think of diversity in terms of race or ethnicity, other factors such as gender, sexual orientation, and age also play a role in contributing to a diverse workforce.
The Emergence of Gen Z—The Stressed Generation
Arguably, individuals within the same age group often have more in common with one another than those in the same racial or ethnic group spread across many generations.
This means that employers need to pay special attention to the needs of age groups—in particular, those newly entering their organizations with whom they may not have worked closely or extensively in the past. Generation Z makes up around 61 million people in the United States, so this is a group employers need to start paying particular attention to.
The American Psychological Association’s annual Stress in America survey suggests that Generation Z is particularly challenged by mental health issues, especially stress.
The survey was conducted among 3,459 people aged 18 and older and included interviews with 300 teenagers between the ages of 15 and 17. The survey looked at attitudes and perceptions of stress in an attempt to identify its leading sources.
Sources of Stress
Common sources of stress included fears over school shootings and general concerns over the direction of the country. While some stressors such as school shootings—aren’t necessarily applicable to new entrants to the workforce, the lingering effects can last for years.
Some potentially good news here is that, in general, Generation Z is more likely to seek out professional assistance for mental health concerns. According to CNN, “About 37% of young adults reported receiving help or treatment from mental health professionals, and half feel that they do enough to manage their stress,”
Furthermore, CNN reports that “Only 35% of millennials, 26% of Gen Xers and 22% of baby boomers reported to receiving help, treatment or therapy for mental health.”
Whether increased use of mental health services by younger Americans represents an increase in mental health issues, a greater awareness and acceptance of mental health services, or both, employers should take note.
Younger employees entering the workforce may expect or value such services, as well as a greater appreciation of, and accommodation for, mental health issues.