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January 17, 2023

Meet Gen Z’s Expectations on Mental Health

Stephen Massey

As you expand and refine your mental health programming this year, there’s one group of employees who could be a useful barometer of your success: Gen Z workers. They report some of the highest rates of mental health distress and also put the highest priority on getting support for their well-being. 

In short, if you get mental health right for Gen Z, there’s a good chance the rest of your team will feel supported, too.

Here are six ways to get started. 

  1. Take steps to understand their concerns.  Gen Z covers employees who are, roughly speaking, under age 25. It’s important to know that even before the pandemic, this age group was about twice as likely as the next oldest generations to rate their mental health as fair or poor. A 2022 survey from McKinsey found that more than half of Gen Z workers have received a diagnosis or treatment for mental illness, a far higher rate than their older colleagues.

  1. Offer robust mental health benefits. Multiple surveys show that a psychologically safe workplace culture—and robust benefits that include access to quality mental health treatment—are essential to Gen Z workers. Diagnosable mental health conditions should be addressed with professional care, not just a supportive work environment. Check out our Workplace Mental Health Playbook for a full section on offering quality mental health coverage and expanding benefits. 
  • Go further: Especially when recruiting for high-pressure positions, offering details about mental health benefits and support in job posts may as much as double the number of applications you receive.

  1. Embrace authenticity in the workplace. A recent report from EY states plainly: “Authenticity is the most important value for Gen Z.”  Inviting people to be their whole, authentic selves in the workplace can reduce stress, as well as promote social connection and greater engagement with the job. 
  • Be authentic, too: Authenticity comes from trust and relatability. Consider where you can be more transparent to increase trust, including on matters like salary ranges for prospective employees and policies for hybrid working.

  1. Focus diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts on outcomes, not outputs. According to Deloitte’s 2023 Global Human Capital Trends report, two in five Gen Z and millennial workers have rejected a job or assignment because it didn’t align with their core values, one of which is inclusion. For Gen Z, DEI initiatives are a must-have for many reasons, including the fact that nearly half of that generation identifies as Black, indigenous, or people of color. To make your DEI efforts authentic, identify the inequities in your organization, then be transparent about how you will address them and measure progress.

  1. Help employees find work-life balance. A lack of work-life balance has been cited as another top reason for Gen Z workers to find a new job. Company-wide “mental health days” can make finding that balance easier.
  • Case study: To relieve stress and encourage work-life balance, Eventbrite takes the first Friday of each month off, with employees encouraged to spend time taking care of themselves or reconnecting with their families.

  1. Establish mentorship programs to counter loneliness. Gen Z reports the highest levels of loneliness of any generation. Lonely employees miss a week more of work than non-lonely colleagues and are twice as likely to want to quit. Mentorship has been shown to overcome exclusion, which may explain why it leads to higher retention rates for both mentors and mentees. Women and employees of color are especially likely to credit mentorship to their career development.