Gen Z Challenging Organizations to Rethink Engagement and Wellbeing

Sometimes I think that Generation Z (my generation) is like pizza with pineapple and ham.  Most people quickly dismiss us as not as good as other generations.  Some believe we’re too self-focused, whiny, opinionated. And a smaller group (often much smaller) describe our strengths such as more tech-savvy, flexible, creative, etc.  Forbes in particular frequently writes about Gen Z in the workplace.  Depending on the article, we’re the most “diverse”, “awesome, “freedom-seeking” and “difficult.” 

Regardless of your current perspective or experience with Gen Z you can expect more interactions with us.  According to payroll company Paychex, members of Generation Z—those born between 1997 and 2012—have surpassed Baby Boomers in the workforce and it is the only generation showing growth in the workforce.   

Though Gen Z may be young, they’ve faced an uphill battle in a short amount of time with Covid disrupting their most formative years.  According to Harmony Healthcare IT, 42% of Gen Z has been diagnosed with a mental health condition. This includes anxiety, depression, ADHD and PTSD.   

Certainly these mental health issues affect people of other generations, but Gen Z is unique in that it doesn’t have a problem talking about their mental health and seeking solutions. Generational differences are a big factor when it comes to mental health. Some people may say “Gen Z is just too sensitive” but it’s less of them being too sensitive and more so them being in-tune to their emotional wellbeing.   And they’re not hiding – 87% of Gen Zers are comfortable talking about mental health with others. Members of this young generation have never been the ones to back down from talking about problems or issues with which they disagree. And one of these is how mental health discussions have been taboo and pushed far away from societal conversation.   

Supporting Mental Health in the Workplace 

Creating an environment of mental health support requires a comprehensive approach that while supported from the top of the organization, needs to be felt at all levels.  Traditional health services like employee assistance benefits or wellness programs play an important part, but so do culture, communications and emotional intelligence programs that help employees build empathy and understanding.    

Many of TRACOM’s larger clients tell us that building the Social Intelligence skills of team and group leaders is crucial to their culture.  Socially intelligent leaders can often respond productively to conflicts that occur among their people, but also get ahead of negative change and the stress it causes people.   

TRACOM’s Adaptive Mindset programs teach practical and impactful skills to change how people think about their work and personal challenges.  They identify each person’s specific Negativity Bias which is how they personally deal with negative thinking.  Understanding the 6 Negativity Bias Patterns: comparing, magnifying, catastrophizing, blaming, internalizing, and assuming, allows for a reduction in stress and mental challenges.   

These type of programs are appreciated by employees and generate measurable improvement in performance.  Managers with these Adaptive Mindset skills are better leaders, reduce conflict and improve productivity.  And those are outcomes that help employees regardless of their generation.