With burnout prevalent amongst Generation (Gen) Z, a UK performance learning expert is imploring UK employers to reconsider how they engage staff to protect the future workforce.
Specifically, 85% of those independently surveyed for the research ‘Gen Z’s Great Expectations’ agree that the post-pandemic world of work is increasing burnout and highlights the impact of learning and development opportunities for this generation. Redware, which commissioned the research, suggests this creates the perfect storm for employers when paired with the fact 67% are also questioning their job or their career choice.
Adam Heath, Managing Director at Redware, says employers need to rethink how they improve employee wellbeing and productivity: “Young people are already striving to be our future leaders, so the prevalence of burnout is extremely concerning. For businesses to succeed, it is crucial that the workforce is engaged and productive, something burnout doesn’t allow for.”
The term Gen Z is used to refer to those aged 9 to 24, and according to 2020 figures from Indeed.com, this cohort makes up an estimated 20% of the workforce. However, with many 18 to 24 year-olds having entered the workforce during the pandemic, or been impacted by it in their brief working lives, Heath is urging businesses to consider Gen Z’s specific requirements to keep them engaged and motivated.
“There is potential for this group to feel like just a number – especially in larger companies. Given that many are at a professional crossroads, and questioning what they want from their careers, this is particularly pertinent. If the burnout issue is not addressed head on, companies will not only be compromising their duty of care but will also be at risk of losing some of their most important people,” he offers.
With more than half (53%) of the respondents having been furloughed at some point over the last 18 months, the research also investigated how this had affected Gen Z. Of those furloughed, 75% felt their productivity and performance had stalled.
“It is concerning that Gen Z are uninspired and hampered,” Heath continues. “Companies need to energise, engage, and stimulate their teams through new initiatives, with learning and development being a key way to do this. Those companies set to flourish will be those investing in and nurturing their talent while attracting the best people and remaining competitive.”
According to the survey, 86% say the quality of learning and development impacts their mental health and wellbeing at work. Subsequently, 95% acknowledged the importance of having a learning programme that is tailored to their individual needs.
Michelle Minnikin, Chartered Psychologist adds: “My advice for L&D leaders is to speak to your Gen Z employees; don’t assume you know what they need. You’ll find more engagement and interest if you involve them in designing solutions that work for them – they will probably think of different ways to do things. Remember the people closest to the problem are generally those with the solution.”
Heath concludes: “While this research has definitely confirmed a number of our suspicions, we were keen to get the view of a qualified professional on the psyche of this generation. Michelle has certainly made some interesting points aligned with our view that relevance has never been more important. Customised learning environments allow everyone the opportunity to develop and improve their career. With 95% of Gen Z acknowledging the importance of having a learning programme that is tailored to their individual needs, business leaders and L&D professionals need to act now.”