The Global Benefits Attitudes Study from Willis Towers Watson (WTW), which surveyed 2,824 employees at medium and large private sector companies in the UK, found 61% of Millennials suffer high or above average stress, compared with 33% of Boomers and 50% of Generation X. Millennials have frequently been labelled the most stressed generation and this is further highlighted by the fact 34% say they’ve suffered from severe stress, anxiety or depression in the last two years. This figure drops to 28% among Generation X workers and 20% among Boomers.
But there are also encouraging signs, as Millennials are significantly more likely to talk about stress or mental health problems, with 48% saying they would seek support from family, friends or co-workers, compared to 32% of Generation X and 21% of Boomers. More than a quarter (27%) of Millennials would seek support from their manager, compared to 18% of Generation X and 6% of Boomers, and 41% would seek external help – for example, from a medical professional – compared to 33% of Generation X and 28% of Boomers. “There has been an encouraging growth in awareness around issues of stress and mental health in the workplace, and an increasing number of employers are taking positive action to address these problems,” said Mike Blake, wellbeing lead for Willis Towers Watson. “However, the significant variation in stress levels highlights the need for such action, where possible, to be tailored to the requirements of different demographics. Millennials, for example, face a variety of unique pressures – the immediacy and convenience of modern technology makes it harder to escape work pressures and this generation have been shown to strive for perfectionism more than previous ones.
“Since the root causes of stress and mental health issues will differ, so too will the support needs. Millennials are happy to talk about their problems, so may respond well to counselling or therapy, but different people will respond to different stimuli, so a best-practice approach to mental health should cover a wide range of initiatives that might include everything from exercise schemes to treatment from professionals.”
There are further differences in coping strategies, with 64% of Millennials saying they indulge themselves as a way to tackle stress and 54% treating themselves to retail therapy. These figures drop to 53% and 44% respectively among Generation X, and 33% and 35% among Boomers.
The research also revealed a gender divide, with women appearing to struggle more with stress. Almost three-fifths (58%) of all women surveyed claim to suffer from high or above average stress, and 37% say they’ve suffered from severe stress, anxiety or depression in the last two years. The figures for men are 48% and 24% respectively.