The global pandemic has elevated the mental health crisis, as highlighted in the Fall release of our volume one 2020 AI@Work Report. Previously only discussed in private, conversations about stress and anxiety have now found a wider audience, especially as workers balance their professional and personal lives while everyone navigates workplace safety and return-to-work challenges.
We’ve learned that mental health challenges do not discriminate, as stress, anxiety, and uncertainty are affecting everyone regardless of professional standing, generation, or geography. Calls for employers to protect employee well-being have also increased, with 76% of workers believing their companies should do more to protect their mental health.
Let’s dive deeper into generational differences as one area where employers can take action. According to the 2020 Workplace Intelligence study that surveyed 12,347 workers across 11 countries, 89% of Millennials and 83% of Generation Z noted that the pandemic had a negative effect on their mental health, compared to just 62% of Baby Boomers. Every generation feels the effects of the pandemic differently and needs different tools to help them manage their experiences with stress, anxiety, and the separation of home and professional life.
For business leaders, a natural response might be to offer a one-size-fits-all approach to employee well-being. Instead, it’s imperative to understand the demographics of the workforce and explore solutions that support the individual needs. One company doing this is San Francisco-based social media firm Pinterest. Though they already provided many benefits, they realized their employees needed more customized solutions and began offering free therapy sessions, four weeks of paid leave for parents, and additional well-being days around holidays so that workers could do something for themselves. Additionally, they developed a multi-week program to address burnout directly, providing books, podcasts, articles, exercises, and playlists on topics that include fixing laptop eye strain and re-thinking to-do lists. In short—they’ve provided something for everyone—all generations and demographics are supported and recognized.
Alice Vichaita, Global Head of Benefits at Pinterest said it best: “We should lead with empathy and work with employees to see what works for their situation. Everyone is going through a different situation, so everyone’s needs are different.”
Generational struggles aren’t the only challenges facing today’s workforce. Our new report, Mental Health at Work Requires Attention, Nuance, and Swift Action, explores how workers at every level of the employee lifecycle and in different countries are responding to pandemic challenges.
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