The coronavirus pandemic has taken its toll, particularly on younger employees.
Gen Z employees – those born starting in 1995 – were three times more likely than all other employees since the pandemic started to have sought professional help for stress, burnout or other mental health reasons, according to a new MetLife report. Millennials have also been hard hit.
It turns out that using virtual interactions instead of in-person communication has been a big part of the problem. The survey found that close to 4 in 10 works blamed reduce in-person interaction with friends, family and co-workers for harming their mental health. Fifty-six percent of millennials said they felt the same way.
The biggest challenge of working from home, cited by 41%, is the isolation from co-workers. Distractions of the household is the next biggest challenge, cited by 34%. Other challenges include inadequate workspace (19%) and lack of office equipment (19%).
What’s more, 47 percent of Gen Z employees dealing with stress and anxiety said that not being able to connect with co-workers in person as much as they used to was the driving factor. Overall, 34 percent of employees felt similarly.
According to the study, just one in 12 workers who reported not having good mental health in the wake of the pandemic have sought help. About 37 percent of respondents blamed a stigma relating to seeking treatment, and nearly 1 in 10 said they were concerned about discrimination from managers and colleagues.
Younger employees were most worried about the stigma, according to the report, with 48 percent of them reporting concerns. Nearly half of Black and Hispanic respondents were most likely to perceive of employer stigma about seeking mental health help.
What makes a resilient employee in pandemic times? According to the survey, 51 percent pointed to wellness programs as helping, and 50 percent said mental health coverage made a difference. About 48 percent credited relaxation initiatives, and 47 percent said employee assistance programs helped them in their pursuit of wellness. About 45 percent said stress management programs helped them stay mentally well.
About 70 percent of employees said that financial stability also helped their mental health. Nearly half said their mental health stress stemmed from long-term savings, medical and other unrelated expenses and stock market volatility.
The responses are part of MetLife’s 18th annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study, which the insurer said has been updated with a new “Mental Health Deep Dive.” The report, conducted in July 2020, is broken down into two parts. One is an employer survey of 1,000 benefits decision makers and influencers at companies with at least two employees. Separately, there was also an employee survey involving 2,000 interviews with full-time employees, ages 21 and older, at companies with 2 employees or more. Rainmakers CSI – an international strategy, insight and planning consultancy, conducted the report and surveys.