There has been a noticeable shift in conversations around mental wellbeing in the last decade. With more and more organizational leaders talking about their own struggles with their mental health, there is an increase in knowledge and a slow movement toward acceptance. This points to a shift in how we approach emotional and mental wellbeing across the generations.
What is a generational shift?
A generational shift is a change in the demographics of a population, usually characterized by a significant change in the dominant age group. This is important to examine because as the dominant age group changes, there is also a gradual transformation of attitudes, behaviors, and social norms. This further leads to changes in culture, technology adoption, and workplace dynamics. For instance, a study conducted by the American University in DC, states that millennials who grew up hearing about anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and suicide were more accepting of others with mental illness, unlike previous generations that were unaware of mental health concerns or faced stigma when they spoke about it.
Shift in attitudes towards mental wellbeing acknowledgment
A study on Mental Health Awareness And Generation Gap (2021) showed that younger generations have higher levels of mental health literacy, which leads them to better identify signs of mental health conditions and know where to seek help. The use of the Internet has allowed for anonymous and public discussions on themes related to mental health, like violence, neglect, suicidal ideation, and hopelessness, leading to community support across the globe and resource sharing. The study also stated that millennials who grew up hearing about anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and suicide were more accepting of others with mental illness.
The newer generations also have strong beliefs in supporting organizations, brands, and businesses that create a work environment inclusive of all identities and abilities and support sustainability. This is rooted in the knowledge that mental health can be individual, but it is impacted by social phenomena and structures, so mental health support must also be holistic. Organizations like Yuvaa provide platforms to listen to India’s Gen Z and create content on themes like positive masculinity, consent, and climate change.
Mental wellbeing acknowledgment in the workplace
A study from Inavero and Upwork in 2019 highlighted a big ideological divide between Baby Boomers and Gen X (those born from 1965 to 1981) and younger millennials and Gen Z at the other. Younger generations prefer flexible work hours, remote work, or freelancing options, that allow for greater personal work-life balance and give time to focus on self-growth and wellbeing.
In the report “Work Wellbeing In India 2023: How Thriving People Create Thriving Companies” How Thriving People Create Thriving Companies” conducted by Indeed and Forrester Consulting, a clear generational shift in the attitudes of employees toward wellbeing was observed. There are fewer thriving employees from the Gen-Z cohort of 18 to 26-year-olds (20 percent) when compared to the older Millennials (24 percent) and Gen-X (27 percent). The older employees also express more trust in their employers' ability to prioritize employee wellbeing. 67 percent of GenZ believe their employers connect well-being and happiness to business success.
The APA Stress in America report says that Gen Zers are significantly more likely to report their mental health as fair or poor (27%) as compared to other generations, including millennials (15%) and Gen Xers (13%). The latter trust their managers more and may show hesitancy to speak about their own concerns in a professional setup.
So what does this mean?
It is a unique time for organizations where the workforce has a mix of four generations, with Baby Boomers moving toward retirement. It is a time when corporations will have to quickly grow and evolve with newer progressive ideologies or succumb to their continuing cultures and reach stagnancy. Being able to utilize the unique skills that each cohort brings, and helping them adapt and change to suit the diverse needs of today is the responsibility of managers and HR.
Manahverse is one such step that any organization can take, to provide an array of options to employees to focus on themselves. This platform provides a rich experience of exploring features that suit your personal needs and interests and can cater to individuals across the spectrum of generations. Help your workforce get started on their wellbeing journey today with Manahverse.