Wellness in the Workplace: Building a Workplace Experience for Gen Z

Jessie Miño
Jessie Miño
Published on 
7.26.2022

Hybrid workplace team

Gen Z: the new generation, a force to be reckoned with. They’ve revolutionized areas of communication, interaction & publicity. So it’s not surprising that as they are entering the workforce they have some demands. 

Who are they? Gen Z is typically defined by those born between 1997 through 2012. Currently, there are 72 million people that fall into this category, many of which are entering the workforce or will enter in a few years. 

Many within the Gen Z cohort are already in the workforce and unlike their Millennial counterparts, they’re not just settling for what’s available in terms of a career or opportunity. They have much to say, with valid reason. And as workplace leaders, it’s time to listen. 

Gen Z: the Most Diverse Generation

How diverse? According to data by Great Place to Work, 47% of Gen Z employees identify as BIPOC, vs. their earlier generations in comparison.

Data on Generational Diversity from Great Place to Work

A study by Pew Research Center also reveals that 22% of Gen Zs have at least one immigrant parent, compared to just 14% of millennials. With more diversity entering the workplace in the coming years, the Census Bureau projects this generation will be majority non-white by 2026. 

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) is top of mind for Gen Z as they’re seeking roles in today’s workplace. In fact, Robin’s research found that 88% of Gen Z workers said company culture is important to their overall job satisfaction, and culture and diversity lead the ranks of what makes a workplace “ideal.”

As a workplace leader, tuning into this will be vital to help attract & retain current employees. DE&I for this group isn’t only a “nice to have," Gen Z will want to see this in action. Self-identification & self-awareness are big drivers for Gen Z, so it’s only natural that they will want the companies they affiliate with to stand behind this belief and have visible initiatives. 

Gen Z, Workplace Experience & Wellness

Past generations have adjusted and dealt with workplace demands almost as if the choice was non-existent. They’d go to work, aim for the paycheck, and that would help make everything else in their lives better. Not Gen Z. 

Our research shows that 57% of Gen Z are currently experiencing burnout. And while compensation is top of mind, it won’t help combat stress. They are placing their wellness and mental health above a paycheck, ranking additional time off and mental health resources as more important.

This generation is also significantly more likely (27%) than other generations, including Millennials (15%) and Gen Xers (13%), to report their mental health as fair or poor. With that being the case, 37% of Gen Z’ers report they have received treatment or therapy from a mental health professional, compared with 26% of Gen Xers, 22% of Baby Boomers, and 15% of older adults.

“Current events are clearly stressful for everyone in the country, but young people are really feeling the impact of issues in the news, particularly those issues that may feel beyond their control,” - Arthur C. Evans Jr., Ph.D., American Psychological Association CEO. 

It’s not a surprise that this is the case. 

As workplace leaders, we have to be cognizant of the fact that this generation grew up with extra media exposure, and are actively involved in current events, more than many may give them credit for. They’ve soaked in everything occurring over the past few years and they are feeling it. We all are. 

“Cascading collective trauma” is the psychological term used to describe all of the world events occurring one after the other, with no time to recover. Something I think we all understand at this point.

In the well-known book by Bessel A. Van der Kolk, “The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma”, Bessel describes how all of these events affect us: 

“We have learned that trauma is not just an event that took place sometime in the past; it is also the imprint left by that experience on mind, brain, and body. This imprint has ongoing consequences for how the human organism manages to survive in the present. Trauma results in a fundamental reorganization of the way the mind and brain manage perceptions. It changes not only how we think and what we think about, but also our very capacity to think.”

Improving Employee Experience for Gen Z

So what can you do to support Gen Z?

Knowing what is expected by this rising workforce, as workplace leaders, we can start weaving the necessary benefits to support them and ensure they have a positive employee experience. 

Robin’s research highlighted that 47% of Gen Z would choose happiness over money. So, the paychecks - though needed - won’t always cut it.  To retain Gen Z, you need to prioritize wellness and offer mental resources. One way to do this? Create a workplace wellness program.

Data from Robin's report on Gen Z in the workplace

Creating a Workplace Wellness Program

Workplace wellness programs are a great way to offer your teams resources, so they can reset and take care of their mental health. Gen Z isn't the only group that will benefit. People are your greatest asset, keep them engaged by creating a work environment they want to be in.

Depending on your team’s needs, goals, and budget here are a few wellness program components that can work for your organization: 

  • A mindfulness meditation program
  • Therapy resources 
  • Nutrition education
  • Exercise programs/long-term gym funds/fitness accommodations
  • Professional & personal development coaching
  • PTO flexibility, think more opportunities for mental health/wellness days
  • Supported community involvement

Meet your teams where they are and create a program that caters to their needs. If you're not ready to roll out an entire program, that's okay. Start by asking your teams what they would like to see and what would help improve their employee experience. They'll appreciate the clear communication and in turn, will give you insight into what will work.

Prioritizing mental health in the workplace will help you build a strong foundation and better support all of your team members, including Gen Z. We're all human, and deserve to be treated that way.

Looking for ways to connect your teams? Robin can help.