Millennials - those aged 25 - 34 - are suffering at work more than most as New Zealand recovers from the turbulence of the past two years, according to new research.
The Work Wellbeing Index 2022 research commissioned by the Skills Consulting Group (SCG) shows that younger millennials are 15 per cent less happy with their position in life than the average worker and are likely to look for another job.
Since 2021 their overall wellbeing score has dropped by 9 per cent.
"Millennials are at risk, and we need to understand the potential impact on businesses," says Jane Kennelly, SCG's General Manager Wellbeing. "This will come from understanding what is important to employees and being aware how their needs might change."
Kennelly says this group of employees is made up mostly of full time, office-based workers in professional services or government, with no children. They are ambitious with few ties and so are more likely to change jobs quickly, or even leave a good job with no new position in place; wellbeing at work is extremely important to them.
She says since last year's survey, there has been a 12 per cent drop in 25 - 34-year-olds who feel their company genuinely cares for their wellbeing. There has been an 11 per cent drop in this cohort who believe the company enables them to care for their own wellbeing, and a 10 per cent drop in the belief they are viewed as individuals and offered individualised solutions to their wellbeing concerns.
Flexible working and work/life balance are essential to their feelings of wellbeing, much more than in any other group – and much more important to them than pay.
The findings came after 1834 people working across 11 industries were questioned with researchers gathering some quotes from participants which really hit home their need to feel supported emotionally - and to have the flexibility to make good decisions for their own mental health.
"(I want my company to] be understanding and allow time off/earlier finishes when needed," said one participant, while another said they needed to work for an organisation that would "allow me to have a good work life balance. I have things in my life that make me happy. If work takes up all my life, I cannot access these things."
Another participant said they would "insist on work/life balance support, personal and family time and encouragement of hobbies" from a prospective employer.
Kennelly says none of this means that millennials aren't prepared to work hard. What they want is trust and recognition, access to upskilling programmes and the opportunity to step up, to feel empowered to do their job well and to feel appreciated.
"Millennials are a flight risk, and this could cost your business by driving up recruitment costs and taking valuable IP (intellectual property) elsewhere," says Kennelly. "Instituting a specific wellbeing strategy for millennials could save you money and ensure they see their role as worthwhile."
She says as well as upskilling managers in wellbeing, there are many wellbeing support tools available, such as software that identifies patterns of concern early and an employee assistance programme.
"Essential though is understanding your at-risk 25 - 34-year-old cohort of employees. Start with communication, ask them what they need and then act on it. If you don't, you could see a loss of talented staff impacting your bottom line.
"So, where to from here; we suggest finding out what your employees are saying about their work wellbeing and start considering how employee wellbeing is directly connected to your bottom line.
Skill Consulting Group have a dedicated wellbeing team who can provide tailored advice for your business. Visit www.skillsconsultinggroup.co.nz to find out more.
The Work Wellbeing Index 2022 research is here.