Mental health is falling, especially for younger workers

How can employers help? Start with financial education, resiliency training

Mental health is falling, especially for younger workers

While mental health has certainly been top of mind for many employers and HR professionals looking to navigate the pandemic, for many younger workers, the problem is becoming much more serious as time marches on.

Specifically, younger employees are more concerned about the cost-of-living, physical and mental health, saving money, and job insecurity and housing insecurity.

So, what can employers do to mitigate these worries that might be keeping employees otherwise occupied throughout the workday?

“Employers can bring in financial advisors, can bring in people who talk about managing money, managing mortgages, savings accounts and all of that, to educate them, not because they’re worried about their wealth but because they’re concerned about their wellbeing and their mental health — because our financial health is connected to our mental health,” says Mary Ann Baynton, director of collaboration and strategy for Workplace Strategies for Mental Health, compliments of Canada Life, in Toronto.

Helping these employees, who don’t have enough experience in these matters would go a long way toward alleviating one part of that mental strain, she says.

“I was just talking to somebody who said that when they were in their 20s, somebody said, ‘You must have a TFSA, you must have an RSP, you’ve got to start saving now or you’ll never be fully independent.’ They thought, ‘Well, I’ll start something small’ and it made such a difference for them because it gave them confidence that they could change jobs, because they had this nest egg; it gave them a sense of accomplishment of being competent with their own money.”

To better support the younger cohort cope with their own mental health struggles, “normalize it,” says Boynton, meaning check in with them regularly.

“For younger folks, because the stigma has been removed, they’re more open about whether they’re dealing with difficult emotions or dealing with a bad day, just talking about how they’re feeling so they can process it.”

However, another survey showed that many leaders are simply unclear about what warning signs to look for among employees who may be having mental health concerns.

Resiliency is key

One of the best ways to managing burnout is by teaching resiliency skills, says Boynton, especially for younger workers who “have less perspective, less hindsight to be able to feel, this too shall pass and it’ll be over.

As a result, the older cohort should be willing to step up and provide any help they can, she says.

“It’s important that we look at how our teams can be more resilient, more supportive of each other, regardless of what generation you’re in, regardless of what your role is, [and] we start to have each other’s back, because that is what sustains all of us.

“Doing so gives the more seasoned workers a mentorship type of role but it also gives the newer workers those protective factors,” she says.

Many younger jobseekers are also finding that too much experience is being asked of them in job want ads, leaving them increasingly frustrated.

Latest stories