The American Psychiatric Association conducted a survey of 1000 US adults and found that millennials continue to outrank Gen-X and Baby Boomers in anxiety.
According to a recent study by Blue Cross Blue Shield, depression diagnosis increased 33% from 2013 to 2016 mostly among adolescents (12 to 17) and millennials (18 to 34).
According to the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention, the suicide rates for adolescents (15 to 24) and millennials (25 to 34) has increased over 30% from 2000 to 2016, compared to a lower increase in other age groups with some even declining.
The above statistics go on to show the immediate need for greater support and prevention techniques of mental health challenges for our younger and future generations. It demands that we relook the lifestyles we lead, the food we eat, supplements and medicines we consume, our work environments and cultures, our communities and more. While this topic could go across a wide range of elements, this article looks at how businesses can help their younger employees. This is no longer a nice-to-have but a must-have if businesses want to survive against competition and attract good talent.
Most people view millennials as entitled and self-involved, but in reality, they care about self-expression, inclusiveness and value social impact and well-being. My observation is that their values and priorities are different from that of previous generations, and this adds to their inner conflicts with their parents and at work. Parents must learn to let go and empower their millennial children so they can learn to deal with their emotions better, make their own decisions. Parents must help them be ‘optimistic realists‘ so they can become more resilient. Help them articulate their own ‘value system’ and ‘true purpose’ so they can create their paths towards joy and abundance. While all this starts at home, there is much that businesses can do to help their younger employees.
1. Understanding their value system and priorities is key.
Their value system when plotted against that of their managers may show a clear disconnect which causes the mismatch of expectations and differences in working styles and priorities. I conducted an exercise of plotting my value system against that of two of my younger mentees at work and it was clear that my top three values were different from theirs. It was no wonder that some of my ideas to motivate them had not worked in the past. So I set out to assess their personal and professional value systems and identified activities and ideas that would align with them. It worked! This helped empower my mentees.
2. Helping them find their true purpose in life will allow for better understanding of their alignment with the business.
A sense of dissatisfaction and restlessness is rampant among our young teams today. Many struggle with dealing with their expectations of themselves as well as their parents expectations of them. Or their understanding of their parent’s expectations. Not to mention added peer pressure through social media. To overcome this feeling of restlessness and constant dissatisfaction, find your true purpose and align with it. It is what will bring you joy. It is possible that managers are not equipped to help their young mentees find their true purpose so businesses must look to invest in external coaches to help with this activity.
As a manager you might ask what’s in it for the business? If an employees true purpose is aligned with the values and vision of the business, then you will have a passionate and driven employee who will give it his or her best shot. Those whose purpose do not align will leave eventually, disgruntled and disappointed. Help your employees find their true purpose and empower them.
In the past, businesses and their leaders believed that they did you a favor by offering you a job and that working long hours and taking less vacation was part of the deal. If you are not a workaholic, many businesses did not want you. Baby boomers and Gen-X’ers complied with such unsaid rules as norms. These norms no longer apply to our future generations and unless businesses and leaders change their outlook towards their employees, they will struggle to remain competitive. For this change to happen, wall street and shareholders too need to understand this and accordingly change their definition of value-creation. This topic is fairly wide and would require a series of articles in itself.
3. Greater mental health support system
Many businesses provide greater support for their employees by setting up meditation classes, meditation and prayer rooms, allowance for working remotely, mental health day offs, and more. All of these are good steps towards a healthier work environment. These are no longer nice-to-have’s especially when employees spend so much time at work. For countries like New Zealand, where working hours are typically 8.30 am to 5.30 pm, an employee may be able to make time to see specialists after work hours or take a couple of hours off during the week unlike countries like the US where certain jobs are busy from start to end of the day and weekends may be the only time available. If you have children, then you know how busy weekends can be too.
Businesses must also look at using alternative coaching techniques for their employees, including energy science and visualization techniques combined with bio-cognition tools that allow for release of trapped emotions — key causes of anxiety, depression and other mental health challenges. As we release our trapped emotions, and replace them with positive affirmations, our ability to deal with anxiety increases exponentially, events that usually caused us anxiety no longer seem challenging. Some of these techniques are amazingly effective. I commend businesses that are willing to take on such methods and are not resistant to so-called ‘healing‘ and ‘new-age‘ techniques that are showing benefits. Help your millennials deal with their anxieties and challenges and empower them with several tools and techniques.
Not everyone will subscribe to all tools and techniques but allow them to pick and choose the ones that work for them. Empower them.
4. Balancing expectations
There are other ways of empowerment at work and those involve assigning greater responsibility to our younger team members. Many managers complain that younger members are reluctant to take on responsibility and that may be due to misalignment of purpose. If an employee’s purpose is in alignment with the business, then he or she will take on more responsibility.
There is also need for millennials to be willing to learn and be open to learning different working styles and processes that they are not familiar with. There is need for greater balance of expectations between managers and their teams and this can only happen through open dialogue and discussions. A mentoring program too should enable mentors with having these discussions.
Based on a survey conducted by the Head foundation (sample size of 16,000 across all regions of the world), it was seen that millennials across the World are asking for more empowerment. There is a shift happening across the World and while many will struggle with the shift, I believe our millennials will bring about a change for the betterment of society and the environment.