Many workplace leaders
have argued for some time now that “the employee experience is the new customer experience.” Happy employees make happy customers, or so the argument goes. And despite focusing heavily on employee experience over the last several years, few workplaces have been able to keep burnout and frustration at bay during COVID-19.
Stats Say We’re Stressed (Millennials Most of All)
By many indications, the impact has been steep. In an online study conducted in the U.S. on behalf of Spring Health, a behavioral health benefits provider, The Harris Poll found that 76% of the 1,136 employed adults surveyed are currently experiencing burnout. Among these respondents, 57% cited worries specific to COVID-19 and 33% said political issues contributed to the burnout. Given the continued COVID-19 situation and political tension, these sources of burnout likely won’t be going away anytime soon.
In a separate survey addressing employee mental health, Gallup looked
at how 100,000 U.S. workers felt about working from home vs. working from an office. Gallup also offered up that age has a big role to play in the overall employee experience
. Out of all the age groups surveyed, Millennials were the least likely to say that they are thriving now; 54% for those who work remotely, and 47% for those working in an office. And despite saying they want to continue working from home, Millennials experienced higher rates of loneliness, sadness, and anxiety while remote working than their older counterparts.
Citing other workplace analysis
, Gallup explained that Millennials had lower wellbeing rates partially because of the lack of financial and professional security. Older generations of workers have built a network throughout their careers, giving rise to a feeling of greater security and less anxiety/worry, which is reflected in the results (58% of Baby Boomer remote workers and 57% of those who worked in the office said that they’re thriving). Overall, a higher percentage of remote workers vs. in-office workers said they were thriving, and older workers were more likely to say they are thriving compared to their younger counterparts.
However, when looking at the specific emotions remote and office workers felt on a given workday, regardless of age, Gallup noticed the reverse: Employees generally reported having better mental health in an office as opposed to at home. Among respondents, 46% of people working remotely said they experienced anxiety during the workday, while only 35% of people who worked on-site noted the same. Office workers were more likely than remote workers to say they experienced enjoyment and happiness during the workday and were less likely to experience worry, sadness, boredom, and depression than their colleagues working at home.
What Can Be Done?
These statistics beg the question: What can be done, and should workplace leaders have a uniform response across different-aged workers?
Spring Health/Harris Poll asked employees for their input on the situation. From the survey, 24% of workers said they believed better mental health work policies would help reduce and avoid burnout, and 26% of workers said having a supportive/understanding manager would help. The Gallup survey picked up on the latter point. Managers who kept teams productive remotely and were able to communicate effectively during the pandemic resulted in their team having higher levels of engagement and wellbeing, Gallup stated. "Engagement and wellbeing aren't about the place. They're about the experience," Gallup said.
While the Gallup survey points to the employee experience overall, there are ways to specifically address the concerns of younger (and older) workers. In researching the topic, I came across this blog post on the HR Exchange Network
by HR administrator Laura Gayle on seven ways to improve the employee experience for Millennials. In addition to suggesting everything from modernizing workplaces to providing office perks, the author argued that workplaces need to provide developmental opportunities to younger workers, including the chance for mentorship. This can provide opportunities for both younger and older workers: Millennials can gain experience and reinforce their network (a concern that Gallup raised), and older workers can give back by sharing their work experience.
But ultimately, like so many things, the issue of employee wellness and wellbeing, regardless of age, seems to come down to something we’ve talked about frequently on WorkSpace Connect — and that’s company culture. While wellness apps
and various virtual team activities can momentarily boost sagging spirits, to improve the employee experience for the long haul, a workplace needs to adopt a culture of wellness, and managers need to be wellness champions and mentors to younger employees.