‘Always-On’ Workplaces Have Become a Major Cause of Stress

Millennials and Gen Zs are struggling to switch off, with many feeling the pressure to reply to emails outside of the 9-5.

Around three-quarters of millennials and Gen Zs say that both their workload and poor work-life balance are contributing significantly to their stress levels, with many stuck in “always-on” workplaces, according to a recently published Deloitte survey.

The study also found that nearly half of all Gen Zs and over a third of millennials report being stressed and anxious “all or most of the time,” with many finding it difficult to disconnect from the trials and tribulations of their job.

Although more companies are offering remote or flexible working arrangements than ever before thanks to the availability of video conferencing and project management platforms, the ability to work from anywhere seems to be taking its toll on the mental health of a lot of young workers.

Young Workers Can’t Escape “Always-on” Workplaces

Deloitte’s Gen Z and Millennial survey — which features responses from 22,000 individuals working in 44 countries — found both millennials and Gen Zs are struggling to step away from the pressures and problems of their working lives and switch off for the day.

69% of Millennials and 70% of Gen Zs respond to emails outside of work hours at least once a week, while almost a fifth of Gen Zs (23%) and almost a third of millennials (30%) are sending emails after work hours at least five days a week.

Deloitte also found that “Gen Zs and millennials are reporting increasingly high levels of burnout due to work-related pressures,” compounded by the cost-of-living fears and caregiving responsibilities for older relatives.

Internal and External Pressure to Be “Always On”

Deloitte’s survey found that both internal and external pressures play a key role in stoking the “always-on” mentality — as does a simple inability to just disconnect.

Emails coming from supervisors were cited by 30% of “always-on” Gen Zs and Millennials as the “main reason” for answering emails after work, while 22% of Gen Zs and 19% of millennials respectively admitted it was an effort to enhance their career opportunities.

Over a fifth (21%) of both demographics put it down to general work anxiety, and a debilitating inability to detach from the stresses of the work day.

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Burnt-Out Employees Aren’t Happy or Productive

It goes without saying that “always-on” workplaces aren’t healthy for employees, and they don’t tend to be particularly productive or innovative places, either.

Along with the insights discussed above, Deloitte’s survey found that 36% of Gen Zs and 30% of millennials report being exhausted or low energy while at work, and 35% of the former demographic and 28% of the latter say they’re “mentally distanced” from their jobs.

Evidently, young employees are finding it difficult to disconnect and struggling to truly switch off — so they may need some prompting to do so.

With companies laying off staff left, right, and center, it’s no wonder many are feeling like they have to go above and beyond to prove their worth — even if it’s at the expense of their own mental and physical health.

On the contrary, staff should be both regularly and enthusiastically encouraged to take breaks when they need to, including paid time off and mental health sick days. All staff must be provided with health & well-being resources too, coupled with a concerted effort to reduce stigma around seeking help internally — which often leaves them under-utilized.

Putting staff health first is vital. When businesses end up doing so, they tend to see better results.

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Written by:
Aaron Drapkin is a Lead Writer at Tech.co. He has been researching and writing about technology, politics, and society in print and online publications since graduating with a Philosophy degree from the University of Bristol five years ago. As a writer, Aaron takes a special interest in VPNs, cybersecurity, and project management software. He has been quoted in the Daily Mirror, Daily Express, The Daily Mail, Computer Weekly, Cybernews, and the Silicon Republic speaking on various privacy and cybersecurity issues, and has articles published in Wired, Vice, Metro, ProPrivacy, The Week, and Politics.co.uk covering a wide range of topics.
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