Younger workforce feeling the pressure

SME Publications/ SME XPO 2024

Four in five Gen Zs would rather work overtime than reduce their workload and see their pay decrease, according to a national survey of 2,000 working adults.

Researchers discovered that they are working on average 27 hours overtime per month – equivalent to nearly seven hours of unpaid work a week – or 13.5 extra days a year, which surpasses all other generations, nearly doubling that of the so-called Baby Boomers.

Amid unwavering economic uncertainty and a persistent cost of living crisis, Resource Solutions’ data highlights that the youngest generation may be compromising their mental health and personal wellbeing by dedicating an additional day’s worth of working hours to their week.

Additionally, over a third express discomfort when taking a mental health day, underscoring the lingering stigma around mental health in the workplace.

Other generations displayed a much more relaxed attitude when it came to work-life boundaries. Boomers proved to be the most likely to visit the gym during working hours, with a fifth incorporating exercise into every working day.

This compares to just 13 per cent of Gen Z and 10 per cent of Millennials, suggesting that other generations may be neglecting opportunities to improve their physical well-being during the workday in favour of perceived employment priorities.

Resource Solutions’ Managing Director EMEA Kristen Buckheit said: “Our research suggests Gen Zs are struggling to set healthy work boundaries, which may be fuelled by concerns around financial stability and job security.

“It’s worrying to see that even when presented with the opportunity to alleviate workplace pressures and claim back some of their downtime, many young employees are not financially able to afford a better work / life balance.

“As a first step, employers must acknowledge and address the prevalence of overtime. Proactively implementing concrete measures such as setting realistic workload expectations is key to ensuring the demands placed on employees align with manageable work hours.

“What’s more, by championing a balanced approach to work, employers can also cultivate a more agreeable professional environment and improve talent attraction and retention. Too many companies take advantage of young graduates’ zest for career progression by overworking them, which only feeds into the necessity for Gen Zs to fulfil their reputation as job-hoppers.”

SME Publications/ SME XPO 2024