Year two of the coronavirus pandemic is already revealing fault lines between how the youngest and oldest generations of U.S. employees are coping with the effects of the shift to remote working on their well-being, found MetLife Inc.’s annual U.S. employee benefit trends survey.
Although employees across all generations feel their holistic well-being — which includes physical, mental, social and financial health — has declined, the report showed baby boomers, in particular, are feeling the impact from the lack of socialization that goes hand in hand with remote working.
In fact, more than half (51 per cent) of U.S. employees surveyed in their 20s (generation Z and millennials), say their work-life balance is better now than before the pandemic, while only a quarter of boomers say the same. As well, a majority (55 per cent) of workers in their 20s are happier with their working situation now than before the pandemic.
However, the report also found a majority of respondents between the ages of 21 and 55 are concerned about their social heath, including 67 per cent of respondents from gen Z, 52 per cent of young millennials and 52 per cent from generation X. Meanwhile, only a quarter (37 per cent) of boomers said the same.
Additionally, with the shift to remote working brought on by the pandemic last March, employees across the board are facing mounting pressure from heavier workloads, having kids at home, elder care and a volatile political environment, leading to a rise in burnout and depression, said the survey. Some 42 per cent of employees surveyed said knowledge sharing with co-workers has become much more difficult since the start of the pandemic.
As well, roughly half of respondents said they’re working outside of their normal work hours more often now than before the pandemic. The report also found a majority (73 per cent) of respondents from gen Z had concerns for their mental health, as did 50 per cent of millennials and 50 per cent of those from gen X. Notably, only 37 per cent of boomers said the same.
But stress is on the rise for all employees regardless of age, as 37 per cent of all respondents said they feel stressed while working more than half the time, a seven per cent increase since April 2020, and 34 per cent feel burned out while working more than half the time, which is a 25 per cent jump since April 2020. Similarly, 22 per cent of employees feel depressed while working more than half the time — a 30 per cent spike since April 2020.
“All employees are feeling the effects of the pandemic — but it’s clear that the impact varies greatly across the different generations,” said Todd Katz, executive vice-president of group benefits at MetLife, in a press release. “Employers need to thoughtfully consider these nuances as they start to reimagine the workplace experience in the months to come and beyond.”