The oldest of Gen Z (1996-2012) are now in the workforce or dipping their toes in it, but a recent survey says that they’re struggling to cope with the accompanying challenges.
The Boston-based Mary Christie Institute recently surveyed more than 1,000 professionals in their 20s with bachelor’s degrees. More than half of them required mental or emotional health support and experienced burnout at least once a week. Meanwhile, more than one third said their mental health was negatively impacted by their work environment.
What separates Gen Z from previous generations is their almost-symbiotic relationship with social media. Indeed, the survey does point this out, though it also considers how (due to the pandemic) many GenZ’ers are kickstarting their careers from home.
Without a doubt, the career circumstances of a 20-something bachelor degree holder point to a difficult transition for this generation specifically: an explosive mental health crisis due to social media, an interrupted college/early career experience for many from the pandemic, a difficult-to- chart economy, and sometimes enormous debt incurred in undergrad or when deciding to go postgrad.
Connected to all of these factors is the game of “compare and contrast” being made on social media. If Jenny, who feels like she is drowning in the nascent stages of her career, only sees the professional success of her peers on platforms like Instagram or LinkedIn, that will only further her anxieties about not measuring up and about falling behind.
“When these kids or young people graduate from college, they now realize they have to start from the bottom like a lot of us did,” says job search and startup coach Amanda Portillo of Right Step Solutions.
And of course, not everyone starts from the absolute bottom; internships or pre-professional experiences often make the transition from college to the workforce a little more seamless. But everyone’s individual path, finances, and paths differ; trying to compare apples to oranges in that case is a recipe for self-doubt. The fact, however, that Gen Z is being vocal about their mental health struggles is seen by some business leaders as a good thing.
“Many of them are not just suffering but they’re doing something proactively about it which is really healthy and they’re willing to talk about it,” said Kathleen E. R. Murphy of Market Me Too. She is a business and marketing pro who also coaches and teaches.
Whatever the future may hold for Gen Z, their frankness about how they’re doing will continue to be an important part of their professional identity.
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