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Talent Management Advice – Manage The Stress Levels of Millennials


I just read an interesting article in Chief Learning Officer magazine about how Millennials are the most stressed out segment in the workplace today. Smart talent management leaders should take note and start to craft strategies for how to lower the stress levels so that they can increase engagement and retention among this key group.

In the Chief Learning Officer article by Ladan Nikravan and Kate Everson titled Millennials Freak Out More they cite some compelling research from a 2014 American Psychological Association study that showed that Millennials report the highest levels of stress than any other generational group. As Theresa Fox, CEO of DeStressify (who is quoted in the article) notes: 

[The American Psychological Association study] demonstrates that millennials are the most stressed out generation. On a scale from 1-10, where 10 is most stressed, millennials scored the highest. Their score of 5.5 was significantly larger than baby boomers at 4.5 and matures [who are born before 1945] at 3.5. Gen X averaged 5.4, just behind the millennials in stress levels. 

The reasons why millennials are more stressed out than their generational counterparts are:

Money – this generation is burdened with the highest level of student debt coupled with entry into a very soft job market.

Work Stress – millennials are in many situations having to adjust to positions and careers that are outside of their field of study and area of interest. They are also the most technology engaged generation that is leading many to risk overload.    

Pressures of maintaining a two career household –Theresa Fox is quoted as saying 

According to a 2015 study by Harris Polls for EY, at 78 percent, “millennials are almost twice as likely to have a spouse/partner working at least full-time than boomers (at 47 percent).” While previous generations had a spouse at home to take care of errands and household tasks, millennials are more likely to be doing it all, leaving less time for activities they enjoy to recharge.

Search for meaning and significance in their work – it is interesting to note that millennials are shown to have the highest interest in entrepreneurship than any other generation. This can be partially attributed to the fact they are not getting the levels of autonomy and their desire to make a difference.

How can HR leaders create talent management programs to combat the high stress levels with their millennials? Theresa Fox makes some smart recommendations:

There are a many stress relief techniques that have been scientifically studied and proven to reduce stress. Practices such as mindfulness, meditation, breath work, yoga, Qigong and physical exercise have all demonstrated positive effects on stress levels. 

Major employers are beginning to include stress relief programs as part of their wellness initiatives. In fact, many offer on-site classes, mobile apps and other training material to support their employees. Mobile apps are geared toward stress relief offer particular benefits for this technologically savvy group who need the flexibility to practice whenever and wherever due to their time constraints.

Stress relief programs can not only reduce the costs of medical care for employers but also reduce absenteeism, turnover and workplace conflicts. They have also been shown to increase focus, attention, creativity, problem solving and efficiency.

It is important to note that this problem is real as should not be dismissed as coddling or over-recognition to a needy group of kids. Taking this approach will be self-destructive for organizations because as millennials quickly become the majority in the workplace they will be left behind by smarter organizations that recognize this problem and have made the appropriate changes.