Younger employees feeling more stress at work

The results of a major international survey of employee engagement levels has shown that the recession is causing more stress for younger workers (18-29 year olds) than their older counterparts (those in their fifties and sixties). The GfK NOP International Employee Engagement Survey 2011 questioned 30,000 employees in 29 countries and came to the conclusion that younger workers are feeling more stress at work despite the fact that they are more likely to be free from the biggest responsibilities:

  • Workload management: 39% of younger employees believe that their employer is using the recession to justify asking them to do more, compared with 24% of older workers*.
  • Resources: 34% of younger workers are concerned about having insufficient resources at work to do their job effectively, as opposed to 22% of workers in their sixties.
  • Work pressure: 40% of younger employees frequently suffer from stress at work, while 31% feel obliged to work long hours – both higher proportions than any other age category.
  • Work-life balance: 39% of younger employees are unhappy with their work-life balance (the highest percentage of all age groups).
  • Health at work: 32% feel that stress at work frequently impacts negatively on their health (5% more than workers in their fifties and 10% higher than those in their sixties).

So what do these figures mean for employee engagement, i.e. a partnership between an organisation and its employees in which organisations respect the personal aspirations of their employees who, in turn, are committed to achieving an organisation’s objectives? It’s clear that these negative perceptions of the working environment are unlikely to encourage employee engagement, something that Sukhi Ghataore, Director at GfK NOP (UK) sees as an essential part of business success:

“During tough times, engaged employees and a united workforce are a necessity, not a luxury. Engaged workers want their employer to succeed, want to remain with them, and want to go the extra mile.”

Compared to some countries where organisations reported relatively high levels of employee engagement from younger employees (e.g. Macedonia where 36% of younger employees reported being “highly engaged”), only 12% of 18-29 year olds in the UK reported the same high level of engagement. The Health for Work Adviceline ( advisers can give guidance on securing commitment to an employee engagement strategy in your organisation in order to minimise stress at work – 0800 0 77 88 44.

*All figures: GfK Custom Research.

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