Gen Z Mental Health Needs in the Workforce

As Gen Z enters the workforce and Baby Boomers retire, it’s critical for organizations to offer mental health and wellness benefits that address Gen Z’s needs.

Baby Boomers and Gen Z Overview

In the workplace today, the gap between the oldest and youngest generation is wider than ever.

Baby BoomersGen Z
Born between 1946 and 1964Born between 1997 and 2012
Born after World War II, Baby Boomers are entwined with Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, and JFK. This was an age of jukeboxes and poodle skirts that transitioned to bell bottoms and peace signs. They lived through the Cold War, the British invasion of the Beatles, the civil rights movement, the moon landing, and the Vietnam War.Growing up in the 2000s, Gen Z is the first generation to be fully immersed in the age of the internet, smart phones, social media, reality TV, and online influencers. However, Gen Z has seen their share of intense moments of change and unrest, including 9/11, global warming, mass shootings, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

How Have Cultural Experiences and Critical Events Shaped Gen Z’s Mental Health?

The Pandemic

The pandemic had an immense effect on Gen Z’s mental health. From elementary school through college, these young students navigated remote learning for the first time and experienced social isolation from friends, teachers, and classmates during their formative years.

In addition, many Gen Zers began their internships and careers in a fully remote setting. This drastically changed their new employee onboarding experience from previous generations entering the workforce.

Social Media & Internet Access

Gen Z has the distinction of being the first generation to grow up in the digital age.

Although social media and access to the internet can offer connections, on the flip side, this can also cause feelings of isolation and negative comparisons that can lead to anxiety and depression. It is also common for Gen Z to spend less time with people and more time engaging with screens – even when spending time with others.

In addition, through growing up with the 24-7 news cycle and the internet, they have been exposed to an overwhelming amount of information and alarming news stories from early on in their lives. This can be stress-inducing.

Gen Z Mental Health Overall

While it’s not surprising due to the factors above, according to a survey from The American Psychological Association, Gen Z reports issues with mental health at a higher rate than other generations.

However, it’s also important to note they’ve grown up in a time where mental health is more openly discussed and there’s less stigma around seeking help than in previous generations.

What Is Gen Z’s Attitude Toward Mental Health Treatment?

Although Gen Z grapples with difficult mental health situations, they are more likely to access help for their mental health issues, which is promising.

Comparing Gen Z and Baby Boomers on Job Satisfaction and Mental Health/Wellness Benefits

Now that we have established a profile on Gen Z and their overall mental health, let’s see how Gen Z and Baby Boomers compare in terms of attitudes towards workplace satisfaction and benefits that HR and wellness leaders should know.

Gen Z and Baby Boomers on Depression from Work

When looking at mental health issues from work, Gen Z has reported feeling depressed from their jobs at a rate that is higher than other generations, including Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers.

Baby Boomers and Gen Z on Job Satisfaction Factors

Baby BoomersGen Z
Flexible work options (76%)Flexible work options (83%)
Flexible paid time off/vacation (66%)Flexible parental leave options (66%)
Flexible parental leave options (60%)Flexible paid time off/vacation (65%)
Team recognition programs (60%)Upskilling opportunities (63%)
Mental health resources (57%)Diversity, equity, and inclusion programs (62%)

What Do Baby Boomers and Gen Z Rank as The Most Important Mental Health Benefit?

Baby BoomersGen Z
Dedicated office space for meditation or decompression at the top of their list (57%)Insurance coverage for mental health services (53%)
Insurance coverage for mental health services (56%)Dedicated workplace therapist or counselor (51%)
Mental health workshops (46%)Dedicated office space for meditation or decompression room (49%)
Dedicated workplace therapist or counselor (44%)Mental health workshops (47%)
Mental health first-responders (40%)Mental health first-responders (46%)

How Should HR Approach Mental Health & Wellness Benefits for Their Employees Going Forward?

1. Offer the Mental Health Resources Your Employees Want and Need

As Gen Z becomes a fixture in the workforce, it’s critical for HR to offer mental health tools to support their wellbeing. Although it’s surprising due to the differences in ages and experiences, Gen Z and Baby Boomers rated the same mental health resources in their top 3.


Employees value having mental health services covered by insurance. This is important to reduce the financial barrier to mental health access. As more Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, making mental health services accessible to employees will become increasingly critical.

Partnering with an EAP Program that covers a number of therapy sessions for your employees helps take the financial burden away that is often an obstacle for your team members.

Thus, employees receive the help they need to thrive in life and at work.

Keep in mind that Gen Z is open to self-help resources. That’s why it’s important your EAP is constantly innovating with helpful and intuitive digital tools such as self-assessments, webinars, articles, and more that they can access when they feel inclined.


Technological advances are important, but they are not a replacement for human interaction. It’s evident that employees want to speak with therapists who can help guide them.

Having a people-first EAP program that your employees can call and immediately connect with a compassionate counselor can make a monumental difference in patient outcomes.


Creating a safe and inviting space where your employees can go to take a moment to relax and meditate can help employees recharge and be more productive.

This space can also be where employees can participate in Carebridge educational webinars and other digital offerings during breaks.

2. Encourage Flexible Work, Parental Leave, and Paid Time Off

Although at different stages in both their careers and personal lives, Baby Boomers and Gen Z all agree on the top three factors that contribute to employee job satisfaction. In order to keep and retain new talent, it’s important that your company contributes to employee work-life balance. Which means, encouraging their use of PTO and not penalizing employees for taking it.

3. Commit to Creating a Diverse and Inclusive Workforce

When surveyed, 3 in 4 Gen Z job seekers were concerned about joining a workplace they didn’t feel comfortable being open with their identities.

As 36% of Gen Z students and graduates identify as LGBTQ+, it is imperative that HR creates a culture that is inclusive. HR leaders cannot ignore diversity and inclusion, or they risk losing out on top talent and the opportunity to create a vibrant, healthy, and diverse culture where employees can thrive.

4. Actively Promote Benefits All Year Round

Offering robust mental health and wellness benefits are critical, but this is only part of the equation.

HR and wellness leaders have an opportunity to play a pivotal role in actively promoting benefits and reducing mental health stigma.

Below are a few examples of how this can be accomplished:


  • Ensure leadership promotes a culture of collaboration and work-life balance
  • Promote an inclusive culture
  • Create diverse teams
  • Ensure LGBTQ+ employees have representation in leadership
  • Provide and promote a comprehensive EAP program
  • Offer flexible working options including remote work options and flexible arrangements for making up time for doctor’s appointments, childcare, etc.
  • Offer robust manager trainings
  • Provide sufficient paid time off and remove cumbersome policies around taking PTO
  • Enforce mandatory breaks


  • Help managers build empathy and emotional intelligence
  • Educate managers on how to identify employees who are struggling with mental health issues
  • Empower managers to approach team members from a place of compassion and connect them with the support they need


  • Regularly share your EAP’s upcoming events and content with employees
  • Promote the use of their member website and app
  • Encourage mental health and wellness challenges to increase utilization
  • Host a lunch and learn where a helpful webinar is screened