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June 14, 2024

Poll Finds Many Young Workers Feeling Stressed, Isolated

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FRIDAY, June 14, 2024 -- Many younger workers feel stressed, isolated and unappreciated at their jobs, a new survey has found.

The 2024 Work in America survey, conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA), found that young adults are struggling in the workplace:

  • Nearly half (48%) of workers ages 18 to 25 feel people not close to their age don’t see the value in their ideas, compared to 32% overall and 16% for workers 65 and older.

  • Similarly, 43% of workers ages 18 to 25 feel self-conscious about their age at work, compared with 29% of all workers.

  • About 45% of workers ages 18 to 25 say they feel lonely at work, compared to 33% of those ages 26 to 43, 22% of those 44 to 57, and 15% of those 58 to 64.

  • Younger workers are also more likely to feel tense or stressed during the workday -- 48% for those 18-25 and 51% for those 26-43, versus 42% for workers 44-57 and 30% for workers 58-64.

“With more workers retiring later in life, the demographics of the workplace are changing and younger workers seem to be having the hardest time adjusting,” said Arthur Evans Jr., the APA’s chief executive officer. “At the same time, with increased remote work and the use of new technologies like AI, younger and older workers alike are facing a paradigm shift around where and how we work.”

“To remain competitive, employers should invest in strategies that support their workers’ well-being and mental health to help them navigate these new norms and evolving professional landscape,” Evans added in an APA news release.

Overall, a third of workers (33%) said they are not working in their preferred location, be it remote, in person or a hybrid of the two, poll results show.

About 59% of U.S. workers say they work solely in person, but only 38% said they would prefer to work all in person.

Likewise, 24% reported having a hybrid schedule, but 34% said they would prefer it. About 17% are working completely remotely, and 28% would prefer that arrangement.

More than two-thirds of workers (67%) reported experiencing at least one symptom associated with workplace burnout in the last month, including lack of interest or motivation, low energy, feeling lonely or isolated or a lack of effort at work.

The survey also found that people who feel “psychological safety” in the workplace -- a feeling of comfort expressing themselves or raising difficult issues without fear of blowback -- tend to be happier on the job.

Workers with high levels of psychological safety are more likely to say they feel they belong, 95% versus 69% for workers with low psychological safety, results show.

They also are more comfortable being themselves in the workplace, 95% to 75%, and are 10 times less likely to say they are in a toxic workplace, 3% versus 30%.

“Our survey findings underscore the need for employers to create psychologically safe work environments for their employees,” Evans said. “We know from research that psychological safety not only enhances individual employee well-being but strengthens the organization by fostering a culture of creativity, innovation and effective teamwork, which ultimately helps to improve the bottom line.”

Which isn't to say workers have no hope regarding the future of the workplace.

About two-thirds of workers (67%) believe that a four-day workweek will become standard in their lifetime, with 22% already working four days a week in 2024. That’s up from 17% in 2023 and 14% in 2022.

More information

Johns Hopkins University has more about young adults in the workplace.

SOURCE: American Psychological Association, news release, June 14, 2024

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