Work-Life Balance Top Of Young People’s Worries

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Thin-skinned young employees are much more likely to be hit by workplace stress than tough older colleagues, with junior staff most likely to worry about work-life balance, according to a new study.

Research by consultancy Willis Towers Watson found that 50pc of so-called “Generation Y” – those aged 16 to 35 – reported “heightened stress” at work.

This compares with 44pc of “Generation X” – those aged 36 to 51 – while just 35pc of the more robust Baby Boomer generation aged 52 to 70  said they were stressed.


Of the almost 2,000 people surveyed, all three generations agreed the top causes of workplace worries were lack of staff, followed by low salaries and small pay rises.

However, opinions were split on the next biggest cause. Younger workers put greater emphasis on how their jobs affect their time away from the office, with 69pc of Generation Y listing work-life balance as the next biggest worry.

Some 58pc of Generation X say it is major concern, placing it fifth in their list of stress inducers.

By comparison, work-life balance does not even make the top five concerns for Baby Boomers, who are more worried about the culture of their company and excessive corporate change.

Work/life balance is a much bigger concern for younger workers CREDIT: ALAMY

Rebekah Haymes, senior consultant at Willis Towers Watson, said: “Work-life balance appears as a stronger stress driver for Generation Y employees, while the characteristics of the organisation play a more prominent role for older employees.”

Despite pay being the top concern across the board, the research also found that younger staff have greater worries about their finances than older colleagues, with 64pc of Generation Y saying it is problem, 55pc of Generation X, but just 38pc of Baby Boomers.

finance worries chart
Relative levels of concern about finances among the different generations

But it is not the money in their wallets at the moment that is the biggest source of angst for the youngest workers; just 20pc of them say they are currently struggling to get by now. Instead long-term finances are a bigger concern as they see property prices rising further out of reach and ponder how they will finance retirement.

house buyers
Buying a house is increasingly seen as unaffordable by the younger generations CREDIT:ALAMY

The findings were backed up by similar research from Investec. This suggested that 37pc of ‘millennials’ – defined as those who hit working age around the year 2000 – said they preferred to spend their money enjoying themselves now rather than saving for the future. Investec said that just a fifth of over-55s have the same attitude.

Declining interest in salting away money cannot be blamed on record low interest rates, with two-thirds of millennials saying this had no impact on their behaviour.

Instead, a whopping 88pc of workers aged under 35 said the high cost of living was to blame, meaning they have little left over to save.

Other depressing insights from the millennial age group uncovered by Investec include:

  • a fifth of them think they will never clear their debts
  • almost four out of 10 described house prices as “unaffordable”
  • a third said repaying debts built up at university makes saving almost impossible
  • almost half said today’s “buy now, pay later” culture had caused the decline in the popularity of saving.

Chris Aitken, head of financial planning at Investec Wealth & Investment, said: “The culture of thrift has declined in recent years among young people because they have become more reliant on debt to finance their lifestyles.

“University fees mean that debt is part and parcel of many young peoples’ lives long before they contemplate taking on a mortgage and it’s easy to understand why so many millennials don’t see the point of saving for one. There’s a danger that this mindset becomes fixed for life.”


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