New research from global health service company Cigna has revealed that a shocking 97% of young professionals, otherwise known as generation Z, are suffering from career burnout.

Young professionals with their first foot on the career ladder are facing burnout by the age of 24 due to a perfect storm of factors affecting their well-being. Cigna claims that the past three years, from the pandemic to the cost-of-living crisis and other current global factors, have left employees feeling exhausted, overwhelmed and re-evaluating their life priorities.

The report, titled Exhausted by Work – The Employer Opportunity, says that:

The stress of the past three years continues to impact people’s health and well-being, with high levels of employee stress and work burnout, especially among younger workers.

Generation Z (18-24 years old) are the most badly hit, after the research among nearly 12,000 adults showed:

    • 97% of 18-24-year-olds are feeling burnout, and 86% feel stressed
    • Nearly three quarters (71%) report feeling more overwhelmed than usual
    • 44% say work feels more transactional now with less opportunity to bond with colleagues due to remote working
    • 36% of junior employees are stressed about the rising cost of living

Arjan Toor, CEO, Cigna Europe, said:

 Exhaustion from work isn’t new. In previous economic cycles, we have tended to see workers trend back to employer/employee norms and increase time at work as they try to ride out the storm. However, the pandemic appears to have caused a deep shift in these accepted norms.

People in the UK are also struggling to maintain their current standard of living, with the economic outlook affecting many. There is a clear link between stress and financial security.

 Arjan Toor, CEO Cigna Europe

The Cigna report concludes that companies need to act now to retain their young staff, invest in their development, and engage meaningfully in their workplace and broader lifestyle well-being.

According to the findings, two thirds of Generation Z say they’ve spent more time re-evaluating their lifestyle and lifestyle priorities and are thinking about making changes. Meanwhile 50% of 25–34-year-olds say they would take a lower paid job if they could work fewer hours. 

Arjan Toor added:

There’s a gap in expectation between what employees want and what they’re currently getting. In the current climate where talent is either jumping ship if work conditions aren’t right or they’re Quiet Quitting – doing the bare minimum at work because they feel undervalued for effort put in – employers need to step up to retain and attract that talent.

For example, currently only just over a third (36%) said they are offered flexible working hours and location despite it being the top, non-financial criteria for job hunters. There’s also a need to examine the role of the office and ensure time spent there supports productive engagement, rather than the cubicle-led or headphones-on environment of the past. 

More than half of people said the type of medical plan offered would be a decisive factor when choosing one employer over another and 47% want services that help them lead a healthier lifestyle. Therefore, employers need to look beyond their traditional responsibilities and build a culture that supports whole health, from mental and physical well-being to advice and support for broader aspects of their lives, such as access to financial advice or coaching. 

Joanne Swann, Content Manager, WorkWellPro
Editor at Workplace Wellbeing Professional | Website

Joanne is the editor for Workplace Wellbeing Professional and has a keen interest in promoting the safety and wellbeing of the global workforce. After earning a bachelor's degree in English literature and media studies, she taught English in China and Vietnam for two years. Before joining Work Well Pro, Joanne worked as a marketing coordinator for luxury property, where her responsibilities included blog writing, photography, and video creation.