Young People Most Stressed, Study Finds

Last Updated Jun 23, 2011 1:32 PM EDT

Recently my BNET colleague Kimberly Weisul reported recent findings from GfK Research that found "the most highly-educated workers -- the ones with PhDs -- were also the ones who were most likely to be stressed." It's a worrying finding for organizations who are obviously keen to keep their high value, well educated employees happy, but before firms start pouring resources into reducing the anxiety of highly credentialed workers, they should be aware that it's not just PhDs who are under pressure at work.

The same study from GfK polled also determined that when it comes to on the job pressure, another group suffering is young people. The pollsters found that among workers 18-29 years old, 40 percent were frequently or nearly always concerned about their stress level at work and 33 were stressed about their job security. Compare that with 30 percent of people in their 40s who were concerned about their stress levels and 28 percent of people in their 50s.
With older workers likely to have greater family responsibilities and heavier financial burdens, the finding that younger workers are more stressed could be counter-intuitive. A write-up of the research from the British Psychological Society supports the idea that the findings are a departure from conventional wisdom and may reflect changes in the economy. Psychologist Gail Kinman commented:

Previous studies have found that middle-aged people tend to experience the highest levels of workplace stress. This study suggests that younger people may be bearing the brunt of economic recovery. Younger employers may feel less empowered than older workers to challenge unreasonable requests from their employers.
Tom Hartley, VP of GfK Custom Research North America, US agreed that the findings point to new realities for young workers, arguing that younger generation's ideas of work could be partly to blame for their elevated stress levels:
These findings support the view that we have a new, hard-working, but stressed generation of employees who place a greater value on work that they believe is meaningful to society, and on a strong desire to use their skills in their jobs. US employers are learning that it is crucial that the younger employees understand and buy into the value of the company's mission, and create opportunities where they can grow and contribute to making a difference.
Are you surprised that younger workers report more stress than their older colleagues?

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(Image courtesy of Flickr user Samuel Kreutz, CC 2.0)
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    Jessica lives in London where she works as a freelance writer with interests in green business and tech, management, and marketing.