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Are SA’s youth happy or miserable at work compared to older generations?

Employee wellbeing programmes could be a catalyst for change in the country’s labour productivity trajectory, says Floatpays. Picture: File

Employee wellbeing programmes could be a catalyst for change in the country’s labour productivity trajectory, says Floatpays. Picture: File

Published Jun 19, 2022

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How do young people fare in the workplace when it comes to mental health compared to older generations?

Well, according to a new study, younger employees are typically a lot happier.

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The Floatpays State of Employee Wellbeing Barometer suggests that individuals between the ages of 18 and 24 rate their work environment better than their older peers.

This study drew on both qualitative and quantitative methodology to survey the country's workers who represent a broad demographic in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, province and monthly household income.

“The study positions employee wellbeing programmes as a catalyst for change in the country’s labour productivity trajectory,” says Floatpays.

Only 4 percent of 18 to 24 year olds rate their working environment 5 or lower (the lowest ranking), while this figure rises to 20 percent in the 25 to 34 age group, 22 percent in the 35 – 44 age group, and 26 percent in the 45 – 55 age group.

Andisa Liba, the chief people officer at Floatpays, says: “This may be attributed to the optimism of youth as they begin their working life. Young people – owing to their life stage – have fewer expectations of their workplace – because of no or little past experience.”

According to Liba, in order to foster staff engagement and ensure a productive workplace that supports a healthy bottom line, it is critical for employers to maintain and enhance the positive sentiment and experience of young people at work.

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“The key is to understand what is important to young staff in order to prevent them from experiencing dissatisfaction similar to that of their older colleagues down the line,” she says.

Here is what drives a sense of wellbeing and happiness among South Africa’s young employees, according to Liba:

Having a feeling of belonging

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82 percent of young employees in the study highlighted ‘the company encourages the togetherness of its members as a team’.

Financial stress saps productivity, and young employees want support

Younger employees (aged 18 – 24 years) experience less financial stress than their older counterparts but are highly financially stressed none-the-less, and are looking to achieve financial wellness.

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Supporting young employees’ financial wellbeing secures a better future for employers.

Supporting employees in the areas they need will inevitably improve employee-employer relationships, which in turn can translate into productivity gains

Employee wellbeing of young people entering the workforce can create a sustainable, positive change to the country’s productivity trajectory.

The cost of lost productivity is great, and the need to increase labour productivity has never been more urgent. Investing in employee wellbeing – especially when it comes to young staff – is critical.

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