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Gen Z burnout: How can we design better workplaces to fix this?

By Natasha Ramkissoon | |6 minute read

It’s going to take more than flexibility to overcome this challenge. Natasha Ramkissoon explains how today’s employers can better cater for the newest cohort in the office.

Recent research has revealed that workers under 30 are particularly susceptible to burnout.

In fact, nearly half of 18-to-29-year-olds report feeling drained, compared to only 40 per cent of their older peers. The findings come from a survey conducted by the Slack-backed consortium Future Forum, which gathered insights from over 10,000 desk workers worldwide.


Given this information, the question begs to be asked how workplaces are currently designed and what changes can be made to better accommodate the next generation of our workforce.

In case you missed the memo, Gen Z refers to those born between 1997 and 2012. They are not only the most culturally diverse but also the most tech-savvy generation to enter the working world. To capture their attention and unleash their potential, employers need to address their unique aspirations and preferences.

As a Millennial in the workplace, I’ve seen how the arrival of Gen Z has brought about a new set of expectations and preferences that employers must navigate. They are helping us shift the dial at a faster rate, with their cultural diversity and technological prowess, seeking workplaces that strike a balance between flexibility and human connection.

Organisational leadership expert Santor Nishizaki said: “Gen Zers want to work for an organisation that offers flexibility, a boss who is a coach and a mentor (rather than a technical expert), frequent communication and clarity on how their work creates a positive impact in the world.”

So how can you make that happen? Here are the key areas to focus on.

Offer genuine flexibility

Genuine flexibility is becoming a non-negotiable, not just for Gen Z but for everyone. In fact, a staggering 73 per cent of workers anticipate flexible working arrangements, as highlighted by a report from the World Economic Forum.

However, for this generation, flexibility is an inherent expectation.

The majority of Gen Zers started their careers during the peak of the pandemic, which solidified their need for flexibility.

The positive effects of work/life balance and flexibility on overall wellbeing and productivity have been widely acknowledged. Granting individuals the freedom to manage their lives alongside work responsibilities can unlock higher levels of productivity and creativity. After all, who wouldn’t want that?

Organisational values

Unlike previous generations, Gen Zers are less likely to work or stay in organisations that don’t align with their values.

In a piece for Forbes, leadership coach and author Luciana Paulise noted: “Gen [Zers] want to seek meaningful jobs and be true to themselves. That’s why many leave companies early on in their career if they don’t feel like their values fit in.”

To attract and retain Gen Z staff, businesses need to look at their values. It’s not enough to be purely driven by profit. Gen Z wants to work for organisations that are doing good for the world and are passionate about causes, including sustainability.

Bring together technology and human connection

Despite being the tech-savviest generation to date, Gen Z values human connection in the workplace. They understand technology alone won’t suffice; they yearn for genuine interaction and mentorship from their supervisors and management.

Encouraging real-life connections and leveraging technology for collaboration not only strengthens teamwork but also fosters a sense of unity.

Gen Zers prefer a relaxed, relatable, and creative management style that incorporates technology to streamline processes.

Setting expectations

It’s important for employers to set clear expectations of what is required from Gen Z in the workplace.

Having open and honest conversations about what is required will help with building trust both ways and encourage Gen Z to be and deliver their best. Doing so will help them feel understood, supported, and guided while learning the ropes.

Embrace the why

Gen Z often asks “why” in an effort to understand the relevance and impact of their work.

Knowing why the work is important and how it contributes to a greater purpose helps them deliver their best and feel connected to their work and team. This fosters creativity, challenges their thinking, and empowers them to take ownership of their responsibilities.

Prioritise mental health and wellbeing

Prioritising mental health and wellbeing is essential for attracting and retaining Gen Z talent.

Writing for Forbes, Garen Staglin co-founder and chairman of One Mind at Work, a global coalition of leaders transforming the approach to mental health and wellness, noted Gen Z wants “meaningful impact through better access to resources and prevention, increased awareness, empathetic leadership, and a culture of wellbeing”.

Providing tools and resources to support their mental health and wellbeing can prevent burnout before it occurs. And most importantly, employers must practise what they preach when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) and support for mental health.

Understanding their unique preferences and designing inclusive workplaces tailored to their needs will allow Gen Z to excel without burning out.

By Natasha Ramkissoon, employer brand consultant, Principals



Employees experience burnout when their physical or emotional reserves are depleted. Usually, persistent tension or dissatisfaction causes this to happen. The workplace atmosphere might occasionally be the reason. Workplace stress, a lack of resources and support, and aggressive deadlines can all cause burnout.