Skip to main content

Workplace stress and the millennial

Adriana is the Graduate Talent Acquisition Adviser at Deloitte New Zealand and looks after Graduate & Intern Recruitment nationally. She is an advocate for sustainable business, mental health, and inclusive work practices, as well as a lover of animals and music.

According to the 2020 Deloitte Global Millennial survey, 48% of Gen Z and 44% of millennial respondents said they’re stressed all or most of the time. A third of millennials said they’ve called off work in the past year because of it. With millennials accounting for half of the workforce, this is a significant amount of work output lost each year.

Personally, I know all too well the feeling of a Sunday night spent thinking of the week ahead; I often get what is called the “Sunday scaries.”  “Sunday scaries” for me means worrying about the work I will have to do tomorrow and not giving myself the chance to relax. That’s one of the challenges of working in a high-performing culture – it can be really rewarding but it can also mean working in an environment where you feel the pressure to perform to the best of your ability all the time. This kind of stress may sound all too familiar for a lot of millennials and Gen Zs.

So, how can employers better support their millennial employees experiencing these heightened stress levels?


Millennials and Gen Zs appreciate the option to work from home. The 2020 Deloitte Global Millennial Survey stated that “nearly seven in 10 millennials said the option of working from home in the future— and avoiding commutes—would relieve stress.” During the ongoing pandemic, we have seen how well people can adapt to working from home and how businesses can support this. But this is about more than just having the flexibility to work from home; this is about having the trust that you will do the work. Flexibility in the workplace allows employees to make choices about which working conditions suit them. This can help employees maintain a work / life balance, which can ultimately help with workplace stress. Something as small as coming into the office a little bit later can change an employee’s outlook on the day.

Time to chill

I once read that taking at least twenty minutes of your day to walk or sit somewhere that makes you feel connected with nature can significantly lower both your feelings of stress and your stress hormone levels. In other words, we should be encouraging employees to “take a nature pill.” We should be encouraging employees to take regular breaks and have some time outside during the workday. This could even take the form of a walking meeting or a catch-up outside. This is a low-cost option to reduce stress and other negative health impacts from indoor lifestyles dominated by screen time.

During my three years at Deloitte, I have had many moments where I’ve felt under pressure. Running our graduate and intern campaign is often the busiest time of year for me and in the past has had me feeling anxious and rundown. Some of the smaller mundane tasks like organising catering for event can seem stressful in comparison to the large chunks of work where my responsibility really lies. The pressure of a high performing culture has me always wanting my work to be perfect, as people are expecting the best.

Deloitte and the People and Performance team have been nothing but supportive of me in times of heightened expectation. My manager has allowed me to have flexible start and finish times as well as the ability to work from home. What has been beneficial for me is to have someone to talk to who understands me when I do feel affected by stress. My team have all been supportive by offering to help, as well as being there to listen.

The Deloitte Global Millennial Survey reflects many of our realities – so what comes next? Maybe a nature pill or two.

Millennials and Gen Zs hold the key to creating a “better normal”. Explore more about the Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2020.