Mental health has proved to be one of the biggest roadblocks to young people pursuing their passions, with one in five (18%) graduates reporting it as a personal barrier to achieving their dream career according to new research by graduate jobs board, Milkround.
Moreover, with the national average of one in four Brits experiencing a mental health problem each year, the new research shows that Gen Z are suffering more than the national average, with one in three (34%) graduates suffering from mental health issues. With three quarters of all mental health problems being established by the age of 24, the research unveils the importance of companies evaluating the concerns of the incoming workforce in order to support and welcome them.
The research by graduate jobs board Milkround has highlighted that one of the biggest issues for young workers in their careers is a lack of support and understanding from their employers about mental health. Alarmingly, more than two in five (44%) feel they could not be open about their mental health with their employer.
With the worrying rise in mental health issues in this age group, it’s no surprise that they expect employers to respond accordingly. A whopping nine in ten (92%) grads expect their employer to respond, should they raise a mental health issue. In terms of how to respond, 44% expected flexible working options to be made available and 43% wanted flexibility around appointments.
In fact, this year’s graduates reported emotional intelligence, or the ability to understand people’s feelings, as the most sought-after quality in their future employers. A mere 5% of respondents valued a methodical approach in a leader and only 5% want one who has all the answers. This is compared to over half (56%) that want open communication and feedback from their leaders.
Other sought after leadership qualities graduates look for include 38% noting the importance of a positive attitude, and 37% wanting a leader who demonstrates motivational behaviour. One in five (20%) want a boss who leads by example, and 68% said a great manager would encourage their productivity.
After years of education, the transition into the workforce can be a challenging process for even the most confident graduates. Milkround’s research has unveiled that social anxiety has a big part to play in this, with half (50%) concerned about making friends at work and 16% fearing they will not fit in with the office culture. More than the social aspect, imposter syndrome is also gripping graduates as one in three (30%) cite a lack of confidence as a barrier to their dream career.
Georgina Brazier, Graduate Jobs Expert at Milkround said:
“Our research has shown that despite a desire to pursue their dream careers, with 83% believing they will work in their dream industry, graduates are letting their fears of the workplace get the better of them. As mental health issues continue to rise, particularly in young people, employers need to not only have an awareness of this but have processes in place to effectively support their employees through challenging times of transition.
“What’s particularly interesting in our research is that whilst social anxiety is gripping grads as they enter the workforce, with younger generations used to interacting digitally, it’s actually the more ‘human’ leadership qualities that are desirable to them. It’s no surprise then that graduates want a workplace with role models and leaders that demonstrate high levels of emotional intelligence.
“To ease the anxiety graduates may have before entering the workforce and as they adjust to their new role, we recommend they ask prospective employers what social activities and wellbeing initiatives are in place to ensure they find the right fit. Meanwhile employers can take away a need to brush up on their emotional intelligence to ensure they can be fostering better mental health at work.”
The research is part of Milkround’s Candidate Compass Report which aims to unveil the perceptions and expectations that this year’s graduates have towards entering the workforce.