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Number 4 on the Top 10 PM Magazine Articles of 2023 offers tips on how to recruit and retain members of Generation Z. It’s a valid question, given that 2024 marks the year that there will be as many Generation Z adults in the workforce as baby boomers, and that number will continue to grow as the cohort ages.

Known for their ambition to do well financially, their digital and social media savvy, and their drive to help others, many Gen Zers—people born between 1997 and 2005—have struggled with mental health issues, loneliness, and lack of resilience. All of this holds true in a study of 4,000 U.S. Gen Z adults, conducted by Morning Consult and commissioned by The Cigna Group in June 2023.

The study findings, released in the 2023 Vitality in America report, show that Gen Z reports feelings of loneliness, low levels of resilience, and the lowest levels of vitality of all age groups. They also feel disconnected from their family and friends.

The good news is that Gen Z adults are gaining ground in several dimensions of health and well-being while other generations show stagnation or decline. The data suggests that Gen Z would be well served by opportunities to make meaningful contributions and strengthen social connections at work and in their communities. In fact, Gen Z adults who experience higher levels of vitality are significantly more likely to volunteer, to feel a sense of purpose, and to connect strongly with others.

Additional data included in the 2023 Vitality in America report offer insights for employers on how to help this generation thrive at work.

1. Mental health challenges play a considerable role in the lower vitality Gen Z experiences

Gen Z adults are significantly less likely to feel positive about  their own mental health than older generations. They also report lower personal confidence and self-esteem, dissatisfaction with their personal and professional lives, and lower overall quality of life than all other generations.


2. Financial stress negatively affects Gen Z vitality levels

Financial stress is higher for Gen Z adults than stress related to relationships, work or school, housing, or their health. They also report feeling more stressed about these areas than other generations do. Many feel they don't earn enough and express concern over the high cost of living, inflation, living wages, and other factors that contribute to their financial insecurity.

3. Gen Z feels more optimistic about their personal direction than the direction of society

Gen Z adults feel the opportunities available to them are promising (44%), which is higher than the 26% of Gen Z adults who are optimistic about the direction of society in general. In addition, 40% reported feeling in control of their future.

There are gaps in optimism between Gen Z of different races and ethnicities, with white Gen Z adults feeling the least optimistic about the direction of society at large, followed by Hispanics and Blacks, respectively.  

4. Gen Z's social media utilization is higher than any other demographic – which they don’t see as all bad

As expected, the study shows nearly all Gen Z adults use some form of social media daily (96%) and are significantly more likely to use multiple social media platforms throughout the day compared to other generations.  

Gen Z are more likely than older generations to feel social media has helped them to discover new ideas, learn new skills, find new hobbies, and find communities with similar interests. Simultaneously, they are also more likely to admit that social media use has resulted in issues with their self-esteem, difficulty focusing on reality, being bullied, and experiencing negative comparisons to peers. About one in five (21%) say they have lost or damaged personal relationships with friends, family, or loved ones because of social media.

5. Gen Z is generally underwhelmed by their workplace experience

As the newest members of the workforce, Gen Z adults struggle to find enthusiasm for work. While many are satisfied with their current jobs, they are less satisfied with their salaries, benefits, and chances for advancement. They are also less likely than older generations to find a sense of purpose in the work they do. As a result, many feel less capable and less confident in their ability to get their work done.


Significantly fewer Gen Z workers report feeling understood by their managers, and fewer feel their managers are as confident in their abilities as they are with workers in older generations. Compared with older workers, Gen Z employees also feel less close to people at work and are less likely to say they have a lot in common with the people around them on the job. They are also less likely to feel they have autonomy at work, that their work has meaning, and that their job or organization is making a positive difference. Nearly half feel burned out, and the majority have plans to look for a new job.

Interestingly, Gen Z places a higher priority than older generations on developing their skills and gaining expertise, learning new skills, and earning professional certifications and degrees, although they are not looking to their current employer for help in achieving their professional goals, except for earning more money. For example, nearly half say they want to develop their current skills and learn new skills, but only about a third want help doing so from their current employer.

How to help build Gen Z’s vitality at work

The vitality research suggests that many in Gen Z view their current employer as a steppingstone and not where they’ll find themselves in five years. However, employers who take note of this disconnect between Gen Z’s career expectations and the realities of their jobs can help boost vitality at work. Here are four ways to start:

  1. Help Gen Z employees find ways to do meaningful work and make sure they understand how everyday tasks tie back to the organization’s purpose.
  2. Offer development and training programs to build career mobility and see value from their employer.
  3. Celebrate achievements to motivate employees to make time for development.
  4. Train managers to connect with Gen Z employees frequently and informally, offer stretch assignments to build competence, and create opportunities for reverse mentoring to build relationships and confidence.

At Cigna HealthcareSM, we advocate for better health through every stage of life. Through a deep understanding of benefits management in the public sector, we’re equipped to deliver an experience that’s tailored to your needs. Together, we’ll look for opportunities to help improve the health of your employees and their families, empowering them with the information and insight they need to make the best choices for improving their health and vitality.


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