Understanding and Managing Gen Z Sick Leave in the UK Workplace

How Employers Can Support Gen Z Employees' Well-being and Reduce Sick Leave in the Workplace

Darryl Horn, Sunday, 7 May 2023 • 5 min read

In recent years, there has been a growing trend of Gen Z employees taking more sick leave than other employees in the UK. This phenomenon has raised concerns among employers and policymakers, as it has significant implications for workforce productivity and well-being. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind this trend and examine recent sources that shed light on this issue.

Firstly, it's essential to understand who Gen Z is. Gen Z, also known as the post-millennial generation, consists of individuals born between 1997 and 2012. They are the first generation to grow up entirely in a digital world, and as such, they have unique characteristics and attitudes compared to previous generations.

One possible reason why Gen Z employees take more sick leave than other employees in the UK is their increased awareness of mental health issues. A recent study by Deloitte found that Gen Z is more likely to seek help for mental health problems than previous generations. This heightened awareness and willingness to seek help could translate into more sick days taken to address mental health concerns.

Another factor that may contribute to this trend is the precarious nature of Gen Z's employment. According to a recent report by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), Gen Z is the generation most likely to be in insecure employment. This insecurity may lead to more sick leave as employees feel they cannot take time off when they are unwell or have other personal issues.

Additionally, Gen Z is the generation most likely to prioritize their work-life balance. They value flexibility and autonomy in their work, and as a result, may be more likely to take time off when they feel overwhelmed or stressed. A recent survey by the Centre for Generational Kinetics found that 65% of Gen Z employees would take a pay cut to have a better work-life balance.

Finally, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on Gen Z's work and well-being. A recent report by the mental health charity Mind found that Gen Z has been the hardest hit by the pandemic in terms of their mental health. The uncertainty and stress of the pandemic may have led to more sick leave as employees struggled to cope with the challenges of working during a global crisis.

In conclusion, Gen Z employees take more sick leave than other employees in the UK due to a combination of factors, including increased awareness of mental health issues, insecure employment, a prioritization of work-life balance, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, this trend doesn't have to be a burden on employers. There are several ways that employers can manage Gen Z sick leave and support their employees' well-being.

Firstly, employers can create a culture that promotes open communication and encourages employees to seek help when they need it. This culture can include regular check-ins with managers, confidential access to mental health resources, and training on how to recognize and address mental health issues in the workplace.

Secondly, employers can provide flexible working arrangements that accommodate Gen Z employees' work-life balance needs. This flexibility could include remote work options, flexible scheduling, or reduced working hours during stressful periods.

Thirdly, employers can offer job security measures that give Gen Z employees a sense of stability and control over their employment. This security could include longer-term contracts, clear career progression paths, and opportunities for upskilling and reskilling.

Finally, employers can foster a workplace environment that promotes employee well-being. This environment could include initiatives such as mindfulness training, wellness programs, and opportunities for social connection and team building.

By taking these steps, employers can create a workplace that supports Gen Z employees' well-being and helps them manage their sick leave more effectively. Ultimately, this support will benefit both the employees and the employer by improving morale, productivity, and retention.


Understanding and Managing Gen Z Sick Leave in the UK Workplace
Photo by Paico Oficial on Unsplash
#GenZ #SickLeave #MentalHealth #WorkLifeBalance #EmployeeWellbeing
This article was first published on 7/5/23.

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About the author


Darryl is a Chartered CIPD Member, business leader and operational manager with 30 years experience in on-the-ground and strategic HR, specialising in Human Resources Management, Employment Law, Employee Relations and Learning & Development.


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