Millennial Women Are Facing High Levels of Workplace Stress

Supermajority Education Fund

February 18, 2020

A WebMD Health Services Survey released last week on workplace stress found that millennials said they experienced more workplace stress symptoms than Generation X and Baby Boomers and that women were more likely than men to say their poor physical or mental health was the result of workplace stress.

Respondents to the survey, which sampled 2,000 adults in September of last year, reported experiencing more fatigue, irritability, and frequent headaches as well as anxiety and depression than older generations, which respondents believed to be a result of workplace stress. A higher percentage of millennials than Generation X’ers and Baby Boomers also said they wished their employers offered partial or full work from home options, stress management programs, on-site health clinics, and allowed naps during work hours.

Forty-seven percent of women said they had anxiety that they believed to be the result of workplace stress compared to 34 percent of men, and 28 percent of women said they had insomnia compared to 19 percent of men. Women were also less satisfied with their employers’ parental leave policies, and female caregivers were much less likely to say they were very satisfied with their physical well-being. 

While millennials’ physical and mental health are generally declining at a faster rate than Generation X as they get older, according to a 2019 Blue Cross Blue Shield report, some research suggests that millennial women, in particular, are facing health challenges, some of which are related to workplace stress. When EverydayHealth polled 3,000 women between the ages of 25 and 65 in 2017, for example, it found that about a third of millennial women said stress about financial security hurt their personal wellness. 

Laura Wheeler Poms, Ph.D., an associate professor at George Mason University and author of a 2016 article on policies to reduce work-family stress, said that employers should know their workers’ health could affect their company’s bottom line. High levels of stress could lead to changes in health behavior that can, in turn, “create a decrease in performance,” Wheeler Poms told Supermajority News. “People are staying up late at night worrying about things such as their performance at work, and their productivity is going to be pretty low, and their job satisfaction is going to drop. When your job satisfaction drops, you’re more inclined to quit, and every time someone quits, it costs a lot of money.”

Wheeler Poms said more research needs to be done on the culture of work and organizational support — especially when it comes to women. Ever since women entered the workforce in significant numbers decades ago, women have been “struggling and are still the ones who are paying the price for taking care of everything,” she said. While “we have seen a significant increase in dads contributing,” she added, “we can still do more … There’s a lot of [companies] that could do some more work to make things better for women.”