Workforces are presently facing the inevitable reality of having 5 generations at work for the first time in history (Meister & Willyerd, 2010). Discussions of multigenerational issues in the workplace often quickly take the shape of Traditionalists, Boomers, Gen-X, Millennials and Gen Zs extoling the virtues of their cohort. Over the past few years, there has been a wealth of material published describing best practices for engaging each generation in the workforce, from communication preferences to leadership tips and tactics. What has not been fully explored is whether there are generational differences in how the workforce experiences personal problems.
The symptoms of anxiety are often overlooked because they tend to occur within the mind of the anxious individual. People with anxiety experience constant, chronic, and unsubstantiated worry, often about health, family, money, or work (Spitzer, Kroenke, Williams & Lowe, 2006). This type of worry can occur over the course of hours and even days.
While anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in America, affecting more than 40 million adults across the country (Kessler et al., 2009), the impact of anxiety in the workplace is often overlooked. More visible and perhaps sensational problems like violence in the workplace, substance use disorders and suicidal behaviors appropriately receive the attention of human resource professionals, managers and organizational leaders. A look at the economic impact of anxiety on healthcare costs and productivity reveal that anxiety is a formidable foe for workplaces in the United States: