With Work From Home being such a major attraction to younger employees, recent research shows recognition and loneliness as major issues to be addressed to keep Generation Z engaged. Zoomers and Boomers can’t be managed the same.

Recent research in the UK looked at the differences between engaging younger team members, the under 30s that fall into the Generation Z (Zoomer) category, and the Boomer generation of over 55s. There were marked differences that were even more pronounced because of the increased likelihood of people being in a Work from Home (WFH) situation.

I’ve been in recruitment now for almost 30 years and, despite my youthful looks, I only missed out on being a Boomer by a couple of years. I fall nicely into, what I consider, the rather cooler sounding Generation X.

As a recruiter I know we tend to feel more comfortable with our peer group. Earlier on in my career, I would have been at home recruiting helpdesk support roles and grad software developers. Now I prefer C-suite roles, IT management and senior engineering positions. But as a Team Manager sticking to your peer group is generally not a good strategy and recruiting and motivating Zoomers is essential.

Embracing Gen Z values at work may seem tricky, but the payoffs are huge. When we invest in their happiness and shift to align with their values, we can attract top talent, boost productivity, and enhance innovation.

Hopefully it is rewarding and good fun, but it’s not easy….

You see, there is a conundrum. WFH plays a major part in attracting Zoomer talent, with an amazing 82% saying that they prefer working from home to going back to the office, yet 1 in 4 of them working remotely workers also admitted to being lonely and over half of Zoomer workers felt their work went unrecognized.

The research from the UK suggests Zoomers are demanding recognition and rewards for their work or they’re more likely to quit (22%) than any other generation workforce. Without this recognition, a third say they’re lonely in the workplace – the most of all age groups, and over three times more than the Boomers aged 55+ at only 9%.

Generation Z also find the workplace tough. Over half of Zoomer workers are frequently stressed (54%) or overwhelmed (46%) at work – more than all other generations. The same is true with burnout (43%) – which they feel more than twice as much as Boomers.

Now, sick leave has hit its highest level in 10 years as more Gen Z employees enter the workforce. They tend to deal with stress by taking unplanned mental health days off.  Dealing with stress this way highlights the huge contrast between today’s oldest and youngest workers: Boomers take an average of just a 1/3rd of the mental health days of Gen Z, with almost three quarters (74%) taking none at all.

Time for emotional support managers?

Gen Z are looking to their managers for support with their stress and burnout – a marked shift from my days when bosses were there to haul you over the coals if you’d made an error and drag you into the office and read you the riot act if you were late. My apologies to my former managers, barring one notable exception, you were great ????.

Currently, less than a fifth (19%) feel very supported by their managers – the least of any generation.

So, it’s up to today’s managers to support wellbeing and secure loyalty. 80% say their manager and workplace positively impacts their wellbeing and 94% have suggestions to make that happen – namely more recognition and more regular check-ins. Both are more than any other generation.

Let’s look specifically at the Work From Home aspect.

This year I’ve managed to work from both Vanuatu and Melbourne, but the reality is I’m most likely working from the comfort and confines of my own home office. While there are pros and cons to both remote and office working, the challenges for both are distinct.

I’m perfectly happy as my home office is a separate space, quiet, private, and with the technology and tools I’m used to in my corporate space. It must be remembered that many people do not have the same facilities, perhaps sharing a house, or working from a bedroom or dining room table.

There’s no doubt working from home full time can save some employees a lot of time and money. The costs of commuting and buying lunch every day quickly rack up, and so the boost to an individual’s financial wellbeing when working from home can’t be understated.

But working from home ultimately reduces face-to-face interaction between employees, limiting those opportunities for teams to forge closer connections. It hasn’t helped that this is also occurring at the same time that many are reducing their spending on socialising as a result of the cost-of-living crisis. For some, interacting with peers provides an opportunity to build connections and de-stress that may not be as regular as in their personal lives. It’s hard to deny the growing trend of loneliness in those working from home.

And it’s not just the social aspect of interacting with others that WFH staff might be missing out on. Disjointed communication around work matters, and a lack of recognition for efforts can lead some employees to feeling disillusioned with the work they are doing and unable to see the impact they are having in the business. Remembering, 54% of the employees surveyed in the report believed that improved recognition would help them to feel more connected to the business. This is an area, however, that is easily neglected in the world of remote work.

What can you do?


So, what can you do to support those working from home feeling isolated and lonely?  Summoning everyone back to the office certainly isn’t advisable, but revisiting your wellbeing programme and incorporating some of the following strategies can be a quick and impactful way to support your work-from-home staff.

A key factor is awareness. It’s ½ the battle right there. If you spread the message to your team that you are aware, and reduce the stigma associated with loneliness you instantly make Work from Home a better place to work. The best way to find out how widespread feelings of loneliness are in your company is simply to ask.

By creating an environment where you recognise loneliness could be an issue, you encourage people to communicate it when they are experiencing difficulties.

The next step is to have some meaningful wellbeing support. Wellbeing is about the three pillars: mental, physical, and financial. If all three are solid you will a connected and resilient person.

Your wellbeing support could be in the form of a repository for information supporting these three pillars. It might be an HR initiative, or it might be an external organisation such as EAP designed to provide these services.

An effective wellbeing programme benefits all staff, regardless of whether they’re remote, hybrid or office based. Offering mental wellbeing support can be crucial when it comes to helping staff who are feeling lonely working from home. Of the employees who rated the support they receive as “excellent” or “good”, only 17% said they often felt lonely at work. This is a stark contrast to the 42% who received poor support and admitted to frequently experiencing loneliness at work.


As mentioned, improved recognition within the workplace was top of the bill for employees to drive better connections. By providing reward and recognition tools, you can empower employees to celebrate their peers’ contributions and be recognised by leadership. This makes it easier to draw clear links between the work of your employees and the success of the organisation and makes work more meaningful – something 26% of respondents said it would help them feel better connected to their peers and employer.

Creating a community of continuous recognition at your organisation can be even more beneficial for remote staff, who often miss out on the opportunity to receive gratitude and praise for their work in person.

Celebrating wins both big and small are a great way to bring employees together – and to spread the news of good work across teams and departments, which helps employees connect with the wider business. Birthdays and work anniversaries are one thing, but why not give your team the opportunity to celebrate a good job well done on the latest report or presentation? A coffee morning, morning tea, just a reason to get together and celebrate in-person for a short time, kills two birds with one stone – recognition and loneliness all in one.

Managers certainly have their work cut out with Gen Z. Will we look back on these times with fondness compared to managing the next generation – Generation Alpha.  Generation Alpha’s will start entering the workforce in 2028 so we have a little time yet!

Feel free to contact me for more information or any of the facts and figures quoted and their sources.

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