Achieving work-life balance in the age of coronavirus is proving difficult for college students and graduates just starting out in the professional world, one survey found, with many citing mental health services as an important benefit they would like to see offered by future employers.
Even though students and recent graduates have adequately adjusted to remote work, the major concerns with making this shift are feelings of isolation and a lack of work-life balance, according to a new study conducted by Propeller Insight on behalf of Handshake. In the online survey, more than half of 1,003 students aged 17 to 24 who responded said they feel it’s important or very important that their future employer provides mental health benefits.
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“While students are able to certainly adapt to virtual, one of the things that they really want to make sure employers are thinking about are students and benefits,” Christine Cruzvergara, vice president of higher education and student success at Handshake, told Fox News. “Mental health is important now, and I don’t think you would have seen that previously. Employers should proactively take that into consideration before they design a position, before they recruit and as they think about onboarding.”
Just over 50% of all students surveyed hope that employers invest more in employees’ mental health if they’re required to work remotely, whether through online therapy or free or subsidized mediation services, among others. And nearly half of students expect that employers’ human resource policies support non-discrimination around mental health issues.
“With life changing so quickly and all of the adjustments we’ve had to make as a result of the pandemic, from fully-online classes to virtual internships, I was comforted to learn that my peers are also putting a greater emphasis on the need for mental health benefits in the workplace,” Isabelle Jia, a member of the” Claremont McKenna class of 2022 told Fox News. “I’m excited to see how support and benefits continue to evolve to fit changing needs, and how we can continue to prioritize mental health in not only our personal lives, but our work lives as well.”
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The new emphasis on mental health benefits signals that the stigma associated with caring for well-being has also started to shift across society, according to Cruzvergara.
Compared with older generations, “Generation Z” values not only prioritize well-being, but also a more customized work-life integration.
“Every generation goes through this, and now it’s time for Gen Z to define what their work-life balance looks like,” Cruzvergara said. “The reality is that this generation is realizing even more than any generation before is that work-life balance is so individualized. What one person might want in terms of their integration might look really different from how I like to integrate my work life now that we are remote.”
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While some people might want to have a strict separation, others might prefer a more intermittent work schedule with doses of TV and relaxation time in between.
“It’s not just for new graduates, but across the board, employers are going to see that employees want to request more flexible work and to be able to work from home for more days out of the week, even after COVD-19 is over,” Cruzvergara said.
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