By Marcus Leach

More than 2.4 million young British workers aged 18-29 are suffering from stress and believe that their bosses are pressuring them to bear the brunt of recovery from recession, new research from leading market research agency, GfK NOP Engage, suggests.

The study, part of a global report carried out among 30,000 workers in 29 countries around the world, reveals that two fifths of UK employees aged 18-29 (40 per cent) feel frequently or always stressed at work.

This is in stark contrast to the nation’s oldest workers, with just one in four of those in their 60s (24 per cent) reporting frequently or always feeling stressed.

And the cause appears to be businesses tightening their belts, putting pressure on the youngest and most junior members of the workforce.

More than 2.4 million - 39 per cent - of British workers aged 18-29 claim that their employer is using the recession to ask them to do more, compared to just 29 per cent of their sixty-something colleagues. And nearly one in three feels stressed, due to lack of resources to do their jobs effectively (32 per cent) or coming under pressure to work long hours (31 per cent).

As a result, young employees are paying a heavy price with their health and wellbeing.

More than 1.5 million young British workers (25 per cent) admit that they are frequently or nearly always affected by the toll work takes on their physical health, while two fifths (39 per cent) feel that their work-life balance frequently or nearly always is a concern.

Yet putting pressure on younger workers may be a false economy — one that brings significant long-term costs for businesses.

The report reveals that 5.4 million British workers aged under 30 are less than highly engaged with their employers — that’s nearly nine out of 10 - while their colleagues in their 60s are notably more engaged.

And this stands to impact on the international performance of UK Plc., with the country ranked just 17th (out of the 29 markets surveyed), for engagement of their young workers with their employer; far behind Macedonia, France and Turkey, Mexico, and the USA, who take the top five places in the ranking.

Explaining the figures, Sukhi Ghataore, Director at GfK NOP Engage, said:

"Businesses that view young staff as cheap and expendable may well come to count the cost. In the UK, we have a recognized ageing population and so the younger generations are becoming exponentially more important in the workplace, as well as to the nation — they are not only companies’ future talent, but also represent the future financial stability of Britain. It is therefore crucial that they are nurtured, to encourage maximum productivity and retention.

“On the one hand, a largely disengaged workforce has an immediate, negative impact on productivity and morale, and it has a longer term impact on recruitment and retention.

“On the other hand, we have a precious core of young British workers who class themselves as ‘highly engaged’ with their employers. These need to be identified and their talents carefully managed, to harvest their drive and potential. Engaged workers want their employer to succeed, want to remain with them, and want to go the extra mile. During tough times, engaged employees and a united workforce are a necessity, not a luxury.”