World Health Organization has dubbed “millennial burnout” as a medical condition, defined as “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” It’s officially a real thing.
Millennials, the 20-and-30-somethings, have been a bit of a punching bag for Gen X and Boomers, who love to throw out terms like “fragile,” “sensitive,” “lazy,” or “entitled” when talking about the cohort. However, the research suggests otherwise.
We’ve seen studies that indicate Millennials are workaholics and some experts even suggest they are poised to exceed the successes of previous generations because of their drive, creativity and ability to innovate.
Perhaps that is what is behind “millennial burnout.” Ninety-six percent of Millennials feel burnout on a daily basis, according to Yellowbrick. The national psychiatric center surveyed 2,000 Millennials to identify which aspects of their lives cause their burnout and found that pressures stemming from their careers is the leading culprit. A full 72% blame work. You can review the full study here, but consider these results:
- 61% feel pressured to work overtime or longer hours
- 1 in 4 admits to working off the clock several times a week
- 62% feel pressured to always be accessible via the phone, email or Slack channel
Furthermore, a fear that they could lose their job at any moment is driving much of the behavior.
Consider that last statement for a moment: The largest generation in the workforce is suffering from widespread burnout because they feel forced to be always-on … so they don’t lose their jobs. That’s crazy.
Maybe you’re a Millennial. Whether you fall in that category or not, you likely manage or work with Millennials. Either way, it’s important to consider that mindset, and have some understanding and empathy. It’s no wonder Millennials are:
- Quick to change jobs. They want to take advantage of any opportunity that comes their way, maybe in part, because they worry their current job won’t be around for long.
- Preparing to quit and find organizations that offer development opportunities. They want to develop skills that make them more marketable to employers and ensure long-term job security.
- Opting to freelance over full-time corporate jobs. They’re craving more reasonable hours, flexibility and the freedom they currently don’t feel in their existing jobs.
So what does it all mean? Do Millennials feel entitled to something without putting in the work? Or are they facing pressures that previous generations didn’t and don’t, like the feeling that they must be available around the clock? It depends on your own circumstances, but I tend to believe it’s the latter.
Bottom line: As a leader, you have significant control over employees’ workloads and the expectations you have for them. No one, from your youngest to oldest employees, should fear that they will be fired if they aren’t on 24/7. It’s not healthy for them, and it’s not good for business when turnover is high and productivity is low. So check your own actions to ensure you aren’t setting unrealistic expectations.
Check out these additional resources:
Don’t Confuse Work Commitment With Work Addiction
This Leadership Mistake Really Hurts Employees … Are You Guilty?
Leading Millennials? Give Them More Purpose In The Workplace
The Most Challenging Issue Companies Are Facing Right Now