Woman sitting at computer

How Do We Deal with the Challenge of Burn Out Among Millennials?

Avocado toast, chain restaurants, diamonds, even homeownership.

From the workforce, to the consumer world and even at home, millennials have made a name for themselves as murderers of all the things. There’s even a tweet that’s gone viral listing 14 different headlines of the things millennials are killing.

But this isn’t just another blog about how Millennials are ruining everything.

Instead, this blog is exploring the impact of both Millennials and Generation Z (Gen-Z) in the workplace, and why both generations are experiencing a high rate of burnout both at work and home. A recent article on Buzzfeed exposed how burnout at work can translate to burnout at home, thanks to a combination of gig culture and high debt.

By next year (2020), it’s expected that millennials will make up 50 percent of the workforce, while Gen Z is projected to reach a staggering 35 percent. With this transition and the shifting of mindsets at work, the effects have been felt not just in the office, but in the consumer world as well.

Both Millennials and Gen-Z employees have shown the value of transparency in business practices and the importance of work-life balance. They’re continuing to make strides with diversity and inclusion in the work-force. Thanks to the evolution of technology and a workforce that’s dedicated now more than ever to going green, they’ve helped companies adopt technologies that made work procedure faster and more efficient. They’ve even shown the importance of having a job that can be done remotely—making it easier to work no matter where you are.

With all of these positive changes, why are both generations experiencing such high stress levels leading to frequent burnout with work and even with life?

The explanation is simple.

All of these innovations have also contributed to burnout among younger employees: being constantly connected to work, always finding ways to improve processes and make them simpler, and wanting to do the best job possible aren’t new to the workforce, but technology has certainly amplified these pre-existing issues.

We’ve all heard of Newton’s Third Law: “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Now, before you start questioning my method of bringing physics into this, first ask yourself this: How has the world changed, and what has occurred as these two generations have transitioned to adulthood that they are reacting to?

When you take a step back and look at the big picture, you realize everything has changed.

But what does that have to do with burnout in the work-place and with life as a whole?

Millennials are the most educated generation in American History. But what has that education actually taught us? How to be successful in the workforce.

Our parents and grandparents have grown up being taught the value of a dollar and their hard work. Millennials and Gen Z? We’re expected to intern at companies for free for “experience” in our desired field, while also carrying the highest debt from education.

While we’re busy getting that education, we’ve had to work (sometimes multiple jobs) for minimum wage to pay bills and apply for scholarships just to get by.

What happens if, in the middle of majoring in the thing we thought we wanted to do, we discover we actually hate it? How are we supposed to justify incurring more debt to major in something else?

When it (finally) comes time to graduate, it’s almost expected that after graduation, we’ll get an awesome job in our field that pays well, right? Think again. For Millennials who graduated between 2010 and 2012, they still experienced the effects of the recession of 2008 and 2009, meaning that finding jobs was relatively impossible. Many toiled in jobs that had nothing to do with their degree or experience level, often service-based while taking on gigs in their desired field. The digital marketing employees who got their start taking on freelance work while working two service industry jobs at once is now a 30-to 32-year-old navigating the workforce, in a better position, but still reeling from those high-stress years.

Employees also feel the need to be connected constantly. So one employee is working at 9pm on a Saturday and sends a Slack message, with notification, to another employee, who then starts working because, why not? It becomes a cycle that feeds into itself: working in the evenings, in the early mornings, on weekends, on vacations, during holidays. The Internet is always available, so why not work?

The list goes on.

It’s no wonder that Millennials and Gen Zers are stressed. As you might imagine, not only does the above leave much to be desired, but it also begs many questions:

We’re successful at work, but how can we be successful in life?

What about student loans? How are we supposed to pay those back when our wages have not caught up with the amount we owe and programs that help use wittle down our payment amounts or interest rates are being actively destroyed?

How are we supposed to have money for medical issues? Or retirement for that fact? If I get hit by a high medical bill and my student loan payment at the same time, I won’t have enough money for rent or food.

So what can employers do to help this chronic stress felt by employees? A lot of our suggestions might not seem fun for businesses, but it’s easier than you might think. Here are a few ways you bosses can provide support:

Both Millennials and Gen Z appreciate positive recognition in the workplace. If they only feedback they receive on work (when they receive it) is things they need to change, it will make them perceive all of their work as subpar. As we wrote in our blog post about Imposter Syndrome, alongside burnout, this is another common issue.

  • Providing mindfulness tools and training can also help the team to understand how to control perspectives and thoughts during stressful times.

  • Providing learning opportunities with new skills to help your employees grow and improve their skills, gaining experience that can help them continue to get raises and find new opportunities.

  • We expect young employees to change the world or be able to seamlessly step into older employee's shoes, with their exact same way of doing things. Suppressing that enthusiasm and idea creation can lead to frustration. Look for ways to help build their passions—providing mentorship and areas where they can lead can help.

  • Offer fair wages to your employees. It is easy to undervalue younger employees, but providing a livable wage is one of the easiest ways to help your employees avoid unnecessary stress. Many businesses focus on the wrong things—providing lunches or fun workplaces with lots of activities—while not really paying their employees fairly or providing benefits such as health insurance and a good PTO or vacation plan.
Are You Ready to Start Your Project?