Why Are Millennials All So Unhappy At Work?

Last updated by Katie M.

The big 3 – 0 milestone birthday is fast approaching for me, which has prompted me to confess that as a millennial, I’m completely unhappy at work. Ever since graduating from college, I’ve worked a conventional office job, but it just doesn’t give me the thrill I’m looking for and my friends of the same age all said the same things. So, I decided to look into it further and find out why my generation is so unfulfilled in jobs. Now, we often get a bad rap, but are we entirely to blame for this state of depression? Young people frequently take the blame, but the world is changing, and our generation doesn’t exactly benefit from the same economic boom as our parents, plus our goals are very different.

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Are millennials simply destined to be unhappy?

Happiness seems to leave our souls when we’re behind a desk

A survey conducted in 2012 on young adults by the research firm Harris Interactive found that young people had a high anxiety score. In fact, 76% of the 2000 respondents explained that this anxiety was caused by a lack of well-being at work. Generation Y, otherwise known as the millennials, struggle to find their place at work and are more often victims of burn-out than anyone else.

We are more prone to depression than previous generations, and our smartphones aren’t to blame! Receiving interaction and attention sends us dopamine, and this hormone is a highly addictive brain secretion related to joy, plus it’s found in all addictions. The use of social networks makes us more prone to depression because of the lack of dopamine. But, is this really the only reason for our anxiety at work?

Stereotypes related to millennials are hard to break

A 2013 Huffington Post article titled "Why Generation Y Yuppies Are Unhappy" painted a sad picture of my peers. Here, Tim Urban, explains that young people have been overly preserved by their parents and as a result, it’s tough for them to face the reality of work. But that's not the only cliché related to us! We are also seen as rebels who can't stand authority and managerial pressure.

🧑💼 These stereotypes are not the main reasons for unhappiness at work. This is rooted in a reality where uberization and globalization are deeply changing our relationship with work.

The 21st century presents a different way of working

Profound changes in the world of work

The world of work has been turned upside down, and it is the millennials that are left to face the consequences. Technological advances are profoundly changing the way we work. A survey conducted by researchers at Oxford University announces the disappearance of 47% of existing jobs! These changes and instability contribute to the fact that this generation feels anxious about these bleak prospects.

➡ Uberization and globalization add to this panic too. This constant evolution weakens the world of work. Jobs are becoming more precarious and the level of responsibility is weakening. These changes are perceived as a danger, which means working serenely can be challenging.

>>> Discover the 8 reasons why millennials all feel lost

Revisiting management techniques in the face of change

Management is a concept that originated with the industrial revolution in the 19th century. Initially, it focused on productivity and rational methods, symbolized by Taylorism. Fortunately, management has evolved over the last century, giving rise to 4 types of management: directive, persuasive, consultative and participative.

In view of the evolution of the world of work and new technologies, management must still evolve by stopping the conflict between the different generations. Questioning our reliability doesn’t encourage us to invest ourselves further. Indeed, accusing millennials of idleness is a way to hide management's inability to cope with change, whether it's because of the economic context or in the conception of work. It is important to create a new work culture and to review management according to the changes and desires of the new generation.

How about a new conception of work?

Work is no longer at the center of our lives

Millennials are definitely also unhappy because we don’t feel the same attachment to our jobs as previous generations, and this could suggest that we lack ambition. Philosopher Dominique Méda explains that “a polycentric conception of existence” is emerging and that’s to say that young people don’t want their job to be their main motivator, hence the depressive symptoms. The philosopher conducted a survey with Patricia Vendramin and title it; “Do the generations have a different relationship with work?”. He concluded that now, social relationships, love and leisure are higher on our list of priorities than working.

🧠 We are constantly looking for coherence between the different aspects of our lives. This can be explained by different factors such as a higher level of education or disillusionment related to the phenomena of declassification. The starter pack “job, marriage, house, kids, and a dog” is no longer our generation’s dream.

The economy is not exactly a factor of encouragement

The arrival of the Covid-19 is the proof that the world is undergoing changes that will impact later generations. The pandemic has shown how fragile the current system is! The arrival of the coronavirus has had negative consequences on mental health. However, there is still a positive point to be drawn from this virus, which has turned everything upside down. The pandemic has shown toxic managers that employees can work from home without having their productivity negatively impacted. Virtual working has been made compulsory to protect us, and even the most reluctant companies have had no choice but to implement it. Work has adapted to this huge upheaval, and this proves that the conception of work can change. That’s right, by integrating it more with our personal lives and the rhythm of our generation, we will certainly be happy in our jobs.

>>> Find out why working from home is more tiring than in an office

The editor's opinion: What if it was simply a matter of personality and not a generational issue?

Isn't it reductive to classify people by generation? X, Y, Z? What if it was more a question of personality, of know-how, rather than age? Each generation has had its crises and has been blamed for problems. Certainly, millennials have been the subject of a lot of criticism, but that doesn’t mean they are lazy when it comes to their professional lives. I think it simply means that their perception of priorities is different from in the past, and this isn’t something we need to be ashamed of.

🤗 Understand yourself, accept yourself, be happy... Let’s do it here and now!

#BornToBeMe

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