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Millennial Anxiety in the Workplace

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Tue Jul 31 2012

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(From Forbes) -- In the era of the smartphone, almost everyone can access their email anytime and anywhere. This can be incredibly convenient and even fun, at least when it comes to personal emails. Most people, however, feel the need (if it’s not actually required) to check their work email as often as possible. That means that when you leave the office building, you’re still at work, in a sense. Hence, the ongoing debate about work/life balance: whether such a balance is even possible, and what this means for our society.

One would think that younger people would be less bothered by this technology than their older colleagues, considering that they have entered the workforce during the digital age, actively using Twitter and Facebook for their social life. This is why, when I was looking back at the data for a recent study on this subject of work/life balance (The @Work State of Mind Project by Forbes Insights and gyro), I was surprised to see that the opposite seemed to be true. According to our data, which I knew was accurate, Millennials were more irritated, tired and anxious about work intrusions into their personal lives.

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To the question, “How do you feel about work time blending with personal time?”, 38% of Millennials said they were anxious, versus 8% of Baby Boomers and 13% of Generation X.  Fifty-seven percent of Millennials said they were irritated, versus 16% of Baby Boomers and 26% of Generation X. For this question, Millennials were on the whole more negative than positive. On the other hand, Millennials didn’t seem surprised by this work/personal time. They were the least likely to say that they felt resigned. The most common feeling among Baby Boomers (40%) was “productive.” The most common feeling for Generation X was “resigned” (34%) and for the Millennials it was “irritated” (57%).

When I started looking at these questions, my mind immediately jumped to what people would say in reaction to this finding. As a 25-year-old myself, I admit to getting defensive when I hear baby boomers criticize “kids these days.” I think that most people have nostalgia for the “good old days,” and tend to consider youth lazy and overprivileged. To those who think that we Millennials are lazy or whiny, consider this:

We may not be irritable, but rather, anxious about our job security.

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