Why Are Millennials So Unhappy at Work?

May 20, 2016

9:42 am

Happiness can come in many forms. Whether you derive pleasure from spending time with friends or working on a creative project, the subjectivity of joy is well-documented. But if you hate the place you work, being unhappy will be a staple of your day. After all, how can you expect to be happy if you spend 8 hours a day in hell?

Unfortunately, Millennials are finding significantly less happiness at work than their older counterparts. And while many baby boomers and Gen-Xers may be tempted to blame laziness and entitlement as the root causes, it actually turns out that constant criticism, like that which they receive from baby boomers, Gen-Xers and themselves, is making them unhappy.

A recent report from the Harvard Business Review compiled data from more than 1,000 students in the UK. And while the interviews were open and story-based, the same answers kept coming back to researchers: pressure to be the best was ruining work.

“If we are not doing something exceptional or don’t feel important and fulfilled for what we are doing, we have a hard time,” said Emerson Csorba, director of the consultancy Gen Y and a World Economic Forum Global Shaper.

Again, older critics may insist that this complaint of being unhappy at work is merely a product of coddling in the early stages of Millennial-dom. This is patently untrue. Because Millennials are more connected than any previous generation, they are constantly inundated with success stories: friends getting promotions, cousins getting travel perks, mortal enemies receiving dental benefits. The constant exposure to success makes failure, or even mediocrity, that much more difficult to endure.

Another factor holding Millennials back is the amount of options at their disposal. In the same way Millennial love-lives are suffering due to the vast expansion of online dating, work satisfaction is at an all-time low because of the constant “what if?” What if starting your own business is a better choice than working at a corporation? What if being a freelance painter could pay the bills rather than sitting at a desk all day? While these questions can be beneficial to discovering one’s true passion, they can also prevent satisfaction from settling in when you’ve found your niche.

Is there a way to combat these feelings of unhappiness when it comes to working at the office? Of course! Millennials need to zoom out. Don’t think about the day-to-day of your job. Take in the bigger picture and you’ll be able to see the forest rather than the trees. After all, no twenty-something is expected to have it all figured out by now. And a little perspective can go a long way in making a Millennial happy.

Photo: Flickr / Omar Gurnah

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Conor is a writer, comedian and world-renowned sweetheart. As the Senior Writer at Tech.Co, he’s written about everything from Kickstarter campaigns and budding startups to tech titans and innovative technologies. His background in stand-up comedy made him the perfect person to host Startup Night at SXSW and the Funding Q&A at Innovate! and Celebrate, posing questions to notable tech minds from around the world. In his spare time, he thinks about how to properly pronounce the word “colloquially.”

Conor is the Senior Writer at Tech.Co. You can email him at [email protected].

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