Millennials are continuing to rise in the ranks, and they are taking the work world by storm. While there are plenty of jokes and preconceived notions about the work ethics of our generation, new studies are showing that this group works much harder than we think.
However, while hard work is good, it is possible to work too hard. Millennials who see themselves turning into workaholics need to realize that going too far can cause more harm than good. Let’s look at the numbers and how we can avoid unnecessary stress by achieving a better work-life balance.
You’ve Got It Wrong
It can be common among older generations to assume that millennials are always on their phones and see work as only a casual activity when absolutely necessary. However, a new survey, which sought to ask workers about their opinions on taking time off, shows this is not exactly the case. According to the 5,600 people surveyed, 43% of them were millennials who considered themselves to be “work martyrs” who routinely turn down the chance to take their vacation time.
The term “work martyr” may seem a bit overblown, but that’s because it is. Of those surveyed, half of the respondents said that they liked being seen by management as the hardest-working member of the staff and some of them even said that they guilt-trip those who do take vacations. However, not all millennials are workaholics for this reason alone. Many others said they couldn’t or wouldn’t take time off for other various reasons, such as that they were the only person at their company that could do their job and that they don’t want their company to think they are replaceable.
Then, of course, there is the fact that many millennials need to work to pay the bills, especially the student loan bills. Currently, 45% of millennials have student loan debt, along with a typical net worth of only $8,000. With their loans on their minds, many young people are turning into workaholics to make ends meet. Those who are overworking due to debt should instead turn to consolidation options or rehabilitation programs to lessen the burden.
While many millennials may feel it’s cool to be a workaholic, those who truly prioritize work above all else are typically only hurting themselves. Putting everything you have into a big project here and there is great, but those who work around the clock or create unrealistic expectations are destined for a plethora of health conditions, including headaches, elevated blood pressure, and a lack of sleep, which could wear down the body and lead to other ailments. Not only that, but when you work longer and harder without rest, your productivity actually decreases, and at that point, your efforts are not benefiting anyone.
Just like many other addictions, many workaholics turn to their jobs to escape other pressures in their lives. Those who are unhappy in their personal lives with their relationships, financial problems, divorce, or general feelings of depression should not stick their head in the ground and try to cover their feelings with work but should instead face their issues with a trained professional.
Those stuck in the endless struggle of work addiction should see a therapist who can help them not only manage their work but also get to the root of what else in their life may be triggering these feelings. If you feel like management is forcing long hours, then you need to sit down with them and express your feelings and find a more suitable work schedule. If your employer is not understanding or willing to work with you, then it may be time to part ways.
Achieve a Work-Life Balance
Besides talking to your employer, there are also other strategies that you can take to achieve that essential work-life balance and make more time for yourself. You need to understand that work is not everything and eliminate the idea that if you leave for the day that the company will fail. Instead, realize that the work will still be there for you tomorrow, and you can better tackle your inbox after a good night of restful sleep.
Most importantly, you should take at least some of the vacation time offered by your company. This time is necessary to unwind, take a mental break, and then come back to the job refreshed and ready to go. When you are on your paid time off or otherwise off the clock, make sure to disconnect completely. Turn off the business cell phone and activate your “out of office” message, so you are not tempted to jump back in on your off time.
Corporations can also do their part to encourage work-life balance. Instead of letting employees believe that they have to work around the clock to get ahead, be transparent about learning and development programs and show employees a roadmap to promotions and continued growth that they can refer to and know that they are on the right track. The company also needs to understand the importance of the work-life balance by creating a strategy when the workload escalates, which might include hiring more people instead of making the existing employees handle a burden that may be too much to take.
Any doubters can rest assured that millennials are doing their part to keep our companies running and our economy strong. However, instead of putting it on any one person or group’s shoulders, we need to strive for the work-life balance that will make us more well-rounded individuals.