What Ails The Millennials/Gen Zers? A Lost Generation of Workers or A New Paradigm

Is Something Wrong with the Millennials/Gen Zers, Slacking Out of The Workforce

Anybody who is somebody would have heard of The Great Resignation, the trend of American and Canadian Millennials and Gen Zers quitting their jobs en masse for no apparent reason, other than to make a “statement”, driven by tech driven viral events. While The Great Resignation, by itself was enough to worry seasoned business leaders and set off alarm bells in American and Canadian corporates, now we have Quiet Quitting, which basically means that these generations of professionals and workers, are simply doing their jobs as per the basic requirements, with no intention to go beyond the mandate that was given to them.

At first glance, Quiet Quitting seems innocuous, and prompts us to ask, how is this different from earlier, when even the Boomers and Gen Xers, or some of them, just “existed” on the job.

Indeed, for the layperson, Quiet Quitting seems normal, except that today’s tech driven Digital Age needs us to innovate and improvise on the job, as well as to be inventive, which Quiet Quitting negates. So, there you are with the Millennials/Gen Zers effectively “slacking” out of the workforce.

Are The Millennials/Gen Zers Redefining Work and Life, or Simply “Problem” Childs?

Of course, as worrying as these trends, there is an additional source of anxiety for business leaders in the form of Moonlighting, where the Millennial/Gen Zers have been found to work for multiple employers, at once, calling into question the age old and long held tenets of the relationship between employers and employees, where the post Industrial Revolution social contract defined this as a linear and exclusive compact between corporates and their workforce, with each sticking to the other in a monogamous way.

What all these trends have in common is a generation of American and Canadian professionals and workers on the edge of obviating traditional markers of job identity and workplace behavior. While this can alarm purists and others belonging to older age cohorts and prompt them to ask, What Ails the Millennials/Gen Zers, these trends can also mean that these generations are redefining what work, life, and work life balance mean and therefore, instead of berating them, we must embrace and accept these “changes” as The New Normal.

Indeed, the Millennials and the Gen Zers are the Digital Natives, meaning they were born with the proverbial gadget in their hands, and so, might be heralding the emerging Digital Age.

Millennials/Gen Zers

Some Observations on the Post Pandemic American and Canadian Workforces

Having said that, it is also important to note that the post pandemic workforce in the United States and Canada is anything but normal, which is again a cause for worry among the business elite.

The pandemic, with its forced isolation and compulsory WFH or Work From Home, along with doing away with face to face onboarding and mentoring, seems to have taken its toll on the younger generations, with the Gen Zers (below 25 years of age) being hit the hardest.

While older Boomers and Gen Xers more or less coped with the pandemic restrictions, the emerging age cohorts reported elevate stress levels and high burnout rates, making many of them to simply “drop off” the workforce. This was what drove The Great Resignation and this is what is driving Quiet Quitting, as the “disengaged” and “disenchanted” Millennial/Gen Z generations do not feel up to it as far as work is concerned.

As can be seen from the high levels of mental health issues being reported from these age cohorts, it is for sure that something ails them and it is up to the societal and business stakeholders to start addressing this problem, lest we risk a Lost Generation.

Actionable Steps for Business Leaders/Governments to Address Mental Health Issues

So, what exactly can the aforementioned stakeholders do? First, we need to remove the “stigma” surrounding mental health from the workplace and instead, acknowledge and reckon with it as being normal like any other workplace hazard.

Indeed, the Industrial Era had a whole set of workplace hazards that were duly attended to and workers compensated in monetary and nonmonetary aspects and so, the Digital Age needs business leaders to come up with an appropriate set of hazards at the workplace and address them. Already the EU (European Union) and the United Kingdom mandate counselors and psychologists to be available on call and have passed laws that specify leave of absence for those seeking to take time off due to stress and burnout.

Similarly, there is a growing acceptance of mental health problems being common and “normal” and something that does not make the victims ineligible for employment. This is a good starting point and business leaders ought to build on this and establish a more broader framework and model for addressing the problems being faced by the Millennials and Gen Zers. Of course, we also risk “lapsing” back into the morass due to the recessionary winds blowing across the West.

Importance of Helping Millennials/Gen Zers to Cope with Workplace Pressure

Last, these are deeply unsettling times for everybody and it is incumbent upon older and more experienced and mature professionals to lend a helping hand to the younger generations. This is where the concepts of buddy hood and mentoring are very important to take the “pressure” off the Millennials and Gen Zers. Otherwise, the American and Canadian workforces risk losing a wide swath of workers and professionals, that can be as detrimental to their economies as a depression or a deep recession.

To conclude, we must stop asking what’s wrong with the Millennials/Gen Zers and instead, help them to cope.

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Authorship/Referencing - About the Author(s)

The article is Written By “Prachi Juneja” and Reviewed By Management Study Guide Content Team. MSG Content Team comprises experienced Faculty Member, Professionals and Subject Matter Experts. We are a ISO 2001:2015 Certified Education Provider. To Know more, click on About Us. The use of this material is free for learning and education purpose. Please reference authorship of content used, including link(s) to ManagementStudyGuide.com and the content page url.

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