The Great Resignation has Millennials working harder

Jennifer E. Engen

This was amplified even further when COVID-19 changed the world and the workplace, causing workers to reflect on their work, their employers, and what matters most in their lives. With the ensuing Great Resignation, Millennials are being met with another hardship that continues to take an emotional and economic toll.

In 2022, most Millennials are in the peak of their careers, having amassed decision-making power in management and senior leadership roles. But as a result, when resources at work are strained, Millennials are shouldering much of the responsibility to ensure the organization meets its business objectives. In fact, since the start of the Great Resignation, 83% of Millennials globally have had to take on up to six new tasks outside of their job descriptions due to their coworkers resigning.

The Great Resignation is causing mass burnout amongst employees who are sticking it out, and until organizations find the right balance, exhaustion and exits will persist. The way we work no longer works, and must be fixed.

Combatting burnout at the source

A study by Indeed found that nearly 60% of Millennials feel workplace burnout has increased since the Great Resignation. Further, the Great Resignation has caused women to feel even more negative impacts at work, which is particularly troublesome as women continue to make gains in leadership roles. For an organization to create a healthy and productive work environment, they must combat burnout at the source, which means understanding why employees feel burned out and what steps they can take to mitigate it. 

The bottom line is if employees are expected to take on more responsibility, employers must be willing to provide benefits that compensate them for it. Many companies have begun trialing four-day work weeks, allowing employees to work from home permanently, or changing policies about employees completing work outside of traditional windows. Employers must go further, however, and expand benefits that improve their employees’ wellbeing. A recent LinkedIn study also found that Millennial and Gen Z employees are some of the strongest advocates for free mental health services, which can help employees navigate changing times, deal with added stress, and stay motivated. 

Organizations also need to debunk the theory that working from home should equate to more working hours. The same Indeed survey found that over half of employees work more hours remotely than they did in the office and that rising workloads and mounting pressures have made it more difficult to fully “unplug.” This outdated mentality ultimately causes a lack of productivity and efficiency, and increases tension for employees who may feel their time is not valued. 

In a positive trend, many employers are investing in management training focused on empathy and inclusion with a goal of helping workers feel supported no matter their role or their location. Employers should also regularly “pulse check” teams with brief surveys to understand how workers feel about their experience, their responsibilities, and their managers. This is an effective way to introduce transparency and can be the difference between retaining talent or losing talent. 

Redefining work 

The Great Resignation is more constructively viewed as The Great Migration—people are seeking new opportunities for meaningful work. People do not derive joy or a sense of value from performing the same tasks, over and over again, that take up the majority of their time each week and stymie their creativity.

Just as personal computers, mobile, and cloud have provided workers more freedom and efficiency, automation technologies are relieving workers of the mundane, repetitive tasks that burden their workday and cause burnout. In fact, 73% of Millennials feel that the majority of their day is eaten up by doing monotonous tasks that could be automated. In environments in which software robots can do the mundane, employees gain more time back for the strategic and creative work that fuels their passion and drives the business forward. Further, automation tools help businesses become more people-centric and engaging for employees and customers.  

Adapting to manage through the Great Resignation is essential for businesses, and it’s possible through prioritizing the health and wellness of the employees that make businesses successful. With nearly half of Millennials craving opportunities to learn new skills on-the-job, organizations should take the time to understand their employees’ needs, build muscle in training and upskilling options for career growth, and implement technologies that sustain long-term work/life balance.

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