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Exclusive: Millennials are unhappier than ever before – but why?

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Kayleigh Dray
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New research has revealed the truth about millennials in the workplace, and it makes for eye-opening reading…

Ah, millennials. Born between the eighties and nineties, there’s no denying that we mythical creatures are the world’s most maligned generation. Everyone is always poking fun at us over selfies, dating apps, social media presence, flat whites, hot yoga classes, and avocado toast addiction. The world is obsessed with our woeful wages, inability to get on the property ladder, and allegedly lacklustre sex lives. And don’t even get us started on all of those mean-spirited comments about anxiety, gender fluidity, and the like.

But you know what? All of this millennial-bashing is… well, it’s just so basic. Especially when you consider that new research has proven that millennials are working harder than ever, despite feeling unhappier in their jobs 

To date, over 10,000 people globally have taken the free Workplace Happiness Survey by Engaging Works which aims to provide practical and personalised advice to help improve wellbeing at work and to increase productivity and overall happiness within the workplace. The Workplace Happiness Survey asks 26 questions and then delivers a score out of 1,000.

Now, Engaging Works has shared this data exclusively with Stylist, and it certainly makes for an eye-opening read. Not only has the average workplace happiness score for the UK tumbled by four points since February to 651 (two points under the average global workplace happiness score of 653), but the UK now ranks 10th globally when it comes to happiness in the workplace. (Austria (690), Spain (682), United States (719), France (672) and Germany (675) are all above the UK in rating workplace happiness.)

Commenting on the results, Lord Mark Price – who launched the company to drive happiness in the workplace – tells Stylist: “It’s no surprise that the UK workplace happiness score has fallen, given the uncertainty that businesses and individuals are feeling around Brexit.”

However, he went on to inform us that “specifically it’s millennials who are feeling the unhappiest at work”, with 70% who are in employment “determined to quit their current job and look for pastures new this year”.

Woman looking sad by a sunny gate

Lord Price explains that the reason for this millennial slump isn’t due to low wages or the impending doom of Brexit: rather, it’s all down to the fact that they are seeking greater meaning in their careers.

“They are more likely to feel that they are not doing something worthwhile at work,” he says, “and this drop should act as a reminder to businesses to measure, track and improve the engagement and happiness of their employees, which will ultimately improve productivity and overall success of the business.”

This might go some way towards explaining why one in four millennials are most likely to have a second job (or ’side hustle’) that they work either in the evenings or at the weekend as they look to either top up their earnings or work on their own projects.

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Quiz: what’s your work-life balance type?

So how can millennials seek to improve their happiness in the workplace? Lord Price suggests the following…

  • Reward and recognition: To ensure that you are being paid fairly for the job you’re doing, rank it against the market average. Pay is important in any job but don’t forget that being recognised for doing a good job will also increase your happiness at work. If you are not being recognised for succeeding, address this with your line manager to highlight how important recognition is to you.
  • Information sharing: Not sharing information makes employees feel like they are not an important part of the business. Ask for information about your organisation or project so that you can understand your objectives clearly.
  • Empowerment: Ask to be involved in important decisions so that your ideas are listened to and so that you feel part of your organisation. This will ensure that you’re committed and happy.
  • Well-being: Speak to your line manager to discuss any concerns or anxieties you might have to help improve your work environment. You should feel relaxed, healthy and comfortable at work.
  • Instilling pride: To be happy at work means feeling pride in what you do. If you don’t enjoy telling people what you do for work, it is time to ask yourself what would make you feel proud.
  • Job satisfaction: Speak to your line manager to see how your role can be developed, as this will make you feel valued at work. If you don’t have a good relationship with your line manager, address the reasons why by speaking to them to understand how this can be changed. Having a poor relationship with your line manager is often the number one reason for leaving an organisation.

Feeling unhappy at work? We hear you. Be sure to read up on the new work rules that are proven to create a happier and more harmonious office, and check out our tips and tricks on making your side hustle work for you, too. Above all else, remember that without you, there is no balance between your side hustle, your life and your full-time job. You are the crux of all of this and, therefore, you are your biggest priority.

Take our work-life balance quiz now.

Images: Andrew Le/Hector Gomez/Getty

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of Stylist.co.uk, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

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