Millennials: Work Martyrs Or The Lazy Generation?

It is one of the oldest stories in the world - the older generation complains about the new generation for being less hard-working than they were, for being more selfish, for not being so successful. This story caught up with the Millennials generation a decade ago, but is it really true? Does the Millennials generation really stand for selfishness, laziness, self-absorption, and unreliability?

According to recent research, the Millennials generation is the complete opposite of all the stereotypes that are usually linked to it. Living in the digital age, with the spotlight fixed on them since they were kids, the Millennials have learned how to deal with rumors, prejudices, and stereotypes. Besides learning how to deal with these issues, the young adults of today have also grown up in an unstable economy, living through multiple economic crises followed by natural disasters, wars, and terrorist attacks. There is no need to mention that most Millennials have to deal with big student loans, which must be paid off in a relatively short period of time while the unemployment rate is not going down as fast as it should. So when we add up all these issues and connect them to young people – the biggest workforce in the world today, what do we get?

A survey done by the American marketing research firm, GfK, shows that 43 percent of Millennials meet the definition of a work martyr. This result needs to be put in a correct perspective to be fully understood – only 29 percent of respondents of all ages meet this definition. The same research also shows that Millennials tend to avoid taking vacations because they fear that leaving the office will mean that their work won’t get done. Project: Time Off, for which this survey was conducted, has shown that workers who fit the criteria of being work martyrs tend to be female (52 percent) and not married. Most Millennials think it is a good thing to be seen as a work martyr by their bosses, and the reason behind this is, according to Lynn Taylor, a workplace expert and author, because the young adults of today have grown up with icons such as Mark Zuckerberg who have led them to believe they could be billionaires if they just worked hard enough.

These results are backed up by other research – for example a 2014 survey conducted by the advertising agency DDB which found that Millennials are apt to portray themselves as workaholics: 44 percent of Millennials state that, while only 35 percent of Baby Boomers and 41 percent of GenXers state the same. Let’s keep on looking at the differences between the generations – the above-mentioned Project: Time Off has also shown that despite the fact that Millennials qualify for less vacation time, due to their junior position in the workplace, 24 percent of them forfeit unused vacation days, in comparison to 19 percent of GenXers and 17 percent of Baby Boomers.

The older generation also points a finger at the Millennials for changing jobs often. The Census data disputes this view, and Ben Casselman from the news site FiveThirtyEight stated last year that job-hopping among 22-29 years old workers has decreased since the 1990s. Joan Snyder Kuhl, author, consultant, and speaker on issues involving millennial workers, has published a new study with Center for Talent Innovation CEO Silvia Ann Hewlett called Misunderstood Millennial Talent: The Other 91 Percent. Their research shows that Millennials are comparatively likely to stay on the job, mostly because they have financial burdens that earlier generations of young adults did not have. This generation is keen on staying and working as hard as it takes, in order to succeed, to triumph, and to meet their life-goals.

Having presented all this research, one has to ask: where is the problem? If the Millennial generation consists at least 50 percent of workaholics, what seems to be the issue, and why is it usually seen otherwise?

The fact of the matter is that HR departments have a tendency to avoid hiring Millennials due to these stereotypes, and the stereotypes are the result of the general behaviour of this generation created by all the issues today’s young people have faced that were described in the first section of the article. The bottom line is that Millennials are keen on working, but on their own terms. Having in mind that this generation is now the largest workforce in the world, HR managers need to have several key factors in mind if they want to create a productive work environment while incorporating the Millennials.

Millennials want work that matters

More than any other generation before, this one is not willing to do work just in order to work. Millennials want to reach goals, to help the team and make their contribution to the overall success of the company. This means that the company has to change its methods of working, and managers need to show their cards and let Millennials help them be successful.

Millennials dislike traditional workplace rules

The workplace standards that earlier generations saw as ideal are just not attractive to this generation. The Millennial generation likes to keep it real, is completely aware that being 10 minutes late is not a good reason to slash a paycheck, because they know that they can do a lot more than the older employees in a smaller amount of time. The dress code is also a matter that disturbs Millennials – the principle of being who you are is not for sale, at least for this generation. Their productivity depends on their state of mind. Give them more freedom, and they will give you results

Millennials want meaningful relationships

While most companies are used to having staff meetings just to have a staff meeting, a company that is planning to have Millennials on the team needs to re-think the idea of team-building. Millennials are individuals who want feedback, instruction, examples, and a leader. Making them attend a non-productive meeting is just a waste of their time, and they see right through it. If the Millennials are willing to give up their vacation time for the sake of your company, you need to take time to talk to them, show your appreciation for their work and dedication, and also give them a chance to work on themselves. This generation is determined to learn constantly, so make sure you provide them that.

Support us!

All your donations will be used to pay the magazine’s journalists and to support the ongoing costs of maintaining the site.


paypal smart payment button for simple membership

Share this post

Interested in co-operating with us?

We are open to co-operation from writers and businesses alike. You can reach us on our email at and we will get back to you as quick as we can.

Where to next?

The Importance of Student Government in Education

Student government refers to a student-led organization within a school or university that is responsible for representing the interests, concerns, and needs of the student body to school administration and…

The Cuban Embargo is SO Last Century

In February 1962, President John F. Kennedy proclaimed an embargo on trade between the United States and Cuba. What is this embargo, and what is the current status of said…