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Younger generations always get a lot of flack for not being as hard working as their elders. We all know the stereotype of the lazy, entitled avocado-toast-eating millennial. But there does seem to be evidence that kids these days really are taking a different approach to their work.
A Marketplace-Edison Research poll found workers age 18 to 34 were more likely to rank flexible schedule and remote work opportunities as important in a job than workers 35 and older.
Dan Schawbel, an expert on millennials in the workplace and a partner with the HR firm Future Workplace, points to a survey the firm did with staffing company Randstad showing young workers prize flexibility above other employer benefits, including health care.
“If a company wants you to work longer hours for no additional pay, there has to be a give,” said Schawbel. “There’s no 9-to-5 anymore. It’s a free-for-all. Your work and life is integrated.”
As digital natives, young people have grown up in an always-on work culture fueled by mobile devices and instant communication. Thus if young people are going to be expected to bring their work home with them, Schawbel said, they also want to bring their home life to work.
That’s the case for Jenna Vassallo, a 33-year-old Boston marketing manager who has a one-year-old at home. She works remotely two days a week and keeps flexible hours the other days.
“It’s very important to me. I do plan to stay where I am for quite a while because of that,” said Vassallo. It’s a big shift from her parents, who she said were constantly at work while she was growing up.
Young workers are also pushing to take care of their well-being on the job, said 34-year-old Sean Callahan-Dinish. The college recruiter for a Fortune 500 company in Tampa, Florida, said recruits have a higher expectation of wellness benefits like on-site fitness and meditation classes.
“There’s a lot more awareness growing up with the internet and then social media. I think that’s allowed younger generations to be more in tune with health,” he said.
Younger generations have also been influenced by economic conditions. The high cost of living in many areas combined with burgeoning student debt has left young people with less buying power than previous generations, leading many to value experiences over things.
For 35-year-old Jason Connelly, of Columbus, Ohio, that means prioritizing his family, pet and favorite sport: curling. He’s chosen to pursue a career as a designer at a public university, where hours and time-off are more flexible than in the private sector.
“I feel like I’ve sacrificed perhaps more salary, perhaps driving a better car, living in a better house. However I feel more whole as a person,” he said. “We only get one life right? Let’s enjoy it.”
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