Young People Are More Miserable Than Ever At Work, But Why?

Study shows that young people are unhappier than ever at work, even though the economy is booming
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Young people these days are always getting a bad rap. From having the perception from older generations for being lazy, lacking focus, showing the inability to save money, having FOMO, and not being able to say “no”, well, you get the idea; being a so-called “millennial” isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be, even though it should be the best generation to be living in.

While it’s typically the older crowd who shits all over young people, here’s the cold hard truth — millennials sure do know how to complain. In fact, part of the inspiration behind Shut Up & Hustle was to whip these types of people into place, reminding them that life’s not perfect, so stop comparing yourselves to others, worrying about what you don’t have and just get back to shutting up and hustling to work for what you want. Yep, it’s pretty unapologetic.

That said, it’s definitely easier said than done. Not everyone has the ability to just block out distractions and focus on the task at hand. Case in point? The amount of young people who are unhappy with their jobs — which is an alarming concern given the economy and new tech are booming. So why is this happening? According to a piece published in Barron’s, there’s a major reason why so many millennials aren’t satisfied at work: mental health problems.

What The Numbers Say About Young People And Mental Health Problems

According to a 2018 piece published on ThriveGlobal, young Millennials and Gen Z students are reporting higher rates of anxiety and depression than ever before. Naturally, that’s a major concern, especially given the fact that about 20 percent of the workforce will be made up of Gen Z by 2020.

Additionally, data gathered by self-improvement app Happify, cited in the Barron’s article, shows sharp decreases in the mental health of millennial and Gen Z employees, with depression and anxiety 25 percent higher in people aged 18 to 25. These two generations are tasked with reshaping the workplace, and the overall mental well-being will be a huge factor when it comes to success in their careers.

Why Are These Young People So Unhappy?

While everyone’s different, there are some contributing factors as to why so many young people are unhappy at work.

The first one would be unending comparisons, where so many people in the millennial generation believe that, what they see from others’ online, is truth. That’s not the case, yet, many of these people still use things like social media as a way of evaluating their own lives and where they should be.

Per Thrive Global:

Another reason online sociality is ravaging the well-being of students is that it creates an unhealthy and unrealistic culture of comparison.


“When you see people online, you’re only seeing their best,” says Zoe Howland, a 21-year-old senior at Ithaca College in Ithaca NY, who is double majoring in sociology and culture and communication. “If you see [people’s curated feeds] as reality, it makes it seem like everyone else is happier and doing better than you.”


Ben Locke, Ph.D., the senior director of Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) at Penn State, and executive director of the Center for Collegiate Mental Health, adds that students often measure “all their internal doubt and worst fears” against Instagram accounts that never line up with anyone’s “true, authentic internal experiences.”

Yeah, that seems like it’s a major problem. We all compare ourselves to others’, we’re human beings, but because it’s so easy to do so these days thanks to social media, it has led to lots of anxiety and depression, which has caused more misery when it comes to work.

That’s not the only factor, though. Another major problem is this idea of workism, which is causing young people to literally burn themselves out before they even reach their mid-30s. Don’t believe that? Take a look at what The Atlantic had to write about the idea that young people feel like they need to be working all day everyday.

There is nothing wrong with work, when work must be done. And there is no question that an elite obsession with meaningful work will produce a handful of winners who hit the workist lottery: busy, rich, and deeply fulfilled. But a culture that funnels its dreams of self-actualization into salaried jobs is setting itself up for collective anxiety, mass disappointment, and inevitable burnout.

This means that many young workers aren’t spending time to themselves and unplugging, leading to more anxiety and mental health problems because of how much they’re either working or thinking about work. It’s a dilemma that needs to try and be resolved, but how?

What Can Young People Do To Help Overcome Their Unhappiness?

When it specifically comes to unhappiness in work, there are a few things that young people should be focused on the most in order to become more satisfied. Here are a few tips worth noting.

  • Find hobbies that fulfill other interests
  • Limit social media use
  • Make a plan to end work each day and stick with it
  • Keep like-minded people nearby to help each other stay on course
  • Remember that everyone has problems, so don’t think you’re too good to talk to a psychologist
  • Don’t be afraid to say “no” every once in a while, and spend time to decompress by yourself

When we’re doing the things we want to do and not what we have to do, we’re generally happier. It’s why work can be a major drag and one of the reasons why, given all the other factors, why so many young people are miserable with their jobs. It’s why it’s important to carve out time with those you care about most in order to get away from the work grind.

Per The Atlantic:

The vast majority of workers are happier when they spend more hours with family, friends, and partners, according to research conducted by Ashley Whillans, an assistant professor at Harvard Business School. In one study, she concluded that the happiest young workers were those who said around the time of their college graduation that they preferred careers that gave them time away from the office to focus on their relationships and their hobbies.

Young workers have lots of distractions that may feel overwhelming. They struggle with comparisons and the allure of social media. But, in order for these young people to start improving their lives in and out of work, it’s time to focus on passions and the good people around them, which, in essence, could lead to a more fulfilling life overall.

(H/T Barron’s)

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