Study: Millennials Obsess About Work More Than Older Generations

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Millennials are often described in one of two ways: as ambitious, burnt-out workaholics or self-entitled narcissists who are too lazy to get a job. According to new research from the Harvard Business Review, the former may be closer to the truth. Their report shows that 25 to 34-year-olds think about and value work more than older generations.

For the study, researchers looked at data from over 250,000 users of Happify, an app designed to train your brain into thinking positive thoughts. They looked at the participants’ responses to three prompts, the first being: “Jot down three things that happened today or yesterday that made you feel grateful.”

The top answers across all age groups were related to "spending quality time with family and friends.” After that, Millennials noted topics relating to work—“positive interactions with colleagues,” “having a low-stress commute,” “getting a new job,” “being satisfied with an existing job”—more often than other generations. Millennials were also less likely to note topics pertaining to religion or religious events (singing in the choir, bible study, etc.).

Happify's second writing activity asked users to set long-term goals for themselves. Common Millennial aspirations like “new job,” “better pay,” “better benefits,” and “better work-life balance” once again reinforced the generation's career-focused state of mind. For this question, religious goals with keywords like “god,” “pray,” “spiritual,” or “bible,” were also more typical among older users.

The final prompt looked at short-term goals—specifically things respondents wanted to achieve by the end of the week. Millennials were most likely to answer with the topics “do things from my to-do list,” “apply for a job,” “get out of my comfort zone,” and “stop worrying.”

The study seems to show two trends among Millennials: thinking about work and feeling stressed about it. This fits in with previous research that suggests Millennials are the most stressed-out generation alive today. Whether you were born before or after 1982, taking the time to de-stress each day is something we could all benefit from.

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