Building Resilience is Not the Answer to the Millennial Burnout  

A significant number of the reasons that contribute to this burnout are deeply embedded in the difficult job market and economic circumstances that millennials face. “Intensive parenting” is a significant contributor, noting that millennials have been educated and equipped for the workforce by their parents in an unrelenting manner. They have ingrained in their minds the notion that they should either be working constantly or otherwise be engaged in the never-ending quest for improved versions of themselves. 

Comparable to Reaching “Work Burnout”

Burnout in general, or what is more commonly referred to as burnout in the workplace, is very related to millennial burnout. A state of mental exhaustion, pessimism or disconnection, and a sense of being unable to make a difference are common symptoms of burnout, which is a reaction to chronic stress. An enormous workload, restricted control, unsatisfying work, unjustified work, work that contradicts values, and an absence of community in the workforce are the six primary risk factors for experiencing burnout as a result of one’s employment. 

Individuals who are forced to operate in environments that are difficult, conflicting, and at times harsh are more likely to experience burnout. Millennials may be subjected to more challenging environments if it is discovered that they suffer from higher levels of exhaustion than previous generations. There is a good chance that the same things cause stress for everyone, but the millennial generation is facing these challenges in novel, unanticipated, or more significant ways, and we’ve not been paying attention. 

For instance, we are aware that traditional forms of social comparison play a part in feelings of exhaustion in the workplace. For millennials, social contest and comparison are continually reinforced online, and it has already been shown that engaging in this behavior is linked to depressive symptoms in young people.  Millennials are more likely to commit suicidal thoughts and behaviors. 

Even if you stay away from social media platforms, using technology and being online can still be draining on both your body and your emotions. An unhealthy relationship between excessive time spent online and academic exhaustion has been established. Millennials have been constantly exposed to the identical stressors that we recognize can adversely affect individuals at work. The examples given above are only a few of how this has occurred. 

There is a significant gap in our knowledge regarding how millennials encounter burnout. Initial studies suggest that there are differences between the generations. To be more specific, millennials and baby boomers react to emotional exhaustion, which is frequently the first phase of burnout, in very different ways (individuals born between 1946 and 1964). When millennials feel overwhelmed with emotion, they are more probable than baby boomers to feel unhappy with their jobs and want to quit than when the same feeling occurs for baby boomers. 

According to the findings of studies on burnout, the circumstances for traditional workplace burnout are created when high expectations are combined with extreme environments and stressors. The same is true for millennial burnout, which is rooted in ideas of perfection that are analogous to those discussed above.

Burnout is more likely to occur in perfectionists, particularly those who are also highly self-critical. Innately, the self-critical form of perfectionists puts in a lot of effort to make sure they don’t mess up, but this puts them at a high risk of exhaustion. 

Strength in Adversity as Insurance

Training employees to become more resilient is a relatively new strategy for addressing the problem of burnout in the workplace. This is based on the presumption that highly competent individuals are capable of enhancing their working practices to protect themselves from burnout.

One of the initial studies on workforce burnout discovered that employees who were satisfied, less stressed, and more able to alleviate stress were more likely to experience burnout compared to those in a comparative group who did not have these traits. This finding seems counterproductive. 

In the 1970s, researchers in the United States followed more than 400 air traffic control agents for a total of three years as part of an investigation that has largely been forgotten. Because the majority of the cohort had served in the United States Armed Forces (99 percent), we can assume that they had been exposed to high levels of anxiety and had probably created the ability to bounce back from it. 

This study reveals some of the factors that can lead to burnout in a group that initially appears to have a high level of functioning and resilience. The complexity of their work was steadily increasing as new technologies were implemented, but they were not provided with the appropriate training to make use of these new tools.

They were subjected to long shifts with no breaks, and the conditions in which they worked were deplorable. The hours they worked and their schedules were difficult and often changed without warning. Millennials and anyone else who works in the gig economy will probably recognize these characteristics right away. 

The Reverse Reaction

Likely, the recent emphasis placed on coaching employees to prevent burnout by empowering them to increase their resilience will become another source of stress, pressure, or an idea that is too high. This may contribute to an increased risk of burnout, particularly for those forms of perfectionists who are also highly self-critical. 

The significance of our ideals, as well as our perspective of who and what we ought to be, demonstrates to us why it is probably not beneficial to refer to millennials as “snowflakes.” In a similar vein, any type of intensive parenting that is done in the hopes of producing resilient children may be counterproductive. This is because the fundamental signals of strenuous parenting are currently about controlling the masses and compliance, and these messages likely contribute to children’s internal and exterior ideologies for the future.

What we can deduce from the trends in employee burnout is that the work environment is becoming significantly, predominately, and rapidly more complicated and intricate. This is leading to higher rates of burnout in a variety of professions as well as in informal sector workers, such as caretakers, and possibly also in millennials. The remedy is to simplify surroundings that are complicated, conflicting, and hostile at work and in our private life. Instead of offering us all another job of teaching ourselves to become more adaptable to these surroundings, the answer is to simplify these environments.

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