Millennial women are burning out. They are also leaving their jobs at a faster rate than their male counterparts. This has nothing to do with babies. So what’s happening?
Here are four common reasons and what we can do about it.
THE REASON: SOCIETAL EXPECTATIONS
Even though women are starting companies and bringing home the bacon more than ever, there is still gender bias that exists in both the workplace and at home. In 2013 the US Census released data showing that 40% of household breadwinners were women. Still, the pressure to perform gender roles at home and smash through them at work is exhausting.
WHAT CAN WE DO: BELIEVE IN THE POWER OF THE FUTURE!
This is a tough one because this is something that will (fingers-crossed) work out over time. The rate of men staying home to raise the kids is not congruous to the number of women in the workplace. And women have been starting businesses at a faster rate than men for the last twenty years. Research has shown that women will create over half of the 9.72 million new small business jobs expected to be created by 2018.
So, we keep fighting for parity, in all areas of our lives. And we look to the future generations. Specifically, Gen Z, who, research has shown will be the least judgmental of all generations. They are less likely to ascribe to gender norms or put people in boxes.
Which means expectations will change-- for both genders-- and ideally, the pressure to be all things to all people will subside.
THE REASON: UBER-CONNECTED WORKPLACES
Technology, you Medusa. Your snakes have slithered into every moment of our lives and it’s turning us to stone. Or ash, since we’re talking about #burnout.
Our parents never had to deal with this! They’ll never understand the reality of working round-the-clock and having an employer that can contact us at all hours of the day. I once had a boss who, if he wasn’t in the office, Facetimed me almost every morning to make sure I was staying on track. It became exhausting to see his face. Sometimes I was in the bathroom. Other times, I’d miss the call because I was refilling my coffee. If I missed it, I was reamed. And I burnt out 100% and left that job.
WHAT CAN WE DO: SWITCH OFF, WITHIN REASON
Easier said than done. A black screen is our worst nightmare, but we are creating an abyss more ominous than any black screen: our professional burnout before 30.
You need to set boundaries with your job. There is no reason that you need to be answering emails at midnight or checking your phone FIRST thing upon waking. The healthiest mind is a balanced one. How many times do we have to say it before it sticks?
Start somewhere small-- because small changes create bigger boundaries and better habits. Aside from the obvious dangers of texting while driving, make a pact with yourself to NEVER answer a single work email or text while you are driving because it will help set a boundary. It will not only save your life or others’, but driving is a 100% legitimate reason to not answer a frantic text/email from a boss or colleague. Tell your boss you’ll no longer be answering texts or emails from the car. As long as you make it to work on time, this is healthy place to start.
THE REASON: UNCLEAR CAREER PATHS
We hear about women who are fired and find themselves.
We hear about women who boldly quit and find themselves.
We hear about women who make the transition from “job” to “career.”
Very rarely do we hear about women who stayed the course and found themselves within their current position. Guess what? It happens! This should excite you even though career means something very different than it did 20 years ago. The shifting technological landscape and startup world mean everything is moving at warp speed. It’s hard to know what a tenured career will look like when you can’t see two years from now. It's hard to think about the fact that maybe our generation will never really retire!
WHAT WE CAN DO: BE THE CARTOGRAPHER OF YOUR OWN CAREER
If you feel lost within your current position, write down the goals of where you want to go. You can take the freelance backroad or you can hop on the corporate interstate but goal-mapping is important and journaling is the enemy of confusion.
This is completely on you. It’s not up to your employer or boss to create your path. If you want to move forward within the company, make it known. Talk to you supervisor about what your options are. Don’t quit because you can’t see the forest through the trees. Wipe the sweat from your brow and refocus.
THE REASON: IT’S NOT YOUR PASSION
It doesn’t help that social media features lots of influencers who have “quit” their day jobs and refused to pursue passion in the margins. Some people say that if it’s not your passion, you will burn out. But other millennial women are using this as an excuse to bounce from their obligations.
WHAT CAN WE DO: FIND THE PASSION IN YOUR CURRENT JOB
The pairing of job and/or career and passion is not a perfect one. If you are looking for complete satisfaction out of a career, boy will you will be looking for a long time! Even the people you meet who love their career, still don’t like them sometimes. It’s like marriage-- some days it’s love, some days it’s work.
Everything worth having is hard work-- that includes passion. No relationship and no job will completely satisfy you; it’s the reason why we have more than one friend. Unfortunately it’s much harder to have more than one job. So work to find the passion in the work you are doing and you might end up finding your true calling. Or falling for the job you already have.
And then think back to point #2 and map out your career goals.