Over the last twenty years, healthy eating has become mainstream. Eating a salad is no longer just the purview of wacky health-nuts and fruit smoothies are now considered a viable alternative to many sugar-filled coffees drinks. Other things like the multi-trillion dollar “wellness” industry—comprised of things like yoga, boutique fitness, and meditation—are driven in large part by Millennials in particular.
While these trends are positive, it does not mean young people are without problems. For example, young Americans today are struggling with record-high rates of issues like depression, anxiety and loneliness. These conditions have many causes, but research has found that they are likely driven in part by stressors including a divisive political and social climate, financial concerns and social media. Many millennials also do not see primary care doctors and struggle to pay for health care. Part of the recorded rise in depression among millennials may also be because they are more likely than older generations to talk about and address mental health issues through therapy, research shows, which could result in an increase in identifying and diagnosing mental health issues.
This last point is an important one for, in the past, it was anathema for people to openly discuss mental health issues and, if you did, you were usually just told to tough it out or to stop being weak. While there is still room, and necessity, in our society for tough love (because sometimes that is what people need) but today we have a far better understanding of the underlying causes of serious depression and listlessness. Just the fact that we have the vocabulary today to talk about mental health issues that we did not have in the past is an immense step forward. No one, therefore, should be discouraged by the findings that more Millennials are suffering from mental health issues than in the past. However, now that we know what we are dealing with and we have a baseline, we must commit to reducing mental illness including depression and anxiety in future generations.
Millennial Career Wellbeing
Most of today’s leaders inherited 20th century institutions, which are known for lack of agility and punching a time clock. Institutions where seniority and top-down management rules. Institutions that value profits over people.
Millennials often are criticized for their lack of loyalty or “job hopping,” but it is critical to note they leave their jobs for one key reason — they do not share these industrial-age values. They value education, higher purpose and collaboration across organizational ranks, and they want to be recognized and rewarded for their ideas and creative thinking.
Along with their prioritization of health and wellness, it isn’t a surprise that millennials expect work-life balance. They are more likely than other generations to view work-life balance—41 percent—and not enough free time—36 percent—as major career concerns. Only 29 percent of Gen Xers and 20 percent of baby boomers feel the same.
This focus on well-being in the workplace is another very positive sign. It’s one thing to go jogging and do yoga on the weekends, but the weekends do not compose the majority of your waking life, your work does. To think of life as beginning when you get off work on Friday evening and ending when you walk into the office on Monday morning is a big mistake, we must all strive to integrate our work into the enjoyment of our overall lives.