Title: Millennials, COVID-19 and the new job market
On the occasion of its 29th anniversary, CSI Professionals Inc. wants to focus its attention on a series of very relevant topics that characterize today’s job environment: 1. Millennials and mental health; and 2. Adjusting to the American workforce. These topics are so important to us that they have become an integral part of both our weekly seminars and of the upcoming event in Manila.
The reason why CSI Professionals is dedicating these topics so much attention is that we’re extremely aware, attentive, and sensitive to the new challenges, trends, and needs of job seekers and the job market. This way we can make sure we provide the best service possible to all those people who are currently looking for jobs.
This first article will focus on the relationship between Millennials, mental health, and the changes in the contemporary job-seeking environment, work ethics, perceptions of workplaces, etc.
Who are Millennials?
According to the Pew Research Center, Millennials are those people who were born between 1981 and 1996.
“Most Millennials were between the ages of 5 and 20 when the 9/11 terrorist attacks shook the nation, and many were old enough to comprehend the historical significance of that moment (…). Millennials also grew up in the shadow of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which sharpened broader views of the parties and contributed to the intense political polarization that shapes the current political environment. And most Millennials were between 12 and 27 during the 2008 election when the force of the youth vote became part of the political conversation and helped elect the first black president. Added to that is the fact that Millennials are the most racially and ethnically diverse adult generation in the nation’s history” (Dimock, 2019).
In other words, Millennials entered the workforce at the height of the 2008 economic recession and this means that many of their life choices, future earnings, possibilities, and expectations have been shaped by this recession, in a way that wasn’t experienced by previous generations. This is why experts tend to talk about a “slow start” for Millennials: as they entered the workforce, they were already carrying the burden of an economic recession. All these factors increased dramatically with the outbreak of COVID-19.
As of 2022, 35% of the U.S. workforce is made of Millennials. This means that over 1/3 of all U.S. workers are part of this cohort. There are now 71 million Millennials in the US alone, and 56 million of them are part of the workforce. About 39% of Millennials aged 25-37 hold, at least, a Bachelor’s degree.
Estimates tell us that, by 2025, Millennials will represent 75% of the global workforce.
These numbers are incredible and extremely useful and relevant for understanding how the job market is changing, and how we can adapt and thrive in these everchanging – and challenging – conditions.
Millennials, Mental Health, and COVID-19
Research highlights that Millennials have always experienced higher levels of loneliness, depression, anxiety, and isolation compared to the previous generations. This is due to many factors, such as the loss or lack of employment, the loss of a stable income, housing instability, etc.
To better understand these trends, let’s take a look at the pre-existing challenges that shaped Millennial’s approach to the job market:
- As previously mentioned, Millennials entered the workforce at the height of the 2008 Great Recession and, some of them, at the height of COVID-19. This means that they were probably the last ones to be hired and consequently, the first ones to be fired in times of hardship.
- A high school education alone is not enough anymore, as experienced by previous generations. Even for entry-level positions, applicants are required to have at least a Bachelor’s degree and some previous work experience. Understandably, even the level of competition among applicants – and employers’ expectations – increased significantly.
- Companies are now investing less in training new resources, and applicants are somehow expected to know the job already.
And just to give you an idea about the additional impact of COVID-19, recent estimates tell us that about 10% of the people interviewed lost their jobs due to the pandemic; 25% of them have seen a reduction in their work hours, and about 23% had to resort to using their savings to pay for their daily, basic needs.
Understanding these trends also allows us to understand the emphasis that Millennials place on the topic of mental health, and the focus on its protection. An important aspect that is worth highlighting is the tight relationship between mental and physical health.
What makes a good workplace?
All these factors shape Millennials’ expectations when it comes to defining what a good workplace is. The list of characteristics that Millennials value and appreciate in a good workplace is numerous, but let’s focus on the following ones:
- In a good company, mental health is not stigmatized, but it’s normalized and prioritized.
- A good company is a place where programs are designed and offered to promote employees’ mental health, through the use of resources to help people cope with stress and anxiety, and to help them return to work sooner – or stay at work.
- A good company is a place where more flexibility for a healthier work-life balance is taken into consideration.
Goals to reach on the way to 30th anniversary:
- Support Millennials and the rest to find suitable work environment
- Advance diversity in workplace
- Global outreach à provide US employment opportunities to global candidates