The first generation to be less financially buoyant than their parents, Millennials are dealing with the prospect of the second worldwide economic crash of their lifetime…but they’re more resilient than you think.
They entered the work-force during the worst downturn in 80 years, with little savings, no investments and thousands of pounds of student debt. For many, the impact of the 2008 financial crisis has never ended and YouGov research has found that 42% of Millennials cite debt repayments as one of their most significant outgoings, with one in five 25-to-34-year-olds spending over 60% of their income on the same day it enters their account.
Suddenly presented with another economic disaster caused by an unprecedented pandemic, those born in the 80s and early 90s are about to be confronted with even lower entry-level wages, stalled career prospects paired with an unstable housing market and sky-rocketing rent rates. The LV= money advice service warned that a third (34%) of this age group could only survive for a month or less if they lost their income, rising to 45% for renters – but there’s more to this generation than financial fluidity.
They’ve been described as the “avocado toast and chai lattes” aficionado age group, but a lifetime of lessons and pessimistic headlines has created a determination and resolution by Millenials to thrive. They are the true no-person-left-behind generation, loyal and committed, and strive to be included and involved.
Growing up with technology, the new ‘middle aged’ are prepared for a new normal of social distancing, and are pros at communicating through email, text messaging, and whatever new social media platform (i.e., Twitter, Instagram) is popular at the time. They are well practiced at video calls, multi-channel virtual chat and multi-tasking on a variety of platforms. As companies start to streamline and prioritise work for those able to juggle a work from home lifestyle, they’ll be competing for the skills and talent Millennials bring through their tech savvy.
As graduates they were introduced to an employment market full of zero-hours contracts and wage-free work experience, with 48% of young people having undertaken unpaid internships in the UK back in 2017. In turn, an unstable and somewhat unrewarding work prospects has prompted Millenials to re-prioritise their work-life attitudes. Although older generations may view this attitude as narcissistic or see it as a lack of commitment, discipline, and drive, Millennials have a different idea of workplace expectations and are willing to trade high pay for fewer billable hours, flexible schedules, and a better work/life balance. This outlook will serve them well as we are suddenly required to take a look at our 9-5 lifestyle, and integrate our work and home life to a level many traditional workers have never done before.
They are the gig-economy and freelancer generation, forced to innovate by an economy that failed to support them after they invested more than any other age group in their higher-education. Labelled by many as ‘over-educated and under-experienced’, it’s not uncommon for a millennial to stay with a company for only two or three years before moving on to a position they think is better, and most 22-38 year olds’ CVs will undoubtedly demonstrate this peppered job history. This job-hopping attitude is a reflection of their confident, ambitious, and achievement-oriented characteristics, after a childhood of being nurtured and pampered by parents who didn’t want to make the mistakes of the previous Gen-X generation.
As a result, Millennials now have high expectations and aren’t afraid to seek new challenges. They are the new entrepreneurs, full of ideas and with a variety of experiences compared to their years bring new and exciting insights to any team. For those that are self-employed and run the 5.9 million SMEs in the UK, these are the people who will be attempting to re-start our local independent high-street and have held together the sense of artisan, ‘Best of British’ and ‘support small’ community. They have crowd-funded and battled to stay alive, with many only minimally supported by the government’s financial aid.
In short – this upcoming economic downturn will hit the Millennial population the hardest, there’s no doubt, but with their characteristics there’s no reason why they won’t prove themselves to be one of the most resilient and most valuable to companies and the economy as we need to slowly emerge from lockdown and attempt to recover.
This is a guest article by Dr Laura Cutress. Laura is an experienced digital marketer with extensive evidenced skills in all levels of creative content and business development. Specialising in working with small to medium businesses with a passion to make a difference through creative, intelligent and authentic growth that leaves an impact, she is an ardent advocate for young women in business.