Below we share two complements to our Contracting series:
New York Times article: Feeling ‘Pressure All the Time’ on Europe’s Treadmill of Temporary Work
The article explains: “More than 40 percent of Europe’s young people are now stuck in a revolving door of low-paid, temporary work”, and refers to this “employment netherworld [where] life is a cycle of constant job searches”. Calling them “permatemps”, it describes how “job-hopping is the new norm for a growing pool of young workers”.
It covers a number of personal stories of people in their twenties to mid-thirties, including professionals with degrees in accounting and finance, a masters in social analysis, a masters in human resources and economics and business degrees, and a doctor specialised in oncology who felt she was experiencing “no professional growth”.
The emotional impact of the “treadmill of [ongoing] temporary [contracts]” comes through strongly, including anxiety, feeling stuck or in limbo, stress, self-doubt, and feeling disposable, potentially compounded by working in another country, away from your family support structures. Practical implications like struggles with getting a mortgage, credit card or mobile contract given the uncertainty of income, and couples delaying getting married or starting families are also mentioned.
Allianz survey into millennial attitudes to work, life and satisfaction
Contracting and gigging, where people work on short-term contracts or freelance, are often portrayed as the preferred work environment for millennials. Temporary workers and consultants, even in highly skilled white-collar professions like law, accounting and IT, are said to be attracted by flexible hours, the opportunity to gain wide experience and learn new skills, and the freedom of choosing when and where to work. However, in this survey, 70%-80% of employed millennials showed a longing for more traditional career paths, indicating that they value security and stability over change and flexibility.
Allianz surveyed more than 5000 working people aged 18-35 in five countries: Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States, as well as from predominantly major cities in China and India.
The survey identified a significant group of “traditionalists” who have worked for the same employer since the start of their career or for at least the past five years. “Free spirits” at the other extreme have worked for multiple firms and value the flexibility and freedom this provides.
Traditionalists tend to be older than their peers (and in the US and Germany, higher earners). Also, in the US, traditionalists are far more likely to report being extremely satisfied with their job than free spirits report.
The responses also indicated that millennials believe that fixed jobs will continue to decrease, which compounds their concerns that their economic prospects are narrowing. Also, millennials believe that continuous education will be crucial in determining their career paths and life prospects.
The survey concludes that millennials across countries have similar career and life aspirations to the generations that preceded them. It argues that “if their behaviour contradicts this, it is because of circumstances and not preferences… the majority are responding to the changing reality of work where a person can no longer rely on an employer for a career.” It adds: “Careers are becoming increasingly fragmented and discontinuous… [as] careers are becoming less predictable [and secure], then the individual needs to take charge of their own career.”
It highlights that millennials are similar to previous generations in their reasons for changing jobs too: “When millennials move on, it is for more money, a more secure work environment and greater opportunities”.