Millennials have been called self-absorbed and lazy, only interested in taking selfies in front of their trophy shelf filled with participation awards from kickball teams and home microbrew competitions.
But the youngest employees in the workforce are actually the hardest working of any demographic, a new survey from Project: Time Off shows. Millennials are less likely to want to take earned vacation time, making them “work martyrs.” A work martyr is someone who doesn’t want to take time off because no one else can do their job in their absence, they feel guilty for taking vacation, and don’t want to be seen as replaceable or lacking dedication by their boss.
Forty-three percent of those surveyed classified as work martyrs were millennials, even though millennials only made up 29 percent of the 5,641 respondents. Thirty-nine percent of generation Xers and 32 percent of baby boomers thought it was a good thing to be seen as a work martyr by their boss.
Millennials, born after 1980, mostly graduated during and in the wake of the great recession. This left them struggling to find jobs that required the expensive degrees they obtained by taking on a staggering amount of debt. The class of 2016 had an average $37,173 in student loan debt.
“Coming of age during an economic downturn has consequences. When millennials landed jobs, they brought with them a strong desire to prove themselves, intensified by the often long and painful search that preceded their first day,” the survey concluded. “All of this occurred amidst changing American work culture and attitudes toward taking time off.”
In 2015, 55 percent of Americans didn’t use any or all of their vacation time, leaving 658 million vacation days on the table.
Forty-three percent of people who are stressed at work think it’s good to be seen as a work martyr, and 48 percent of those unhappy with their processional success also think it’s positive to put work ahead of their personal life. Work martyrs are 52 percent female, and 55 percent of them are married.
So it is worth it to forgo the family reunion in Lake Tahoe to finish up the end of the year fiscal report? The survey says no: Work martyrs were less likely to report receiving a bonus, meaning “work martyrs’ perceived commitment may not be valued—or as valuable—as they think.” They are also more likely to feel stress at home and at work.
“The work martyr mindset is fundamentally flawed and poisonous to company cultures,” the survey concluded. “The negative results of such thinking should be presented to work martyrs so that they may reconsider their approach to time off.”