Millennials struggling with personal, professional priorities

Generational discrepancies in the workplace often go undetected. How did our parents deal with having children while working toward promotions or feeling pressure to perform at work?

Every person approaches work challenges differently, as does each generation. We are continually faced with similar issues — managing workloads, meeting deadlines and everyone’s favorite: finding work/life balance. What changes? Apart from the obvious technological advances, it’s pressure — pressure to succeed. It’s also each generation’s definition of success.

When I joined EY in 2005, I was 23 years old. Now, at 32, I’ve become a senior manager in the tax practice — a title of which I am proud. Getting there, however, was a journey.

Career milestones
In the same time it took to become senior manager, I reached a number of personal and professional milestones:

■  Switched practices from Audit to Tax.
■  Became a manager at age 27.
■  Had my first child at age 30.
■  Worked in EY offices outside of Cleveland, including Toledo; Irvine, California; Los Angeles; and Amsterdam.

And now, I am anxiously awaiting the birth of my second child.

Over the last 10 years I set aggressive goals for myself, both personally and professionally.

The substantial, flexible offerings from EY have helped me along the way. I’ve been lucky to receive everything from paid maternity leave to formal workplace flexibility and mobility.
Yet not everyone can say the same. Even with these types of benefits, advancing a career while raising a family with a spouse who also works full time isn’t easy.

Generational challenge
This difficulty is expressed across my generation — millennials. A recent generational survey released by EY surveyed 9,700 employed (full-time) adults ages 18 to 67 from around the world. The results found that millennials are struggling with the shift in personal and professional priorities more than any other generation. Some interesting findings from the survey include:

■  Millennials are working more after having a child — compared to Generation X and baby boomers.
■  The most common time for millennials to have/adopt a child and become a manager is between the ages of 25 and 29.
■  Millennials are more likely than other generations to be part of a couple where both spouses work at least 40 hours per week.
■  Millennials are less likely than other generations to take a career break when having a child.
■  Millennials highly value increased flexibility/working remotely and paid parental leave.
■  Workplace benefits can play a role on retaining and engaging millennials.
■  Millennials are the most willing to make job/career changes and sacrifices to better manage work/life balance, compared to other generations.

Every generation experiences the often overwhelming, work/life juggling act.

Simultaneously reaching personal goals and career objectives can be a substantial undertaking.

For me — and what seems a large part of the millennial generation — working in an environment that promotes employee freedom and flexibility is key. As pressure increases on today’s workforce, it will be interesting to see if businesses can adjust and adapt.

Natalie Gabel is Tax Senior Manager at Ernst & Young LLP.