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If you think millennials are a lazy generation who would rather drink a Starbucks frappe than lift a finger to work, research will prove you wrong.

Forty-three percent of millennials in the workforce are skipping vacations to work more, compared to 29 percent of all workers, according to a survey from Project: Time Off, a U.S. Travel Association initiative that studies the vacation habits of Americans.[1] These “work martyrs” don’t take vacations to prove they are completely dedicated to their jobs.

That’s what they believe, at least. And they have good reasons to be afraid of unemployment.

Student debt in America just hit a record high of $1.5 trillion and is affecting 40 million Americans, most of which are millennials, according to Forbes. [2] The business magazine also reported that millennials’ annual pay is far lower than everyone else’s, and 20 percent lower than baby boomers’ when they were the same age. [3]

So millennials have found other ways to survive: job-hopping, asking for better benefits, freelancing, and working side jobs.

1. Millennials can’t find a decent job

The truth is, millennials want promotions and raises, the same as everyone older than them. Most would stay with their current company if they saw potential for their future.

The vast majority (90 percent) of millennials said they would stay at the company they work for if they were guaranteed to receive an annual raise and upward mobility in their career, says a poll from Qualtrics, a survey software firm. [4] Most (77 percent) would even take a cut in salary if it guaranteed them job security.

Odds are that won’t happen, though, which is why they flock to other places for jobs.

A Gallup poll says 21 percent of millennial workers said they changed jobs within the last year, which is more than three times the amount of older workers. [5] Sixty percent of millennials said they were open to working a different job. And half of those young workers said they planned to be with the same company a year later. That means the other half doesn’t see a reason to stay with the company.

Could it be this generation is just lazy and entitled, or are they just determined to find the right fit? Gallup suggests it may be the businesses they work for.

2. Millennials want better work benefits

Part of a worthwhile job isn’t just the salary — it’s the benefits that come with it.

Three quarters (71 percent) of millennials say they’d like financial planning services as a benefit from work, but only a quarter of employees have been offered some sort of financial education, according to MassMutual Life Insurance. [6]

For example, a whopping 92 percent of millennials are putting money away for retirement, says a study from digital investment service Wealthsimple. [7] But only 35 percent are investing outside of a work-sponsored plan.

One reason millennials aren’t investing outside of work benefits is that they don’t know how. Thirty percent of those not investing beyond a work-sponsored retirement plan says so.

Aside from financial advice, millennials have had their eyes on other workplace benefits. Millennials like flexibility with their work hours, says a previous study from MassMutual. [8] The following are some of the other benefits they have their eyes on…

  • Flexible schedule: 43 percent
  • Vacation days: 48 percent
  • Tuition reimbursement: 30 percent

…Millennials have been pushing for student loan reimbursement for some time now. Debt.com has previously reported that student loans make millennials desperate, and 90 percent of them felt they would benefit from a student loan repayment program through work.

3. Millennials aren’t happy with the traditional work week

Because companies aren’t giving millennials what they want or need, some have decided to be their own bosses.

Forty percent of millennials plan to leave their 9 to 5 jobs to work as freelancers in the next five years, while only 23 percent of Gen Xers and 13 percent of baby boomers plan to do the same, says a study from Thumbtack, an app that connects independent contract workers to jobs. [9]

Part of this is in response to the economy. More and more companies are hiring independent contractors and freelancers instead of full-time employees, hence the term “gig economy,” which is the increase of workers turning to temporary work and freelance jobs, the Washington Post has reported. [10]

The gig economy has increased by 27 percent more than traditional jobs over the past two decades, according to a study from the Brookings Institution. [11]

But millennials also leave their jobs because they want better life quality. Three in five want to start a business to feel more fulfillment, Thumbtack also found.

But why are millennials so eager to leave their jobs to pursue their passions? One reason is that they worry about the future of their positions. One in three millennials fear that automation will take over their jobs at some point in the future, according to a study from Pepperdine Graziadio Business School, and fear of job security is a motivator to chase down something they love. [12]

But there’s financial risk in going out on your own, too.

These workers are their own bosses and are paid for individual tasks. They’re responsible for paying their own taxes, unlike traditional employment. Some praise the flexibility and freedom this type of work provides, but others claim these jobs can lead to financial instability and burden workers to ensure their own pay and benefits.

4. Millennials aren’t making enough money

Even when millennials work full time, it’s still not enough to cover their living expenses. So many turn to side hustles for extra income.

Forty-four million Americans have one. But, younger millennials are more likely to have a side hustle than other generations, says a new study from personal finance website Bankrate. [13] CareerBuilder considers side hustles to include anything from blogging to babysitting. [14]

But define extra: They’re still earning less than everyone else. Only 25 percent of millennials earn more than $500 a month from their side hustle. Meanwhile, baby boomers and Gen Xers earn that much from theirs.

But no matter what kind of money they make or how their jobs are going, millennials are still optimistic.

“The [2008] recession left an indelible impression on young people and will follow them around for the foreseeable future,” says David M. Smith, Ph.D., associate professor of economics at Pepperdine Graziadio Business School. “But in spite of these challenges, millennials still view their career prospects with cheerful optimism.”

Hope Dean contributed to this report.

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About the Author

Joe Pye

Joe Pye

Joe Pye is a certified debt management professional. He served as Editor-in-Chief of Florida Atlantic University’s student-run newspaper, the University Press. He was a finalist for the Mark of Excellence award by the Society of Professional Journalists Region 3 for feature writing and in-depth reporting. He now covers personal finance topics for Debt.com uncovering trends that help readers deal with the financial world. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in multimedia journalism from Florida Atlantic University.

Published by Debt.com, LLC