Generation Y, comprising those between 20 and 34 years of age, are working as hard, if not harder, than other generations. (FILE PIC)

PARENTS like to compare notes on the best jobs available for their children when the latter are about to leave college.

Typically, mothers would also want to know how other children are faring.

Quite often, we discover that many have changed jobs, while others quit theirs.

The next question that comes to our mind is, why are they giving up? They are impatient, not resilient, scared of challenges or lazy. This sums up our assessment of them.

A recent online search on youth and employment led me to a report by the Manpower Group, a multinational human resource consulting firm based in Wisconsin, the United States.

Contrary to the lazy label we give to our young adults, the report tells a different story. In fact, it said millennials were ready to embrace new challenges and willing to work long hours, given the uncertain economic environment.

According to the report, millennials, or Generation Y, comprising those between 20 and 34 years of age, are working as hard, if not harder, than other generations with 73 per cent reportedly working more than 40 hours a week, and nearly a quarter work over 50 hours.

Indian millennials claim the longest working week (an average of 52 hours) and Australians, the shortest (41 hours). Twenty-six per cent globally are working two or more paid jobs.

The report said that globally, over half expected to work past the age of 65.

Another 27 per cent expected to work over the age of 70, while 12 per cent said they would likely work until the day they died.

In Japan, that figure is more than a third.

When it comes to retiring, 6 per cent of millennials interviewed said they would do so between 55 and 59 years.

Another 23 per cent said they would call it a day when they were between 60 and 64 years. The largest number, at 33 per cent, would do so only when they were between 65 and 69 years.

Millennials, the report added, were honest in saying they may not want to stay on the same job throughout their career.

They would only do so if they found it challenging and meaningful.

It seems that these young adults know they “have a career ultramarathon ahead of them and are willing to work longer and play harder”.

Rather than having one job for life, millennials think about careers in waves with changing paths, pace and regular breaks. An interesting finding.

The report was based on a quantitative research in 25 countries surveying 19,000 millennials, including 8,000 Manpower Group associate employees and more than 1,500 of its hiring managers.

Respondents were asked what they looked for in a job, what development opportunities they sought and what would make them stay with an employer.

Although the report was published last year, it assessed the minds of the younger generation about work until 2020.

Although Malaysia is not included in the study, we can draw some conclusions from cases in Singapore and India, where 14 per cent of working millennials there said they would work until the day they died.

More than one third of millennials interviewed in Japan, or 37 per cent, which is the highest percentage worldwide, think they would work until their last breath, followed by China in a distant second with 15 per cent. In the United Kingdom and the US, it is equal, at 12 per cent.

These are interesting facts that can help employers understand what Generation Y wants.

Parents too should take note that young adults around the world are changing jobs as well.

And more importantly, we need to acknowledge the fact that not all of them are unproductive and lazy.

Similar to what the report revealed, many young adults in Malaysia, too, struggle to make ends meet, including working long hours.

Generally, they spend more than the minimum requirement of 40 hours a week. If we take into account the time they take to get to work, and return home, they would spend about 12 hours outside home each working day.

Like everywhere else, many of our young adults are struggling to establish a balance between work and family life.

Many look forward to flexible working hours, but companies prefer that their staff find ways to cut down commuting time.

Most companies consider commute a choice.

The reality is that cities are becoming very expensive.

For most young working families, living close to a job is no longer an option. These are additional realities that they have to factor in.

And, we must have faith in their ability to face the challenge and strike a balance between work and family.

The writer is a former associate professor at the Language of Academy Studies, Universiti Teknologi Mara, Shah Alam

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