Unrealistic expectations put millennials at risk of burnout
Ambitious graduates are putting themselves under immense pressure to succeed
By Andrew Hill
Published: May 9, 2017
In 2012, Bogdan Costea of Lancaster University Management School and colleagues analysed recruitment advertisements in The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers, an annual guide. Employers urged students to “invest in yourself” (Herbert Smith, the law firm), “See more, be more” (Barclays) or “Be the one who never stands still” (PwC). In a later paper, Prof Costea set Erhardt’s tragedy in the context of this “culture of work focused intensely and unremittingly on the self, a culture which becomes obligatory from the very early stage of careers, so much so that internships themselves become a kind of testing ground for the mettle of individuals”
Pursuing a similar line of inquiry, Kira Schabram of the University of Washington and Sally Maitlis of Oxford university interviewed current and former workers at animal shelters for a new study in the Academy of Management Journal. Burnout and dropout were real threats for those who saw their work as an intense calling. For instance, these employees struggled to cope with being forced to witness and carry out animal euthanasia (“Kittens were being, you know, put down,” recalled one, lamenting “the sheer numbers” of animals involved).
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