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Most millennials ‘struggle to make friends at work’

The Independent logo The Independent 20/5/2019 Olivia Petter
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The majority of millennial workers find it difficult to form friendships in the workplace, new research suggests.

According to a survey of 2,016 people carried out by graduate jobs board Milkround.com, more than half (65 per cent) of those aged 25 to 34 struggle to make friends at work compared to less than a quarter (23 per cent) of their baby boomer colleagues.

The survey found that the problem might be even worse for those under 25, with 24 per cent of them saying they would feel anxious about meeting a new colleague compared to just eight per cent of over-55s.

Nearly half (48 per cent) of this group also admitted to having called in sick at least once to avoid the social scene at work, while 38 per cent of millennials said the same.

As for reasons why so many young people are struggling socially at work, the prevailing factor as identified in the survey was stress, with 30 per cent citing this as the cause.

It also seems that few young workers are seeking support from their employers, with just six per cent of survey participants having spoken to either their manager or a human resources representative about their social anxieties.

Georgina Brazier, graduate jobs expert at Milkround said that in light of the findings, employers should take measures to help their younger employees develop social confidence where possible.

“By providing staff, particularly graduates, with a working environment that encourages social interaction across all levels, employers can help enable employees in honing their interpersonal skills, establishing professional networks and laying the groundwork for the kinds of skills they to excel in throughout their careers,” she said.’

But relationships psychologist Emma Kenny explained that there’s only so much employers can do and that the younger generation “must also take positive steps to safeguard their own needs”.

“We will spend around a quarter of our adult lives at work, and so knowing that we are surrounded by people who we can trust and whose company we enjoy can only have a positive impact on our wellbeing,” she added, “which is why it makes sense to work hard at workplace friendships.’”

The survey comes after previous research found that millennials feel more stressed at work than their older colleagues, with 28 per cent of those aged 18 and 38 stating that working through stress was expected in their jobs. This was compared to just 12 per cent of those aged between 53 and 71.

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