Nearly 85% of Millennials have experienced burnout due to overwork. Since the 40 hour work week was established that 40 hours a week has crept up to an average of 47 hours a week. In the postwar era that 40 hours a week was worked by one member of a family who was traditionally supported at home by a spouse who did all the housework, cooking, finances, and more. These days, more than 60% of families have two working parents, which means less time to get things like housework and cooking and even hobbies and going out with friends. There are endless think pieces about how Millennials have become shut-ins, eschewing a night out with friends to stay home, order takeout, and binge-watch Netflix. But as wages stagnate and the cost of living soars, many Millennials are just experiencing burnout from a work system that hasn’t adapted to fit the times.
Half of Millennials and 44% of GenZers say that flexibility in the workplace is crucial, and not because they don’t want to go to work. Instead, the younger generations see continuing encroachment on their time outside of work and recognize that if they don’t make a stand it will continue into future generations, as well.
The gig economy has given these overworked Millennials and GenZers an option to set their own schedules and work lifestyles so that they aren’t chained to a desk for longer and longer hours with less and less to show for it.
There’s just one problem – benefits like health insurance, unarguably a necessity in today’s world, are still tied to that 47 hour a week job. This started in the 1940s when employers began to offer health insurance as a perk to remain competitive in an increasingly strong wartime economy. As people got used to having access to healthcare this job perk became part of the benefits packages at most companies, and today employers with more than 50 employees are required to offer health insurance to their full-time employees.
Today more than a third of American workers have engaged in some form of gig work, and by 2027 it’s expected that 60% of the workforce will be gig workers and freelancers. Unfortunately, a significant portion of those currently working in the gig economy are doing so because it’s their last option. While the gig economy is a great way for some to find freedom and flexibility, for others it’s an imperfect solution to their employment conundrum.
Perhaps the biggest pitfall of turning to the gig economy for relief from overwork is that it removes the possibility of employer-provided health insurance in most circumstances. It can make many workers feel they are in a trap of overwork just to cover the necessities of living while the lifestyle they want is just out of their reach.
As gig work and freelance work increase, health insurance will need to keep up with the times. Learn more about Millennial and GenZ expectations about healthcare and health insurance from the infographic below.