Among the many stereotypes of avocado-loving, coffee-drinking millennials is that they are lazier and less productive in the workplace than previous generations.
It’s an assumption made by baby boomers based on the fact that younger people are eschewing traditional working patterns and demanding employers allow them to work flexibly; from home once a week, for example, or with less structured hours.
But does this mean that the millennial productivity output is lower than that of previous generations?
Largely defined as those born between the early 80s and late 90s, millennial 20- and 30-somethings make up a substantial proportion of the current workforce.
Over the past couple of decades they have redefined the traditional workplace, rejecting the culture of presenteeism and instead making companies focus on employee wellbeing and staff engagement.
To remain competitive, businesses have introduced perks and schemes that promote health and happiness for staff, such as on-site gyms, massages, free beer, unlimited holiday allowances, , flexible hours and remote working.
Pioneering these initiatives in the Noughties were tech giants such as Google, Facebook and Netflix, whose focus on making their workplaces “fun” helped them to attract top tech professionals to Silicon Valley.
Other companies soon cottoned on and, according to a 2017 Deloitte survey of 8000 millennials from 30 countries, 84 per cent said their employer offered some degree of flexible working.
Some studies suggest that millennials are lazier because they work fewer hours in the day than their predecessors: one survey claimed baby boomers waste just 41 minutes of time at work per day, compared to two hours wasted by millennials.
In fact, Britons work an average of 37.3 hours a week, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), only one hour less than the 38.4 hours worked on average 20 years ago.
And these figures don’t include unpaid overtime which, thanks to technological advancements enabling staff to check emails remotely, is estimated to be an extra 7.4 hours on average per person every week, according to the TUC, which has 48 member unions.
Even if you disregard unpaid overtime, ONS data shows that although the average number of hours worked has fallen, the average output per hour worked across Britain has doubled over the past 40 years, meaning employees today are more productive than they were decades ago.
Over the past few years we’ve also witnessed the growth of the job on the side, or the “side hustle”, as millennials take on additional work outside the 9-5 in order to earn more money.
A landmark review of employment patterns conducted last year by Matthew Taylor, found that, in the aftermath of the financial crisis, a growing number of people were receiving income from a variety of sources – in fact, well over a million people are now thought to earn extra cash in the rapidly growing “gig” economy.
Common side hustles include selling arts and crafts online, through eBay, Etsy and Amazon, for example, renting rooms on Airbnb, commercially blogging for brands, driving for Uber or delivering for Deliveroo.
Millennials have a reputation for being work-shy, but many are set to work well into their 60s as the retirement age edges further away so it’s easy to see why they place a higher emphasis on work-life balance.