Maltese millennials have grown disillusioned with career prospects, choosing instead high-paying jobs as they struggle to keep up with increasing costs of living and hefty loans, a study has found.

The same study debunks the belief that millennials in the labour market are the only ones seeking flexible work arrangements in a post-pandemic Malta.

The study by Eugenia Sammut for a University of Malta Master of Arts in Management by Research was based on an online questionnaire in January 2022 and subsequent focus groups between July and August.

Sammut, who was supervised by Vincent Cassar, received 566 replies to her questionnaire. Over half of them were millennials, born between 1981 and 1996.

On average, millennials scored lower than the rest on job satisfaction, employee engagement and employee well-being, and higher scores on intention to leave.

Participants felt millennials had it more difficult than the rest as they are faced with an increased cost of living that is not reflected in their salaries, finding themselves “stuck” with a loan and, therefore, not free to move around in the labour market, Sammut told Times of Malta.

In order to keep up with high cost of living, millennials have shifted their focus from what they enjoy doing (such as teaching), to jobs that pay them well.

Flexibility in time and place allows more time for non-work commitments

The older generations are, meanwhile, “comfortable” without huge loans to pay off, while the pandemic has brought about the realisation among Gen Z (born between 1997 and 2012) that they need to prioritise their own well-being. 

“Additionally, compared to the older generations, millennials have also always had access to mass media and the internet, where they are exposed to the adverse effects of things such as climate change, making them even more disillusioned with their future prospects,” Sammut added.

Sammut’s focus groups were held soon after Malta adopted the EU work-life balance directive, among others allowing men 10 days of paternity leave and giving parents of children under eight the right to request flexible work arrangements. 

However, her participants noted that time was a limited resource across all ages and not just those with parental duties – or millennials, as most believe. 

“Flexibility in time and place allows more time for non-work commitments. Employers should not make assumptions on what employees require to reach a work-life balance, so measures of flexibility at work need to be implemented according to individual needs, and not be a one-size-fits-all sort of situation,” Sammut noted.

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