When I first saw the results of On The Dot's survey, my heart hurt a little because I truly wish for Millennial women to find joy and a sense of accomplishment in doing something meaningful in their careers. In fact, I believe the future of women and the economy depend on it.
When I read about the specific concerns with a toxic workplace/boss and a stress-filled environment, I thought about how I might offer some advice to not just push through, but to actually learn to thrive and shine in these environments.
First, I will address stress. Unfortunately, there's not a great answer here, because even more so for Millennials and those generations to come, we live in a world where technology has made life easy in so many ways, but equally challenging in other incredibly important ways. The immediate gratification of email, text and social media also means that even when you want to be untethered, that tether stays intact.
This constant “connectedness” has been building for years, but I believe it has really skyrocketed in the last five to ten years—right smack in the middle of the millennial generation coming of age. Boundaries have completely gone out the door. And I don't think it's because your boss is trying make you feel stressed out or create a stressful environment, but because people don’t know how to set boundaries anymore-- nor do we know how to respect even the most basic boundaries. It's just all mixed up right now. I think that creating a realistic sense of your boundaries in both a personal and professional work space is really critical, but even more imperative is that you share those boundaries with your co-workers and your superiors, and discuss how those boundaries affect you and your work in both positive and negative ways.
My advice is to go in with an open mind and a willingness to compromise on some of those boundaries, should it become clear there is an important reason why. All relationships, both personal and professional, are about give and take. If you can have open conversation about these things in all aspects of your life, you will find that people are very open to working with you and are trying to respect those boundaries.
In terms of not being in stressful environments, I think that unfortunately, we might need to give up on that idea, much like my generation had to give up on the idea of balance when we went back into the workforce in droves. If you can start to look at stress as something positive (when endured in the right doses) and understand that this feeling of stress means you’re doing something meaningful and important—something you’re passionate about and willing to go the extra mile for—then I think it can be turned into something that fuels you.
My advice about toxic workplaces or bosses that create such environments is much the same. You might find that through open communication with your boss or coworkers, everyone is feeling the same way and very much wants to create a positive environment. We are all human and often need each other to encourage and push each other to be better. If you open those lines of communication but it backfires, then you really have your answer, and can feel the freedom to move on and find what you're looking for. But if you're doing something that you love and are passionate about, please at least take the step to talk to people and work together to create the environment you want. I think, and very much hope, that you will be pleasantly surprised at the results.
Millennial women are our future— and more than any generation, you have the opportunity to ride this women’s movement to create long-lasting change for all women. We just need your passion, commitment and enthusiasm to get there.