The Generational Response to COVID-19: Gen Y

Throughout the Pandemic there have been two constant emotions that Gen Y have faced: fear and frustration. Fear not for themselves but rather for parents, in-laws, grandparents, older friends and relatives who were more at risk of contracting the virus and reacting badly to it. Then frustration, particularly at these same older generations who did not seem to be taking the risk of the virus as seriously as we would like. I took every precaution I could and followed the Government’s advice to ‘stay at home and save lives’ unless for essential items such as food shopping and medication, which were only undertaken whilst wearing a mask. This seems to be fairly common for my generation as we have been labelled the ‘worriers’ of the Pandemic; at least it makes a change from selfish whining Millennials. We are worrying not only about the risk to older generations, but also that lockdown restrictions are being reduced too quickly, causing Gen Y to stay within the safety of our homes longer than any other generation. 

Gen Y grew up with technology in schools and with some devices at home. We were able to learn quickly as new technology was being developed, something that has helped us to continue with our day to day lives during lockdown. I am lucky enough to be able to work remotely and was not furloughed, as some of my friends were. Although I have missed the interaction with my coworkers, Skype calls and video meetings have allowed us to communicate regularly with each other. As a company we have been busy, creating new software features to enable our clients to get people back into the office with social distancing and other key measures. We have had an ‘all hands-on deck’ approach, doing our part to work closely together whilst being miles apart. I am grateful that I have been able to keep a fairly normal structure to my week by working full time. Many people have not been able to work and are now struggling with the mind-numbing boredom of having too much free time with nothing to do, nowhere to go and no one to see. 

Being one of the least at risk, in terms of age and underlying health concerns, Gen Y has been relied on to remain in work were necessary and keep the country moving. Some were pulled onto the front lines to fight the disease as trained nurses and doctors. Teachers were requested to remain in schools when they were initially closed, to educate the key workers children. Now that the return to work on a wider scale is imminent, many Millennials are being called in as the first returners. Some of my friends have, like me, been able to work from home whilst others have been furloughed, taking a reduced wage. Many of those working from home have also found that they now have the added burden of being a teacher to their young children with no additional help. 

Whilst we are the least at risk in terms of health, Gen Y are being affected by the pandemic in terms of personal circumstance. With major milestones predominantly taking place between the ages of 25-40, such as first-time property purchase, getting married and having children, Gen Y are now experiencing these life events like no generation before them. Personal finance has also been affected with adjusted wages, and loss of deposits. 

I will admit my experience of the Pandemic has been relatively easy compared to others in my generation. I have continued to work; I haven’t had a loss of income; and I do not have to juggle the pressures of childcare and teaching with my normal work. As the lockdown restrictions ease, I look forward to embracing the changes in the workplace that the pandemic has created, even if I have to do it whilst wearing a mask.