Belonging is “simply a part of a collective we. It’s a two-way street: It’s about communities sending signals of acceptance and inclusion, and about individuals cultivating their own connections to community. A sense of belonging is important to build safe, vibrant communities, and it brings purpose to our lives….
“What do money and work have to do with belonging? It turns out, a lot. For many people, workplaces are important places of belonging. On the other hand, precarious employment and poverty create barriers for people to be involved in their communities and can magnify a sense of being on the outside of our prosperous society.”
Belonging: exploring connection to community
Community Foundations of Canada 2017
Table of contents
Volunteering involves applying your expertise, ideas, energy and labour to support an organization without being paid. In the last 12 months, how many hours per month did you volunteer on average?
Number of hours volunteered in past 12 months
Hamilton millennials vs. general Hamilton population
Hamilton millennials by employment precarity (%)
Millennials and the general Hamilton population do a similar amount of volunteering. Just over one-third of both groups have not volunteered at all in the last 12 months. As shown in Figure 4, the level of precarity does not seem to have an impact on the number of hours volunteered; however, precariously employed millennials volunteer more hours at the high end. Overall, volunteering is hard to interpret as some people may work precariously so they can volunteer more. Others may volunteer less as they may be spending their time looking for work.
Thinking about the reasons why you volunteer, which of the following were important to you? Select as many as appropriate.
- To network with or meet people
- To improve your job/client opportunities
- To make a contribution to the community
- Doing work that benefits your children, family or yourself
- To contribute to my profession *
*this question was not asked in the PEPSO studies
Reasons for volunteering
Figure 5: Hamilton millennials vs. general Hamilton population
Figure 6: Hamilton millennials by employment precarity (%)
Millennials are more likely to volunteer for job opportunities and networking, whereas the general population is more likely to volunteer for family benefit and to contribute to their community. Among the general Hamilton population who volunteer, 89% do so to contribute to the community compared with just over half of millennials. Further the Hamilton general population volunteers more to benefit family (52%) compared to millennials (18%) who are less likely to have established a family.
Figure 6 breaks this down further showing that Hamilton millennials in precarious work volunteer at almost twice the rate of those in secure employment, regardless of the reason for volunteering. Just over four in 10 precariously employed millennials volunteer to network, more than twice as many millennials as in secure or stable employment. Not surprisingly, the proportion of millennials who volunteer to improve job opportunities almost doubles from 19.5% for those in secure employment to 36% for those in precarious employment.
COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES AND WORK UNCERTAINTY
In the last 12 months, did you do any of the following? Multiple responses were allowed.
- Attend a political meeting or protest event
- Attend an event sponsored by a professional organization
- Attend an event organized by an ethnic or cultural organization
- Belong to an arts or culture group (e.g., theatre group, book club, game club, etc.)
- Enroll your children in recreation, sports or music clubs/organizations
- Belong to an adult recreation or sports club/group (e.g., hockey league, golf club, exercise club)
- Attend religious or faith services
- Belong to a support or self-help group/club (e.g., AA, cancer or diabetes group, mental health support, etc.)
- Attend a school meeting/event
- Attend a neighbourhood, civic or community association meeting/event
- Attend a local music event or festival
In the last 12 months, did you attend or do any of the following?
Figure 7: Hamilton millennials (%)
Millennials participate in or attend a variety of activities in the greater Hamilton community. The top five activities include attending a music event/festivals (68.5%), an event sponsored by a professional organization (59.2%), and adult recreation or sports club/group (38%), attending a religious or faith services (32%), and attending a school meeting/event (30%).
How often does uncertainty about your work schedule prevent or limit you from doing any of the above community activities?
How often work schedule limits community activity
Figure 8: Hamilton millennials (%)
Approximately one in four millennials reported often/always, and almost one in three sometimes that uncertainty about their work schedule prevents or limits them from doing any of the identified community activities. However, when viewed through the employment precarity index, the results reinforce the negative impact that work schedule uncertainty has on vulnerable and precarious workers. Three-quarters of Hamilton millennials in secure employment reported never/rarely did schedule uncertainty limit their community activity, compared with 22% of precarious workers. Only 8% of millennials in secure employment reported that schedule uncertainty limits their community activity often/always, compared to 47% of those in precarious employment. Precarious workers are more than eight times more likely to always have their community activities limited by their work schedule uncertainty.
HOW DOES HAMILTON-BURLINGTON MEASURE UP FOR MILLENNIALS?
- The Greater Hamilton-Burlington area provides good work opportunities for my generation.
- The Greater Hamilton-Burlington area provides good networking opportunities for career development.
Figure 9: Good work opportunities
Figure 10: Good networking opportunities
Millennials are split on whether Hamilton provides good work opportunities. Overall, 42% strongly agreed/agreed while 46% disagreed/strongly disagreed and 12% are unsure. Just over half of millennials in secure employment strongly agreed/agreed compared to one in three of those in precarious work. Conversely, where one-third of millennials in secure employment disagreed/strongly disagreed that Hamilton provides good work opportunities, more than half (56%) of those in precarious work strongly disagreed/disagreed. Almost six in 10 survey respondents strongly disagreed/disagreed or were unsure of whether Hamilton provides good work opportunities. This may suggest that while millennials are committed to Hamilton and feel they belong, without better, more longer-term employment opportunities, they may be forced to move.
As Figure 9 illustrates, just over half of the millennials (51%) strongly agreed/agreed that Hamilton provides good networking opportunities. Millennials in precarious work were more likely to strongly disagree/disagree that Hamilton provides good opportunities (56%) compared to those in secure employment (34%). The fact that half of survey respondents could not agree that Hamilton provides good career opportunities may reflect their inability yet to connect to a career and stable employment.
QUALITY OF LIFE
Quality of life — I expect to have a quality of life the same or greater than my parents’ generation.
Expect the same of better quality of life as/than parents
Figure 11: Hamilton millennials overall
Figure 12: Hamilton millennials by employment precarity (%)
As Figure 11 shows, millennials were almost split on their expected quality of life. While 54% of millennials said they expected a better or same quality of life as their parents, 39% did not, and just under one in 10 were unsure. Among millennials in secure employment, 71% strongly agreed/agreed compared to 41% of those in precarious employment, a meaningful finding. Agreement steadily declined as participants moved from secure work to precarious work. The survey results reflect similar findings in U.S. studies of millennials. The 2016 Pew Research-EIG study reported that 38% of American millennials believe their standard of living will better than their parents, 21% worse and 33% the same.
Life is like a game of “snakes and ladders.” Opportunities come along that move you ahead in the game, but then you can face barriers that cause you to fall back. Do you think “THE GAME” is getting easier or harder for your generation of workers?
Is the game getting easier or harder for your generation?
Figure 13: Hamilton millennials overall
Figure 14: Hamilton millennials by employment precarity (%)
Almost nine in 10 millennials (85%) said “the game” was getting much/somewhat harder, compared to 4% who said it was somewhat easier, just under 9% who said about the same, and 3% who were unsure. An overwhelming majority of millennials in every employment-type category – secure, stable, vulnerable and precarious – agreed that the game is getting harder. Eighty-nine percent of those in precarious employment agreed the game is getting harder compared to 88% in vulnerable employment, 80% in stable employment and 79% of those in secure employment. And despite a somewhat optimistic outlook on their expected quality of life, millennials also believe they have far more challenges and hardship in getting there than previous generations.
Community of Foundations of Canada has stated, “Belonging is at the heart of building stronger communities and a more cohesive, inclusive country. It is about how much we believe we fit in a group or place, and is also fundamental to our sense of happiness and well-being.”
Inclusiveness in the workplace, whatever it may be, is also fundamental to our sense of happiness and wellbeing, and belonging. The Hamilton Millennial Survey, the PEPSO studies and other research have shown us that precarious employment and income uncertainty can have a negative effect on a person’s ability and reason for participating in and feeling part of their community.
Read more about how Hamilton Community Foundation works to help make Hamilton an inclusive place for everyone in our latest annual report.