“THE ONE THING LEADERS CANNOT DO IS NOTHING. THEY CANNOT WAIT FOR TRENDS TO PASS THEM BY, AND THEY CANNOT WAIT FOR MILLENNIALS TO GET OLDER AND START BEHAVING LIKE BABY BOOMERS.”
-Gallup State of the American Workplace Report
If there’s one thing industry leading reports like Gallup and the 2018 Job Seeker Nation Study agree on, it’s that Millennials are not Baby Boomers. The desire for something more than a stable salary with health insurance has increasingly become the norm for the younger workforce, and companies are taking notice. Moreover, company leaders are shaping policy, management, and workplace culture in order to suit these growing expectations; lest they fall behind and experience a talent drain.
Case in point: If you’ve been wondering whether or not it’s possible to expect—and attain—a position that includes flextime, work-from-home days, and enrichment perks; we have good news: the answer is yes.
In this article, we’ll dive into the reasons why it’s not only timely, but also completely acceptable to change jobs for a better work/life balance and career enrichment opportunities.
Work Life Balance as an Ideal
“37% OF EMPLOYEES SAY THEY WOULD CHANGE JOBS FOR ONE THAT OFFERED THEM THE ABILITY TO WORK WHERE THEY WANT AT LEAST PART OF THE TIME.” -Gallup State of the American Workplace Report
Even though bigwigs like Shark Tanker and real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran claim that work-life balance is a “myth”, that’s not to say that job/life balance is unachievable—especially for those who haven’t reached executive suite status yet.
Work/Life balance in the context of a traditional job looks a little different for everyone, including, but not limited to:
- Not being expected to answer emails on weeknights or weekends
- Having the option to work from home
- Have “flextime:” – meaning, working the same amount of hours but choosing those hours (i.e., 11a-7p or 7a-2p) – thus spending less time in traffic or being able to pick up children from daycare, etc.
- Be able to attend conferences and other career enhancement opportunities on company time and as part of their position description.
There are many reasons why Millennials and Gen Xers are more apt to desire the work/life balance approach to their careers; the first being that many are digitally native and have never experienced life without the internet, thereby expecting the flexibility of the world they were raised in to be present in their job; the second being that they are the generations that, in tandem with being digitally native, are now raising Generation Z; and last but certainly not least, the current economic reality requires that both parents to be employed full time.
It’s not a far-off educated guess: were baby boomers digitally native (and without the option to have a stay-at-home parent) while raising their families, they’d want the same flexibility in their careers.
“EMPLOYEES ARE CLEAR ABOUT THEIR desire to have more control over when and how they work. More than half of employees (53%) say a role that allows them to have greater work-life balance is “very important” to them when considering whether to take a new job. Similar numbers of employees (51%) say they would change jobs for one that offered them flextime, and 37% would do the same for a job that offered them the ability to work where they want at least part of the time.” – Gallup State of the American Workplace Report
Female Employees & Quality of Life
Women seem to be even more partial to work-life balance. We can’t say for certain that this is due in part to being saddled with more familial obligations, but given the overall history of parenting, it would be a fair guess.
In the 2018 Job Seeker Nation Study, 10% of women, as opposed to 6% of men, are more likely to leave a job because of work-life balance, while the Gallup report states: that “female employees are more likely than male employees to assign high importance to this job attribute, while millennials and Gen Xers are each more likely than baby boomers to do the same.”
And in LinkedIn’s 2015 Job Switcher’s Report, 26% of women are likely to leave a position due to unsatisfactory work-life balance.
Another reason why women might desire more work-life balance: they’re pursuing side-hustles like a micro-business or freelance work or passion projects. Fast Company cited a report commissioned by Freelancers Union and conducted by the independent research firm Edelman Berland, stating…
“The study found women are far more likely than men (71% vs. 51%) to freelance in order to pick up extra money, underscoring the persistence of the wage gap. They were also more likely to freelance to have schedule flexibility (58% of women vs. 43% of men) and to “have independence from such things as office dynamics” (40% vs. 26%).”
Make sure to pick the right company for a good fit.
To be fair, companies are currently having to straddle 3 generations—baby boomers, Gen X, and Millennials—each with their own ideal version of what a day-to-day job and overall career look like, and each in their own different phase of life. It’s not always simple for companies to know what perks are worth investing in, but there are some pitfalls in taking an easy way out. For example, in a Forbes article about work-life balance, author Alan Kohll advises against companies making empty gestures like bean bag chairs and free coffee instead of real culture shifts, like flextime and remote work days. The Gallup report states the same thing, stating:
“Employees who are already on the fence in terms of engagement may actually regard pingpong tables and free meals as an empty gesture — a Band-Aid fix for a much bigger problem.”
However, many companies are already following suit. Co-Founder and CEO of Forge, Stacey Ferreira, in her Inc article, states:
“Ultimately, work-life balance and flexible work options create happy employees and a positive work environment. This translates to improved productivity, greater employee loyalty and engagement, greater bottom lines, and a stronger definition of success for employees and organizations alike. It’s time to start demanding autonomy, flexibility, and happiness in your work.”
Ultimately, the Millennial generation will determine what the future of work will look like, because eventually their numbers will topple the other generations—and the best and brightest companies will benefit from getting on the work-life balance train as early as possible. The Gallup report states:
“The modern workforce expects autonomy, and many employers have taken note. An increasing number of companies offer work-from-home and flexible working arrangements for their employees. According to a 2016 Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) benefits survey, 60% of companies offer their employees telecommuting opportunities — a threefold increase from 1996.”
Actions to take now:
Hopefully this article has convinced you that it’s not only totally ok to prioritize work-life balance — it’s a great idea to seek out companies that do as well. Those that are implementing this important factor into their workplace culture are on the leading-edge of an inevitable sea-change in the way we approach jobs and lifestyle.
And before you start applying to those positions, grab your free copy of Dream Job Toolkit—this will jumpstart a SMART process to finding and landing your dream job—without ever applying online.