The problem of work-life balance is becoming more acute in organizations, and there is a disconnect between employers’ and employees’ perspective on this issue.
A study of the issue of work-life balance in Europe completed by Joan Lazar and published in the journal, European Research Studies (link is external), showed that competing and multi-faceted demands between work and home responsibilities have increased substantially in Europe, and the result has been many government-led policy initiatives. Her research shows that workers who feel they have some control over their working environment tend to suffer less stress-related ill-health; and turnover is less frequent.
Millennials will represent the majority of the workforce within the next few years. Employers that grasp the importance of understanding Millennials will be better positioned to adjust their employer branding strategies and employment offerings around the expectations of Millennials. Of these expectations, two stand out: Millennials rank achieving wealth below spending time with family followed by personal growth and learning. They spend a much higher value on having enough personal time. Work-life balance is critical to them.
WorkplaceTrends.com, a research and advisory membership portal servicing forward-thinking HR professionals, and CareerArc, a global recruitment and outplacement firm, announced the results of a new study (link is external)entitled, “2015 Workplace Flexibility Study.” The study was based on a national survey of 1087 professionals. The study included the following conclusions:
Dan Schawbel, Founder of WorkplaceTrends.com and New York Times best-selling author of Promote Yourself, said “Technology has expanded the 9-to-5 workday into the 24/7 workday, which has made it extremely difficult for employees to have personal time… In the future, every company will have flexibility program and those that don’t will lose the battle for the top talent.”
Part of the problem can be seen in the debate or push-back from employers. They are concerned that giving workers too much flexibility or “free time” will result in abuses. At the same time, there is no evidence to support the proposition that “face-time” or “seat time” is the equivalent of engagement or productivity, which can realistically only be measured by results. There are new studies now available that show that in organizations that provide flexible work-life balance arrangements productivity actually increases.
The other perspective that becomes part of the issue of work-life balance is that of gender. With the increase in the numbers of women in the workforce, combined with the predominant expectation that they will continue to shoulder most of the responsibilities of child-rearing, the lack of work-life balance becomes more acute.
My experience in coaching CEOs and senior executives is that work-life balance is a serious and troublesome issue for them. Increasing demands on their time, and brutal meeting schedules regularly interfere with their intentions to spend time with their families. But most interestingly, many of them express dissatisfaction about not having time for themselves, because precious little time is left over.
It’s clear from recent studies such as the WorkplaceTrends.com and CareerArc study, that the issue of work-life balance is becoming more significant, particularly in light of the large influx of Millennials into the workplace. Smart employers would do well to take note and become proactive.