Two weeks ago, I posted about a Gallup survey that asked workers whether or not their jobs are ideal. One trend that emerged from the survey highlighted young workers and their dissatisfaction with their jobs. Dissatisfaction might be misleading, but the young workers are less likely than their older colleagues to consider their jobs ideal. The connection to low pay is a likely factor, but another issue could factor into the equation, too.
Yet a story that ran on NPR yesterday brings up another point: Young workers are concerned about work-life balance. The story explains that work-life balance is nothing new, but employers have historically associated the issue with working parents, not young newcomers.
You may have heard that millennials in the workplace are lazy and feel “entitled,” but sociologist Phyllis Moen says that’s a bad rap. She says young workers simply don’t want to wait decades until retirement for their quality of life — an attitude that has been reinforced by the recession, as they’ve seen parents and boomer relatives lose their jobs.
The story went on to explain that work-life balance is not just the concern of working parents or millennials. Every age group wants to find personal time away from their busy professional lives. Just last week we mentioned the e-leash and how it’s restraining workers on a daily basis. As the article points out, the younger generation of workers is comfortable with gadgetry and views technology as a tool that enables them to work away from the office or on their own clock. Not everyone, including your boss, agrees, but this view is a reality of today’s workplace. In many professions, being at a cubicle is irrelevant to getting work done and workers wonder why they don’t have a little more flexibility.
Employers might think they offer an adequate amount of flexibility, while workers see it differently.
[Research] also shows that employees don’t find their workplaces nearly as flexible as managers report. Work-family experts say arrangements often appear more generous on paper than in practice and can be highly dependent on the generosity of immediate supervisors.
If work-life balance matters to you, keep the following tips in mind when looking for a job or considering a discussion with your boss:
-Can my job be performed from home?
-Would a flexible schedule (working earlier and leaving earlier or working later and leaving later) affect your job or your colleagues negatively?
-What work-life issues aren’t you willing to compromise on?
-Does your employer (or future employer) stress the importance of a work-life balance or does its values clash with your needs?
-How do you define work-life balance for yourself?
Balancing your personal and professional lives isn’t easy, and you could find yourself frustrated with your situation if you don’t understand what’s important to you. If you’re interviewing for a job or want to discuss new arrangements with your boss, walk into the meeting room knowing what you want.