The Work and Life Balance: a Generation Defined by Disruptive Technology


Work-life balance has been eluding most of us since the dawn of time. Everyone wants more time to spend with their families or working on hobbies and activities they enjoy, and they want to spend less time stressing about their jobs.  Employers know that providing work-life balance makes for a happier workforce, but striking that balance is often difficult, especially in a multi-generational workforce. So just what do your employees want?

Work-Life Balance for Baby Boomers

Born between 1945 and 1964, baby boomers are typically results-oriented. They routinely sacrifice for the sake of their family, often putting work above all else. Boomers coined the phrase, “I live to work, I don’t work to live.” Boomers are now starting to deal with their own health issues, as well as acting as caretakers for their aging parents. Many boomers, at the same time, are supporting children or grandchildren, all while holding down a full-time career.

For boomers, work-life balance means flexibility. They need the freedom to take off if an ailing parent needs them, to drive that parent to the doctor, to handle their own health-related doctor visits, etc.  They want to unplug on weekends when they will spend time with their children and grandchildren.

Generation X, “The Slacker Generation”

Generation X were the latchkey children raised by baby boomers. They saw how much their parents sacrificed in order to bring home a paycheck, and they rejected the “live to work” notion. Gen X is the MTV Generation and was labeled the “slacker” generation in the early 1990s. They have since shed that label, but still retain their disdain for the status quo. Generation X is more independent than their parents, less loyal to employers, and more likely than baby boomers to seek out positions that make them happy. Gen X is the first generation of “helicopter” parent that we’ve seen, becoming overly involved in their children’s lives, likely as a way to overcompensate for their own workaholic parents.

For Gen X, work-life balance is also about flexibility. They want to be able to drop their children off at school and pick them up at the end of the day. They need to be able to stay home with sick kids, and they want plenty of vacation time to spend with them as well. Comp time, flex time, and telecommuting opportunities are ideal for Generation Xers.

Generation Y “The Me Generation”

The millennial generation was born after 1980. They were the generation where “everyone got a trophy,” whether they won or lost. Millennials are used to receiving constant (positive) feedback from their parents and teachers, and they seek out that feedback in the workplace. Unlike the generations before them, they don’t see the value in “paying their dues” in the corporate world, and they are the least loyal of all generations. Millennials look for jobs that align with their personal goals and personal values. Since many live at home or have parents who support them, they have the freedom to leave a job as soon as they feel something is out of alignment.

Generation Y is the Internet Generation. They are constantly connected and feel that work can happen from anywhere. They find little value in reporting to a cubicle for a 9-5 job, especially if they stayed up late the night before to work from their tablet.  Millennials believe that if the work gets done, it shouldn’t matter where it happened or at what hour.

What Can Employers Do?

Employers dipping their toes into the work-life balance debate can start slowly. There is no need to let everyone work from home full time.  Flex time is easy to implement, especially for hourly employees. Instead of mandating 9-5, allow the team to work any 8 hours between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. (or whatever hours make sense). This allows parents to either drop their kids off at school or pick them up, gives people time to run personal appointments if need be and gives them a little more freedom without wrecking productivity.

If you are looking for creative ways to provide better work-life balance in your South Florida company, and if you’re looking to improve your hiring processes across the board, contact the team at CERS today. We can help you develop programs to attract the right talent, keep that talent happy, and ensure they stay engaged for the foreseeable future. We look forward to helping you achieve your goals.

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