Work-Life Balance and the Millennial Mindset

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The new generation of workers and college grads entering the workforce today are in the group called Millennials. This new workforce was predominately born after 1982 and before 2002. This group is also known as Gen Y, Gen X and is sometimes referred to as Gen Z will be taking over many positions as the Baby Boomer generation starts to retire. So how is the workforce coping with how how to motivate and meet the expectations of this generation?

If you want perspective on how millennials view work-life balance, well, it’s probably best to go right to the source. Writing recently in her blog, Memoirs of a Millennial, college senior Sarah D. Simpkins shared her decision to scrap long-held dreams of living and working in New York City for a job opportunity in Tennessee.

The balancing act

“This is the part where you have to be honest with yourself about what type of life you want outside of work,” Simpkins wrote, adding that an entry level professional job in New York City would likely include long hours in the office.

“In all honesty, a 60+ week is not what I wanted,” Simpkins writes. “I want time to meet new people whatever city I’m living in, I want time to write and I want time to travel and read and learn and breathe. If I have to stay late some days, that’s fine, but I took a position where I’ll be able to have a life outside of work.”

Simpkins words succinctly capture the commonly held millennial view that places a high priority on work-life balance.  That mindset is particularly relevant to employers seeking talent at a time when millennials now make up the largest percentage of active workers.

Mercer’s What’s Working survey asked 2,400 US employees to share their views on work/life balance.

Companies are seeking to balance their needs with the priorities and working styles of Generation X, Y and Z.

How do millennials want to work?

Writing recently in the Huffington Post, authors Kari Dunn Saratovsky and Derrick Feldmann emphasized that millennials are seeking what they describe as “work-life blending.”  The authors say millennials are not adverse to working long hours, but are put off by  “the need to be physically present and onsite in order to accomplish the organization’s mission, thus undercutting their highly valued flexibility.”

Work from Home Fridays infographic by Splashtop

Smart companies are looking for ways to meet millennial needs. As Jeff Gennette, Chief Merchandising Officer at Macy’s said during a recent keynote address to colleagues, “They’re not going to change, so we need to.”

Blending work and life a top priority

Job-seeking millennials should look for employers who value work-life balance and are willing to adapt to a changing workforce. Because as a recent Forbes headline stated: Millennials Will Inherit the Earth. And when they do, you can bet they will strive to  avoid the workaholic lifestyle of many baby boomers that came before them.

Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) asked graduate employees currently working in London about their motivations, attitudes and expectations of work and life balance.. Here’s what they had to say:

Specifically, the PwC survey showed that millennials want workplaces that:

  • nurture a work-life balance
  • allows them the freedom to access social networks, connect with friends, use their own mobile devices and work from remote locations
  • access to healthier living
  • gives them the ability to make a strong impact
  • offers the flexibility to work from home and plenty of time off

What is this generation offering to give in return?  “They’ll happily take work calls from home, check their email on “off-hours,” and even view co-workers as friends in real life and online,” wrote the Huffington Post, authors Kari Dunn Saratovsky and Derrick Feldmann.

Indeed, a study by Millennial Branding and that examined the profiles of 4 million Facebook pages, found that, on average, millennials are connected to 16 coworkers on Facebook — proof of their willingness to blend their work and personal lives.

As millennial Sarah D. Simpkins put it: “You haven’t failed if your job isn’t who you are. On the contrary, you have succeeded. You have found a job that caters to at least one aspect of your personality and lucky for you, me, and the world, that isn’t the only personality trait that you have.”

How millennial are you?

Take the Pew Research Center’s 14 item quiz and we’ll tell you how “Millennial” you are, on a scale from 0 to 100, by comparing your answers with those of respondents to a scientific nationwide survey. You can also find out how you stack up against others your age.

Let us know how millennial you are!

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