Work often takes precedence over everything else in our lives. Our desire to succeed professionally can lead us to set aside our own well-being. Creating a harmonious work-life balance or work-life integration is crucial, however, not only for improving our physical , emotional and mental well-being, but also for our careers.
What is Work/Life Balance?
The work-life balance refers to the level of prioritization between personal and professional activities in an individual’s life and the level at which activities related to their work are present in the home.
The ideal work-life balance is open for discussion. Paul Krassner, a freethinker, said that anthropologists often define happiness as having little or no differentiation between an individual’s professional and personal life.
The balance of working life is an important problem because of the increased technology that eliminates the importance of physical location to the balancing of work and life. In the past it was hard or impossible to take work at home, so the distance between professionals and individuals was clear.
The increase of mobile, cloud-based software and proliferation of the web have facilitated the ‘permanent’ work of employees, which confuses the distinction between professionals and employees. Some commentators argue that smartphones have replaced authoritarian control of managers and “always on” access to their workplace.
Stress is a common characteristic of a poor balance between working and living. In the information economy, a significant economic and health issue was identified as the mental stress, which was due to the employees’ perceived need to do more in less time.
A key question in the discussion of work-life balance is where employees have a good work-life balance. The general sense is that employers are responsible for the health of their employees, while stressed-out people are less productive and more susceptible to errors than morally responsible employees.
Baby Boomers and Work-Life Balance
This generation, born between 1945 and 1960, was exposed to many hardships at a young age around World War 2. It was not a small task to make a decent living and in turn this generation sought stabilization at work and value the opportunity for work. Because of this, the balance between work and life was not a primary concern or priority. For longer periods than subsequent generations, baby boomers tended to remain at companies. Many of these employees currently hold senior and managing positions requiring a high degree of responsibility. Consequently, 80% of baby boomers report moderate to high stress levels.
Gen X and Work-Life Balance
Gen Xers (typically born about 1961 and 1980) grew up as children of the baby boomers, witnessing their parents’ long hours and poor working-life balance. Many Gen Xers have been exposed to this effect on the family unit. Their workplace-life balance in their own lives has been thus emphasized by this generation. Many of these employees prioritize time spent with their families and are more likely than baby boomers to use their PTO. This makes Gen Xers a necessary precondition for a workforce in terms of the work-life balance.
Millennials and Work-Life Balance
A thousand-year-old has a fair amount of stereotypes. Generally, working ethic is considered a secondary or a “only part of life” for those born between the years 1981 and 2000. However, finding stable jobs to pay for both their own higher education and their children – as well as the rising living costs – remains one of the most important priorities for a generation born into the toughest student loan burden in history. With the generation growing up to more than a quarter of the American population and its early years it is still one of the biggest HR choices in any major company to figure out what attracts millennia.
To satisfy the expected wishes of millennial employees, many employers overcompensate by adding game rooms and beanbags to the work environment. WeWork, one of the most well-known of this new generation of property managers, recently made headlines by leasing the entire Manhattan office to IBM, a more than 100-year-old company that houses multiple generations of employees.
Many millennials, however, report that they do not care about these kinds of benefits. Instead, they are more interested in finding a career path that will support their “lifestyle,” which in this context means their out-of-work life. While Ping-Pong tables and free coffee are not necessarily scoffed at in this generation, it is important for employers to understand that the same factors that have pushed previous generations to choose which company to work for (pay, career path, job location, etc.) are still the main differentiating factors for the largest working generation in the U.S. Unfortunately for millennials, the 2017 Workplace Benefits Report by Bank of America Merrill Lynch found that 59% of millennials reported that they were worried about finding a career path that would support their own lifestyle.