Work-life balance from the perspectives of different generations
Work-life balance seems to be an easy concept, right? But it´s the same as if you ask different people to imagine a horse. One can picture a white wild Arabian, but the other can think of a brown working horse. The concept of work-life balance is heavily influenced by the generation you belong to. Let´s have a look at how different generations view this concept.
Baby Boomers are very hard-working, loyal to their employers and often labelled as workaholics. They grew up listening to the horror stories of the Great Depression and War, so they cherish the opportunity to work, as it brings stability. The work-life balance isn´t something they consider an important thing. However, they can start attributing the meaning to it in the period of retirement or if they need to take care of their elderly parents.
Gen Xers are the children of the Boomers, meaning they saw their parents working long hours. They were often home alone after school, until the parents came back home from work, forming the so-called Latchkey kids. That´s why they value work balance more than their predecessors. For them it means having balanced time to be able to be there for their children, to go on family vacations, or to sometime work from home, when needed.
Millennials truly made the concept of work-life balance famous. As they grew up with technology, they can, and will use it to make their work smarter and simpler. They even want work-life integration, which means blurring the lines between work and personal time. It can have a form of working from home, wearing casual instead of formal clothes, flexible schedule and having the freedom to choose what they want to work on.
The generation that “wants it all”. Even though they are just entering the workforce, we can see some patterns already. They witnessed the burn-out syndrome, lack of free time and economic insecurities in the generations before them. What´s more, they emphasize the importance of environmental responsibility, and the values of the company must be in line with their values, otherwise, they will quickly move on. As for the work-life balance, they are much like Millennials. They prefer to have flexibility when it comes to working hours and the workplace.
How can we use this information? As we showed, different generations value different forms of work-life balance arrangements. You cannot please everyone, but the key to harvesting its benefits lies in communication. By talking to the employee’s different tailored approaches to the work-life balance can be made, that will truly serve the needs of the employees.
The opinions of the author are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Consortium.