Why finding work life balance for Generation-Y is an uphill battle

Workers around the globe have been finding it harder to juggle the demands of work and the rest of life. A new report shows many people are working longer hours, declining promotions, switching jobs and careers, deciding to delay or forgo having children, discontinuing education, or struggling to pay tuition for their children.


The boss just doesn’t get it.

Close to 80 percent of Millennials (Generation Y) surveyed are part of dual-income couples in which both work full time. Of Generation X workers, people in their 30s and 40s now, 73 percent are. But of baby boomers, the generation born just after World War II that now occupies most top management positions, just 47 percent have a full-time working spouse. More than a quarter of baby-boomer workers have a spouse at home, or one who works part time or with flexible hours and is responsible for taking care of all home-front duties.

There is an empathy gap in the workplace.

Younger workers see that technology frees them to work productively from anywhere, but older bosses who are more accustomed to work cultures with more face time may see only empty cubicles. They are afraid people who don’t come to the office won’t work as hard.

Millennial workers, the group that companies say they are scrambling to attract and retain, are the most dissatisfied. Survey after survey show that what millennials most want is flexibility in where, when and how they work. Millennials were most likely in the survey to say that they would take a pay cut, forgo a promotion or be willing to move to manage work-life demands better.

Yet the survey found that 1 in 6 workers reports suffering negative consequences for having a flexible schedule. Lack of flexibility was cited among the top reasons millennials quit jobs. And nearly 40 percent of young workers, male or female, in the United States are so unhappy with the lack of paid parental-leave policies that they say they would be willing to move to another country.

In the United States, the only advanced economy in the world with no paid parental-leave policy, only 9 percent of companies offered fully paid maternity-leave benefits to workers in 2014, down from 16 percent in 2008, according to the Families and Work Institute’s National Study of Employers. For spouses and partners, 14 percent of U.S. companies offer paid leave, either partially or fully paid, down from 16 percent in 2008.

The institute found that the share of employers offering reduced hours and career flexibility also has fallen and that flexible work options are not available to all employees, but only to certain groups, such as parents.

“Wanting flexibility or work-life balance is the number one thing we hear all the time from candidates. It’s the number one reason why people are looking for a new job, by far,” said one recruiter at an international recruitment firm. “We’re definitely seeing more candidates asking for it. But companies still see it as making an exception. It’s still not the norm.”


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