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How Are Millennials Evolving the Definition of Work-Life Balance?

There are many articles online talking about how millennials are a lazy and entitled generation. Some claim that millennials’ need for a work-life balance is this spoiled nature coming through, but is there any truth to this? Statistics tend to disagree.

Many studies have come out to show that millennials are actually a hard-working bunch. A 2016 study from ManpowerGroup that surveyed 19,000 millennials across 25 countries found that in Brazil, Norway, and the US, the average millennial is working a 45 hour week. In India, the average was even higher at a whopping 52 hours!

This work ethic extended beyond the employment sector and a further study conducted by Jim’s Group showed that millennials also spent more time tending to their home and its surroundings. Specifically, more than 1 in 4 millennials stating they mow their lawn at least once per week (the largest percentage of any age group).

So, what is it that’s making some people assume the generation’s laziness? In 2011, PWC conducted a study of 4,364 millennial graduates across 75 countries and found that a work-life balance was the most important benefit for those surveyed. Could this generation’s desire to work a job where they don’t sacrifice their personal life and commitments be playing a factor in the stigma, and how are millennials changing the definition of this work-life balance?

Working to live rather than living to work

While generations before them often celebrated working extra hours and wore their overtime as a badge of honor, millennials seem more likely to choose a job they can manage without neglecting their personal interests and hobbies. A 2016 study by Deloitte revealed that when salary is taken out of the equation, the most important benefit millennials look for in a job is a good work-life balance, with 16.8% of the almost 7,700 millennials surveyed giving this answer. This ideal is also reflected in a study by Boston College, which showed that although millennials wanted to progress in their careers, only around 20% were willing to do so at the expense of their personal lives and time spent with family.

Less company loyalty (in the traditional sense)

The idea of getting a job out of college and staying with that company until retirement may not seem super appealing to the millennial cohort. According to a 2016 report by Gallup, 21% of millennials responded that they had changed jobs within the past year, a number three times that of non-millennials. The report also showed millennials to be more opportunistic than other generations, with 60% responding that they would be “open to a different job opportunity”, a pretty high number when you consider the 45% statistic of non-millennials asked the same question. A study by Red Brick showed that 52% of millennials found the concept of employee loyalty to be overrated. However, millennials will show loyalty to a company if they feel valued. In a PWC survey, 62% of millennials admitted that their loyalty to their company was influenced by how much their employer cared for their financial well-being.

Additionally, the generation also seems eager to go it alone, with around 70 per cent seeing themselves working independently – rather than being employed in traditional organisations – at some point during their career.

Interest in flexibility

Many millennials are rejecting the notion of a 9 to 5 job, in favour of working the same hours scattered across the week. Thanks to technology, this is now an option for millennials, with many able to work from home due to the connected world we live in. According to Access Perks, millennials’ “mobile technology-centric lifestyles have made them view the traditional, 9-5, cubicle-dwelling work arrangement as outdated”. In the 2016 Deloitte study, 11% of millennials picked “flexibility i.e., remote working, flexible hours” as the most important factor of employment.

With this love of flexibility, it’s no wonder so many millennials are gravitating towards gig-work. Although often without traditional benefits, gig-work can allow workers to choose their own hours and work from home. In a study by Prudential, 67% of millennial gig-workers surveyed answered that they liked their current work situation and wouldn’t want it to change.

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