How Work/Life Blend is Replacing Work/Life Balance
- Work/life balance (impossible in this 24/7/365 world)
- Generational change (inevitable)
- Corporate social responsibility (worthy and workable)
Here's the thing: There isn't much down time in our busy lives. For many of us, time off only happens in micro-doses, so we need to feel fulfillment in all areas of our lives - including (maybe especially) our jobs.
And make no mistake - while many firm leaders think it's only younger professionals who are looking for these things, they are wrong. The pressures are cross-generational. The difference is that millennials are starting their careers with this as their reality (in much the same way they are digital natives) while Gen Y and Boomers have to adjust and adapt to these changes.
Wanting to work for a firm that respects one's personal ideals and values should be a mainstream concept. It is not only about a paycheck. That is why surveys estimate that 60-75% of employees are at least passively interested in changing employers.
Employers who embrace the idea that the new norm is a blend of work and life have a big step up as they try to attract talent in a tight market.
Talented professionals at all levels and of any age are asking questions like these:
- Do I feel good about having the flexibility to meet my lifestyle and/or family obligations?
- Is my employer committed to giving back?
- Am I getting the training I want to advance my skills?
- Will my desire to do community service fit with the employer's needs?
- Does the firm value good communications?
- Will my observations/suggestions be valued?
These things matter.
Think about it. Even if we spend only eight hours a day at the office and one hour commuting, it adds up to more than one-third of the day. Now add in the time spent thinking about work, planning for upcoming tasks or answering job-related texts, e-mails and phone calls outside of work hours, etc. Probably another hour or two. Eating, sleeping and other family and personal obligations take up another 10 to 14 hours. When it's all added up, there probably are only a maximum 2-4 leisure hours per work day. (Weekends come with their own set of time constraints, but we aren't going to talk about that here.) And amidst of all of that, our brains are bombarded by the thousands of bits of information we get each day from various sources (some estimates say we see 700-800 advertising messages alone).
It's no wonder we need a few minutes during the work day to give our brains a rest. Engaging with friends on social media, playing a quick game on our phone or checking the latest news online can be a 5 or 10 minute recharge that makes a world of difference. Additionally, not having to go undercover or “call in sick” to take care of personal tasks such as responding to a text or phone call, running out for a quick errand, paying a bill or stepping out for a parent breakfast or program at our child's school makes life so much easier. The idea of balance (with work on one side and personal life on the other) is becoming a thing of the past. It's expected (and accepted!) that we will respond to work emails and texts from home at night and attend business dinners after hours. Shouldn't it go both ways? A nice blend… kind of like a work/life cocktail.
More and more employees are coming to expect that their personal values and priorities be part of the work equation. Jacqueline Reyes (who was interviewed for our What Millennials Want blog post), made it clear during her interviews with E&Y that she needed a certain amount of flextime to do community service. And she got it.
Work/life blend is all about fitting the pieces of each person's work life and personal life into a mosaic that works for them.