What Millennials Can Teach Other Generations About Work-Life Balance
The generation born between 1980 and 1995 is now firmly entrenched in the workforce, and they are committed to doing things a little differently than the generations that came before them. Their ideas are fresh and creative, and they bring unique experiences and special areas of strength to the table. With these differences in mind, it’s not surprising that their professional goals, and the way millennials pursue them, are diverging from the path laid out by earlier generations.
(Photo Credit: Office Now/Flickr)
One thing everyone does agree on is that your 20s are a critical time in your life. You enter the world in a different way during this decade, and lay the groundwork during this phase for your 30s and 40s. However, it seems that millennials are focusing on their careers differently during their 20s than members of other generations.
Research by PwC on millennials in the workforce revealed some fascinating information. The survey, which PwC conducted alongside the University of Southern California and the London Business School, explored the forces that are influencing millennials’ experience as employees. These include: workplace culture, communication and work styles, compensation and career structure, career development and opportunities, and work-life balance.
Here’s the fascinating part: The study showed that for millennials, work-life balance is perhaps the single most important factor when choosing, and keeping, a job.
It might be beneficial for members of this generation, and also the individuals that came before them, to reflect on this idea. Maybe we can all learn something from it — about ourselves, our professional lives, our personal lives, and whether or not we want to blur those lines a bit more going forward.
Here are some thoughts for millennials on work-life balance.
1. Work-life balance IS really important.
Just because other generations didn’t pursue balance the way that your generation does, that doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong. People didn’t really begin to talk, or even think, about work-life balance as a concept before recent years — it just wasn’t in their consciousness. But, you grew up thinking about it. You likely had two parents who worked, and worked hard, and you wondered how you might do it differently. Work-life balance really is important. You should feel proud that you know that, and don’t doubt the validity of feeling that it’s a priority for you.
2. Some people, probably older people, aren’t going to get it.
Our culture has always valued hard work. Using your 20s to get ahead professionally was sound, tried, and true advice for people for generations. If those kinds of lectures make you cringe, don’t be surprised when the person you’re having the conversation with responds the same way once you’ve explained the way you see things. Traditionally, you are supposed to work very hard in your 20s, as this will set you up for greater success down the road. But, it will also set you up to continue to work very, very hard.
3. The world has changed.
With all of the new opportunities available to workers in 2015, you have options. Maybe you don’t have to spend your entire life “working” in the traditional sense. Perhaps you’ll blur the lines a little more than your parents did. Maybe our culture can start to shift away from the grind mindset just a little, with your help. We shouldn’t keep working our lives away just because we always have.
4. Be intentional about it.
Maybe you’re on to something, millennials. There is no doubt that work-life balance is more important to people today than it has been in the past. No matter what you decide the most important factors are for your job and career, consider the importance work-life balance holds for you. You might not end up as successful professionally as you would have been if you’d worked harder during your 20s — but, as you know, that really depends on how you define success.
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Gina Belli works as a teacher, freelance writer, and educational consultant, and lives in her beloved home state, Connecticut. She likes to write about education, work-life balance, and the economy. Given her arresting capacity to over-analyze anything interpersonal, her writing often tends to focus on some of the more emotional aspects of workplace connections and disconnections, as they relate to partnerships and teams, personality and communication styles, and leadership. In her free time, she likes to putter around her renovated one-room schoolhouse home, take walks in the woods, and eat as much guacamole as she can get her hands on.