For most people of previous generations, the concept of work-life balance was closely linked to the hours worked. However, in a world where technology allows for permanent connectivity, the 9-5 workday is disappearing. The working environment is changing too, but with it comes a blurring of lines between working life and private life. Work-life balance is a hot topic because, for many, it is increasingly elusive.
Our concept of work-life balance is now more focused on flexibility, driven by Millennials, who, despite the bad press, work longer hours than previous generations (ONS: People aged between 22 and 29 worked a median total of 37.4 hours per week in 2019. In contrast, those aged 30 to 49 worked for 37 hours per week, the numbers going down again above that.). Their thinking revolves less around hours worked, and instead focuses on greater freedom and energy to spare.
This may not interest older generation much, who often have little time for Millennials and their concerns. However, employers cannot afford to disregard them, as they, and Gen Z, are the workforce of the future. Firms need to consider how to attract the best talent in an environment of shifting goalposts.
The CIPD Annual Conference held in Manchester this year heard HR leaders speak of the changing attitudes. They discussed the challenges involved in attracting young talent, for whom flexibility and work life balance is more important than money. They concluded that employees will stay and work hard if firms can resolve this.
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