Why is Work-Life Balance Important to Job Satisfaction for Gen Z & Millennials?

Are you doing your best to attract and retain top talent? Multiple studies have found that work-life balance has a resoundingly positive effect on the work performance of Millennials and Gen Z 1. They particularly value flexible working hours, annual leave, and the possibility of working from home as practices to achieve work-life balance. For those who wonder, Millennials are those born between 1981 and 1996, while those born between 1997 and 2012 are called Generation Z (or Gen Z). Considering that Millennials and Gen Zers are poised to become the major demographic in workplaces, prioritising work-life balance is imperative to your business’s success.

What is Work-Life Balance?

Work-life balance can be defined as the ability to balance professional responsibilities with personal interests and obligations. The concept of ‘giving workers a break’ can be traced back to the 1800s, when unions and industrialists realised that workers required a day off2. Later, a day’s break turned into a two-day ‘weekend.’ However, this was initiated before the internet was created, meaning workers were able to leave work once it was time to go home.

Technological advances in the past 2 decades have led to an ‘always on’ work culture. Remote working technology and smartphones make it harder for people to ‘switch off’ completely from work and rest.

Achieving a good work-life balance is a global challenge. For instance, in Australia, 13% of employees put in very long hours, meaning 50 hours or more a week3. The optimal number of work hours is around 38 – 42 hours a week. However, in Singapore, employees reported the highest working hours per week, 45, across 10 places in Asia Pacific, according to a London-based research4.

Why Is Work-Life Balance Important and How To Do It?

Evidence shows long work hours affect physical and mental health, increase stress, and jeopardise safety. A healthy work-life balance can lead to a number of benefits, including improved physical and mental health, enhanced productivity, and more rewarding relationships. Employees who feel supported with their work-life balance decisions are reported to be more likely to stay with the company.

Apart from flexible working arrangements and clear separation between work and personal life, there are habits you can adapt to every day to improve work-life balance. For instance, you can learn to set the right boundaries, allow yourself to take breaks without harsh self-criticism, delegate tasks, and say no when you are close to burnout.

Read more: What Actually is Work-life Balance – Definition

Why Do Gen Z And Millennial Workers Seek Better Work-Life Balance Support?

According to a recent study by PwC, work-life balance is important for 95% of Millennials while being ‘very important’ for 70% of this generation5. Why do they value work-life balance so much? Here are some reasons:

Reason #1 Why Work-Life Balance Is Important To Gen Z & Millennials: Overworking

According to a study published by Slack, 43% of workers stay connected with work even while on vacation6. Millennials are the generation that tends to work during off-hours. Thanks to their familiarity with technology, they find it easy to blend work and personal life. For instance, they would check work e-mail in the morning while still in bed or shop online at work.

Reason #2 Why Work-Life Balance Is Important To Gen Z & Millennials: Success Looks Different

Millennials and Gen Zers do not equate owning tangible assets or getting ahead in their corporate career with success. Success no longer means an ‘ always on’ culture or working long hours. According to a Deloitte survey, 16.8% of these workers prioritise work-life balance when evaluating career opportunities, while 11% seek flexibility in terms of flexible work hours and remote working7. For these workers, success is all about gaining control over where, when, and how they work as well as accumulating interesting life experiences. A healthy work-life balance helps them achieve these goals.

Reason #3 Why Work-Life Balance Is Important To Gen Z & Millennials: Family Duty

In the US, for example, research has found that 25-29 is the most common age to become a manager and have a child8. For many Millennial managers, the work hours increase at a time when they start families or move into managerial roles. It is hard to manage their family, personal responsibilities, and work simultaneously. This means that for Gen Zers and Millennials, the demands of work tend to increase right when they are buying homes, marrying, and having children.

The End of Remote Work

Working remotely did not necessarily result in reduced work hours for many employees. A research from Allianz reviewed the surprising result that remote workers in Australia reported increased workloads and work pressure, as a result of remote, or hybrid working arrangements9. As social distancing becomes something of the past, we may be expecting the end of remote work. A whopping 90% of managements plan to require full return-to-office policies by the end of 202410. While many claim they enjoy the lack of commute to and from the office, others feel remote working blurs the line between personal life and work, thereby negatively impacting their mental health. 

What Can HR Leaders Do to Meet the Expectations of Gen-Zers and Millennials?

The starting point is to understand and respect work-life balance, and why work-life balance is important to them.

1. Increase Job Satisfaction With Focus On Employee Wellbeing

Seven out of ten employees in a survey said they want employers to take new initiatives to support their mental health and wellbeing, including:

  • Mandatory leave for mental health.
  • Mental health programmes.
  • More conversations on mental health from snior leadership.
  • Employee assistance programmes.

Give employees control over their working structure: Flexibility regarding working hours is one of the most important things Millennials and Gen Zers value. They also feel most comfortable when they can decide their working structure.

2. Foster Collaboration & Boost Job Satisfaction

While flexible hours and remote work opportunities are important, Millennials and Gen Zers also value social connections. Remote work can create a sense of isolation. Provide a work environment where teams can collaborate, interact and receive help and feedback from co-workers to boost job satisfaction.

3. Hire the right people

A negative work culture has a serious impact on all aspects of work and can hurt employee motivation, engagement, and productivity. One way to ensure a positive work culture is to hire the right people for the right job.

At Links International, we offer curated recruitment services to cater to your business needs. With over two decades of experience recruiting in Hong Kong and Asia-Pacific, we find the best talent that fits right into your work culture. Contact us to know more about our recruitment services.

1Source: Research Gate – “Work-Life Balance, Job Satisfaction and Performance Among Millennial and Gen Z Employees: A Systematic Review”

2Source: US Government – National Library of Medicine – “Work–Life Balance: History, Costs, and Budgeting for Balance”

3Source: Better Life Index – Work-Life Balance – Australia

4Source: The Business Times – “Singapore’s rich are the most unhappy in Asia with work-life balance”

5Source: PWC – Millennials at work: Reshaping the workplace

6Source: Slack – Workers are struggling to disconnect during the holidays. Here’s how managers can help

7Source: Deloitte – “The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey Winning over the next generation of leaders”

8Source: PR Newswire – “One third of full-time workers globally say managing work-life has become more difficult — younger generations and parents hit hardest”

9Source: Allianz – Mental health in the time of Covid-19: The impact on workers as they navigate work, home life and continued uncertainty

10Source: CNBC –“ 90% of companies say they’ll return to the office by the end of 2024—but the 5-day commute is ‘dead,’ experts say”

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