December 6, 2023
Millennials, notorious for demanding work-life balance, search for something widely desired

Anna Bohr has built her career around flexibility.

The 29-year-old has worked in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles for over three years. She chooses freelance and full-time gigs and posts her content on social media to make a way for herself without any strings attached.

“I definitely lean more toward the Gen Z culture of trying different things,” said Bohr, an assistant to social media personality Noah Beck. “We’re not letting anything define us.”

But his boss didn’t always see things the same way. He said that he and his supervisors, then in their 40s and 50s, had conflicting ideas about what an employee’s working life should be like.

“They look at it like, ‘You’re my assistant, and this is what you can do,’” said Bohr, who added that he disapproved of posting about his life and career on TikTok.

In her current job, she works with a younger team that takes a more open-minded approach to things like dress codes. For example, they might wear sweaters and jeans instead of corporate-friendly business attire, and they don’t mind if she works remotely, which is different from previous roles.

“They’re not so focused, like, ‘You have to keep your time in the office from 9 to 5,’” he said.,

Bohr is one of many young professionals whose flexible approach to their work lives may differ from previous generations, contributing to the widespread stereotype that Gen Z and millennials have different priorities — and even That’s messed up too.

What is the general formula?

For example, an April survey of more than 1,300 business leaders and managers commissioned by found that 74% believe Gen Z is more difficult to work with than other generations. Respondents who felt so cited a lack of technical skills, effort and motivation among those workers born between 1997 and 2012.

The survey also found that 65% said they need to fire Gen Z employees more often than other age groups. Millennials have also been the subject of debate regarding their perceived laziness and entitlement in the workplace.

But according to a survey by The Harris Poll published exclusively for USA TODAY, employees of all ages have similar work values, even though their attitudes — such as the freedom to create a stir on social media — may differ.

Nearly 3 in 4 Boomers and Gen Xers said they care more about who they are outside of work, according to a Harris Poll survey of 2,117 adults conducted Aug. 25-27. Even more Millennials (79%) agreed with that statement, along with 69% of Gen Zers.

What differs is how each generation attempts to achieve that balance.

How do Gen Z and Millennials achieve balance?

Gen Z and Millennials openly demand flexibility – remote work, varying daytime work hours, and more time to nurture their mental and emotional self.

Henry Green, a 29-year-old software developer in a Chicago suburb, enjoys his work, but actively tries to resist the “grindset,” where work and long hours always take priority. He puts his laptop in his bag at the end of the workday and generally doesn’t respond to Slack messages after scheduled hours.

“I see the job as a means to fulfill my life and my hobbies,” said Green, who likes tinkering with cars and playing video games.

Before she started setting limits for herself, she felt pressure to perform at a high level, which was detrimental to her well-being.

However, their current employer supports workers’ efforts to balance their lives and encourages them to take mental health days when needed.

Before that change, he described himself as “To be seen as a rock star, you know?” Were working.

How do older workers balance work and life?

Boomers and Gen Xers have defined work-life balance in blocks of hours.

Vitaly Katsnelson, a Gen is more.” The IMA in Colorado says that’s why it tries to avoid calling its employees outside of work hours. “If I call outside of business hours, it’s In fact an emergency.”

In exchange for those work-free hours, he expects people to be present and completely focused on work. “When you come to work, you need to work.”

Have views changed?

Being stuck at home or laid off from jobs during the pandemic has opened many people’s eyes to remote work, new schedules, and different ways to do it all.

Angela Landay, 36, who worked hard and long for eight years to become general manager at Panera Bread in suburban Chicago, quit her job a few years ago. She said she was tired of the massive churn of dedicated workers who were hired during the post-pandemic labor shortage — and left without other jobs.

At the end of the day, she asked herself: Why am I doing this, and for whom?

Quitting gave her more time to walk her four dogs, which ignited the idea for a business, Angela’s Pet Care.

“People trust me,” she said, “and I know how important it is to me to be able to trust someone to take care of my dogs. It feels more meaningful.”

Adam Harrison, 27, who works in technology sales in New York, said his thinking changed after seeing top-performing friends laid off because of the economic downturn last year.

While Harrison previously viewed work as an extension of his personality – a mindset he attributes in part to business school activities – he has since tried to make more time for personal activities, such as “match A podcast called “Made in Manhattan” that he creates with friends.

He said, “That doesn’t mean I’m not still passionate about my work. But… I’m trying to build a wall between work and personal life.”

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Still no one can escape the economy

Even as workers attempt to redefine work-life balance, they are not free from economic pressures.

The Harris Poll-USA TODAY survey shows that with the current economy, 70% of all respondents said the only thing that really matters about a job today is the salary, and a similar share said that He has chosen his career for financial security. Offer.

Bobby Brown, 25, who works at a Dunkin’ in Chicago, appreciates a steady paycheck, which is mostly what motivated him to work at the chain since he was 15. He started part-time and became a licensed electrician – but stayed with Dunkin’. ,

“If a company sends you out as an electrician, it’s also on a contract basis,” Brown said. “You may get work but it’s not enough and not that consistent. At least it’s consistent.”

Financial security is especially attractive when you have dependents.

Jackie Belloso, a 40-year-old Chicago nanny who immigrated from El Salvador and is a single mother, works long hours to care for her children, she said. However, he is lucky that he likes his job.

“I spend most of my day working, and if I don’t have a good day, then obviously I’m not going to be good at home,” she said.

He said that the younger generation seems different to him. Their 19-year-old daughter attends Columbia College in Chicago, lives her life, comes home and can sleep until 10 a.m. the next day.

“When I was her age, I would wake up at 5 in the morning and I had to work before school in El Salvador,” Belloso said. “Maybe it’s because we didn’t have everything we wanted, and they don’t suffer from that.”

where do we go from here?

Ashley Lundquist, managing partner of recruiting firm Thrive Talent, is optimistic that companies will learn and adapt to the new workforce paradigm.

“Once upon a time it was ping pong tables and beer kegs, it doesn’t matter to people anymore,” he said, recalling the tech boom days at the turn of the century. “People want flexibility, security, and they’re not willing to budge on that,” he added, “and in many ways, rightly so.” Sometimes things happen that don’t feel or seem great, but they lead to great innovation and great change.

Workers, on the other hand, will find gratifying work to look forward to, Katsenelson said. “You basically spend one-third of your life working,” he said. “That one-third of your life, you’re unhappy, you’re doing it just to collect a paycheck? What a miserable existence.”


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