Millennials Want Work-Life Balance, Even if it Means Relocation

millennials want work-life balance

Everyone talks about work-life balance, but will Millennials be the ones to really make it happen?

A new EY study finds that Millennials – particularly Millennial parents – are so serious about finding work-life balance, they’re willing to relocate if it means finding a job that offers it.

Millennials are an influential generation, perhaps as influential in their time as the Baby Boomers were in theirs. And just as the Baby Boomers changed the face of the workplace a generation ago, Millennials may do the same in the coming years.

But what does this mean for your small business?

First, here’s a closer look at what EY found. Millennials want work-life balance, especially Millennial parents, and say finding work-life balance has gotten harder in the last five years. About half say this is due to increasing work responsibilities – ages 25 to 29 are when most U.S. employees move into management roles, so Millennials are taking on more duties at work.

However, ages 25 to 29 are also the age when most Americans become parents, so Millennials are facing a double-whammy.

In fact, some 44 percent of Millennials in the survey say work-life balance has gotten harder to achieve in the last five years due to more responsibilities at home. Not making things any easier, 78 percent of Millennials have a spouse or partner who also works full time, compared to 73 percent of Gen X and just 47 percent of Baby Boomers.

Ever since the one-wage-earner family of the 1950s became increasingly a thing of the past, each generation has gotten sandwiched between the demands of work and family. But Millennials are making a stink about it, and that means they’re more likely than other generations to get results.

Here’s how much Millennials want work-life balance: More than one-third (38 percent) are willing to move to another country if it means they will get better parental leave benefits.

Millennials in the survey are also more willing than other generations to pass up a promotion, change jobs, take a pay cut, or even change careers in order to achieve more flexibility.

Of course, you could say this is simply because they’re younger and more flexible — but even Millennial parents are willing to make these changes. And surprisingly, Millennial men are more likely than women to say they would do all of these things to attain work-life balance.

It seems the vision of the Millennial as the perfect employee who’s willing to work 7 days a week because he or she has no family ties is shifting as the Millennials settle down and start families (or think about doing so). So, how can you attract these employees and retain them at your business?

First, the study has some good news: Millennial employees are pretty easily satisfied. The survey reports that flexible work hours and the option to telecommute one or two days a week would be enough to keep most of them happy.

However, the key is to really walk the walk, not just talk the talk, when it comes to flexibility.

One-sixth of Millennials say they’ve experienced a stigma when they’ve actually taken advantage of family-friendly policies. For example, they may be passed over for a promotion or not get an expected raise.

Three-fourths (74 percent) say they want to be able to work flexibly, but still be on track for promotions and feel that their boss and managers support them.

EY offers four suggestions for making your company’s culture more hospitable to Millennials (and all workers):

  1. Consider your compensation and benefits holistically to ensure they support employees’ work and life needs.
  2. Actively work to prevent stigmas that may be associated with parental leave and flexibility.
  3. Focus on and reward results, not ‘clock punching’ or “face time.”
  4. For each activity, ask yourself if it’s a preference, tradition or requirement. For example, is being physically present at a weekly meeting a real requirement, or simply “the way we’ve always done it”? If the latter, perhaps a virtual meeting could get the same results.

It’s up to us to help Millennial employees get what they need from work and life — or risk losing them to competitors who do.

Millennial Photo via Shutterstock

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Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.