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Work-life balance can be a make-or-break work perk when hiring new employees. The ability to spend time on yourself, rather than your employer, is almost a necessity when it comes to millennial hiring, despite the fact that millennials have been found to be the generation most likely “to remain ‘on’ during off hours’.”
Because of the constant push to do more with less, many employees are working longer hours, although on average, the workday in wealthy countries is getting shorter and shorter. According to 2016 LinkedIn survey, “nearly half of American workers would forgo the corner office job and a high salary to gain more flexibility in their schedules.” The global thirst for spare time is so strong that workers are prepared to derail their careers over it.
With that in mind, is work-life balance making us happy? Is it helping us reach our goals?
Research has shown that the key to happiness lies in finding meaningful work. Not only is the knowledge that we are making a valuable contribution to society driving our life satisfaction, it also helps us live longer. So then why are workers clamoring to escape the workplace?
The issue could lie in how each of us defines “work-life balance” itself. We have different demands of our free time and our organizations’ attitudes towards work-life balance at every stage of life. Parents may be more apt to separate their work lives from their home lives than those fresh out of university. That said, if work is so toxic that it needs to be cleanly separated from our personal lives, perhaps the issue is with the work itself. Additionally, we could be limiting our careers by separating work from our outside lives. Not only are we more likely to come up with our greatest ideas when we are constantly thinking about a topic, having strong friendships with our coworkers that permeate into our private lives increases our overall job satisfaction. The integration of our work and home lives can also yield surprising results, with studies showing that working from home can make you more productive. Perhaps the key to leading happier lives isn’t finding the right work-lifebalance, it’s finding the right work-life blend.
This work has been funded by Viewpoint Foundation.