Work Life Balance Improving

Workers' ability to juggle the demands of the office and home is on the upswing, with those in charge greatly aiding the cause, new research suggests. In the Robert Half Management Resources survey, the majority of professionals (52 percent) said their work-life balance has improved from three years ago.

Nine in 10 respondents (91 percent) reported their manager is very or somewhat supportive of their efforts to achieve this balance, and 74 percent said their boss sets a good or even excellent example.

The outlook is notably rosy among one group, in particular: the youngest workers.

• Professionals between the ages of 18 and 34 were more than twice as likely as those 55 or older to cite improved work-life balance (67 percent versus 31 percent).
• Sixty-two percent of younger workers reported their manager is very supportive of their efforts to achieve work-life balance, compared to 50 percent of the oldest respondents and 47 percent of those 35 to 54.
• Nearly eight in 10 (79 percent) of 18 to 34 year olds said their manager sets an excellent or good example.

Workers were asked, "How has your work-life balance changed, if at all, from three years ago?" Their responses*:

Improved significantly

23%

Improved somewhat

29%

No change

37%

Worsened somewhat

10%

Worsened significantly

2%

 

101%

 

Workers were then asked, "How supportive is your manager of your efforts to achieve work-life balance?" Their responses*:

Very supportive

54%

Somewhat supportive

37%

Not at all supportive

10%

 

101%

 

Workers also were asked, "When it comes to work-life balance, how would you characterize the example set by your manager?" Their responses*:

Excellent

31%

Good

43%

Fair

18%

Poor

9%

 

101%

*Responses do not total 100 percent due to rounding.

View data tables with the results by age group.

"Employers and employees alike are emphasizing work-life balance," said Tim Hird, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources. "Managers can help by giving their teams more freedom over where and when they work, if possible, and providing greater autonomy. These efforts go a long way to improve job satisfaction and retention rates." 

Hird sounded a word of caution. "Many companies view work-life balance as being particularly relevant to millennials, but employees of all generations are under pressure to meet both work and personal obligations," he said. "Businesses should promote work-life balance initiatives broadly and make sure all staff have the opportunity to weigh in on the perks that will best help them meet their goals."

Robert Half Management Resources provides five tips for managers to help their teams achieve work-life balance:

  • Understand employees' needs. Talk to your staff about their objectives and what you can do to help. Where one employee may benefit from working remotely a couple days, another may seek starting and ending his or her day 30 minutes earlier. Remain flexible and open-minded as you assist your team.
  • Show them the way. Are you sending emails at all times of the day and night, or are most of your communications delivered during work hours? Do you use your weekends to pursue personal goals or demand updated financial reports? Whichever options you choose, your staff are taking note – and figuring they must do the same.
  • Work with interim professionals. If to-do lists are expanding and the team is falling behind, bring in a consultant who can alleviate the burden and contribute specialized expertise. Project professionals can step in immediately to support your organization.
  • Spread the word. Employers commonly highlight their work-life balance offerings to job candidates, but you'll need to continue selling your company's program to current staff. Regularly and broadly communicate options available to workers.
  • Stay ahead of the pack. Views on work-life balance change, and what is in vogue today may not have the same appeal six months or a year from now. Stay on top of emerging trends to keep your program fresh and ensure you provide in-demand benefits.

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