Only 53 percent of workers say their employer values work-life balance, and only 43 percent say their employers offer programs and policies that allow for flexibility, according to a 2016 survey from the American Psychological Association.
Yet, nearly half of American workers would forgo the corner-office job and a high salary to gain more flexibility in their schedules. And Millennials value work-life balance higher than all other job characteristics such as job progression, use of technology, and a sense of meaning at work.
4 Benefits of Achieving Better Work-Life Balance
- Enhances health.
Achieving a fluid balance between work and life can improve physical, mental, and social health. Some studies have correlated taking time off from work with a reduction in health issues like coronary heart disease.
Authors of Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, John Tierney and Ron Baumeister, state that midday breaks can replenish an employee's willpower and improve judgment and decision-making in the afternoon. Removing oneself from work also allows for more time to invest in social relationships--with a spouse, kids, friends, family, and so on.
- Increases productivity.
Research shows that employees who take time off are more productive. Removing oneself from work, via a workout or nap for example, can recharge the brain to face the day's remaining challenges.
In the Harvard Business Review article "The Productivity Paradox: How Sony Pictures Gets More Out of People by Demanding Less," Tony Schwartz wrote, "Human beings perform best and are most productive when they alternate between periods of intense focus and intermittent renewal."
- Boosts creativity.
In 1974, Art Fry invented the iconic Post-it Note during his "15 percent time," a company program at 3M that allowed employees to use a portion of their paid workday to pursue their own passion projects.
This type of program has since been adopted by companies like Google and Hewlett-Packard, who see how creativity unburdened from day-to-day work can lead to massive breakthroughs.
- Improves retention.
Employees (especially Millennials) who are able to easily manage work and nonwork-related responsibilities because they have some measure of control over their work schedules are likely to experience higher job satisfaction.
Employees who have the margin and control to deal with pressures and responsibilities at home are likely to be more present while at work, happier employees, and less inclined to leave the company.
(Want more strategies like these? Check out Ryan's latest book, The Millennial Manual: The Complete How-To Guide to Manage, Develop, and Engage Millennials at Work.)