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Workers Say Balancing Work And Life Is Getting Harder

We’re working longer than ever, and millennials are feeling the pain the worst. Will employers take note–or just keep squeezing?

Workers Say Balancing Work And Life Is Getting Harder
[Top Photo: Hero Images/Getty Images]

If you feel overworked in your job, take solace in this at least: You’re not alone. That’s the general trend in many countries, with more people saying they’re struggling for work-life balance.

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A survey commissioned by the consultancy Ernst & Young asked 9,700 full-time workers in eight countries about their work habits. About one third said “managing work-life has become more difficult” in the last five years, with about half of managers saying they now work more than a 40-hour week. Four in 10 said their hours have increased of late.

The online poll, covering the U.S., Germany, Japan, China, Mexico, Brazil, India, and the U.K., shows how different generations are experiencing the workplace. Almost half of the millennials surveyed said they were working longer, compared to 38% of Generation X-ers, and 28% of Baby Boomers. Workers in Japan and Germany were most likely to report growing work-life challenges. Among American respondents, about one quarter said work-life was becoming harder to manage.

Flickr user Jacob Bøtter

The study focuses on millennials–those reaching adulthood around the year 2000–many of whom are now going into management roles and having families. Ernst & Young says the stresses for this group are particularly high because both parents are more likely to work than in previous generations. Millennials are “facing a perfect storm of increased responsibilities by moving into management and becoming parents simultaneously,” says E&Y’s Karyn Twaronite.

Millennials are more likely to make job flexibility a priority, often wanting the option to work from home. They’re also more likely to expect paid parental leave and to actually take it when the time comes. As for why they might quit jobs, the respondents said “minimal wage growth,” “lack of opportunity to advance,” “excessive overtime hours,” “a work environment that does not encourage teamwork” and “a boss that doesn’t allow you to work flexibly”–in that order.

It seems that employers are becoming more demanding of workers, but also that new generations of workers are becoming more demanding of employers as well.

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About the author

Ben Schiller is a New York staff writer for Fast Company. Previously, he edited a European management magazine and was a reporter in San Francisco, Prague, and Brussels.

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