Work Life Balance in Millennials vs. Boomers creates recruiting and staffing challenges

Posted by Bond Team | August 7, 2013 |

No one generation is exactly alike, however, the differences between the baby boomers and millennials are a bit more than first expected. As staffing and recruiting professionals are realizing, the priorities that each group focuses on when searching for a new position are vastly different, especially concerning work-life balance. The concept is often ambiguous because the perfect work-life balance is usually somewhat different for each individual. However, it is universally considered the balance between personal time and work and how flexible those lines are and whether the two worlds ever meet. Millennials are a bit more than first expected. As staffing and recruiting professionals are realizing, the priorities that each group focuses on when searching for a new position are vastly different, especially concerning work-life balance. The concept is often ambiguous because the perfect work-life balance is not the same for everyone. However, it is universally considered the balance between personal time and work and how flexible those lines are and whether the two worlds ever meet. 

How baby boomers view work-life balance

The baby boomer generation comprises those who were born between 1946 and 1964. Workforce Central Florida claims that this generation is categorized by the desire to succeed professionally. Often this generation is characterized as workaholics and are expected to thrive on competition and one-on-one meetings. Baby boomers believe in working hard to achieve each level in the corporate ladder and as a result, those of this generation often believe in paying your dues and that money and perks are the result of hard work and long hours.

For many baby boomers, taking time off from work or using traditional company hours to handle personal business is considered unprofessional. As a result, this generation is seen to firmly believe in a top heavy work-life balance – more time is spent in the office and trying to climb the corporate ladder.

How millennials view work-life balance

Millennials have a significantly different view about work-life balance in comparison to baby boomers. Workers in this generation were born between 1981 and 1999. The generation is characterized as tech-savvy, enthusiastic, confident and achievement-oriented. Often workers from this generation require variety and challenges and do not expect to “pay their dues.” Work autonomy and the desire to use preferred strategies and procedures are classic signs of a millennial.

“The Millennial generation is already transforming long-held management practices within the workplace. Employers who want to recruit Millennial employees and keep them engaged and happy will need to adapt to meet their needs,” said Dennis Finn, Vice Chair and Global Human Capital Leader at PwC. “PwC’s study discovered that the stereotypes about Millennial employees are more false than true. Millennials’ attitudes are similar to those of older employees.”

In terms of work-life balance, this generation focuses its attention on using work as a means to an end and believes that flexibility in the office is required for a positive career experience. According to PwC’s NextGen: A global generational study, millennials put a premium on work-life balance unlike previous generations. Often individuals from this group do not believe that early career sacrifices are worth potential rewards and they want a balance between time spent at work and at home. In addition, because individuals from this generation grew up multitasking with the help of technology, they are more prone to blurring the lines between work and their personal lives. It’s not uncommon for a millennial to answer personal emails during working hours or to leave the office for an appointment and return later. 

Is the difference in opinion impacting how each group is viewed?

The difference in opinion about the importance of work-life balance, as well as a host of other issues, are causing friction between the two groups. It’s not uncommon to hear older generations talk about millennials being lazy or entitled, while the younger set believe older workers are stuck in less efficient working practices.

Forbes reported that this divide on workplace etiquette has made generational intelligence a key requirement for any recruiting and staffing professional. The takeaway for recruiting and staffing firms is that you need to develop and use generationally applicable recruiting and placement techniques to assure your customers that there is a great fit between the job and the candidate/employee. That way everyone achieves their goals in balancing work and life – and for you, in successful recruiting and staffing.

Category: Management

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