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Work-Life Balance: What It Means To American Workers
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Work-Life Balance: What It Means To American Workers- Executive Leadership Articles

Work-Life Balance: What It Means To American Workers

Executive Leadership Articles

Work-Life Balance: What It Means To American Workers

With the plethora of media attention being paid to work-life balance perks, it can be easy to lose sight of what’s at the heart of balance: doing work we care about that supports the other important things in our lives. On-site laundry service, gourmet lunches, and meditation breaks are all special perks that we’d love to have, but only as far as they contribute to that basic concept. The Heartland Monitor Poll, conducted by Allstate and the National Journal, recently surveyed 1,000 Americans about their satisfaction and expectations for work and life, revealing that when it comes to balance, our needs aren’t that complicated.

Given the choice between two jobs, one with more pay but less flexibility and longer hours, and one with more flexibility but less pay, two-thirds of respondents chose the flexibility. Two thirds also ranked flexible working hours as “very important” or “somewhat important” for work-life balance, the single-most desired benefit among those surveyed. It was followed by certainty and advanced notice of work schedule, paid time for community service, more paid time for sick leave, and the flexibility to work from home.

Given flexible hours and more time outside of work, 49% of respondents said they’d spend more time with their families, by far the most popular response. 14% would give first priority to friends, hobbies, and recreation, while 13% would give it to learning and continued education.

Interestingly, 87% of poll participants say they are “living a good life,” with only 11% saying they aren’t. Asked to break this concept down to its elements, 87 % said being in good health is “very necessary” to living a good life, with 84% saying it was very necessary to enjoy enough quality time with family and friends. 78% said having good work-life balance is very necessary to living a good life. Providing financial security for family ranked only behind these three, in fourth place with 75% saying it was very necessary.

It’s probably no surprise that respondents listed their families first in their impact on enabling them to live a good life (84%), but employers came in second (78%), which explains the very phrase “work-life balance.” For while that “life” part is varied, with many of its components ranking higher than components of that “work” part, the work clearly makes most of the other things possible, in the eyes of respondents.

As a structured, closed-response survey, this poll didn’t allow for the more creative work-life perks to pop up in responses, so the on-site laundry doesn’t make an appearance in the report. However, what the numbers indicate is that most Americans already feel they are living the good life, and that the way employers can best enable that is to be responsive to the dynamic needs of employees with time and schedule. This is not to say that more creative benefits aren’t desired, but where they contribute to flexibility and how they support spending more time with family and friends is really the heart of their value. Employers who care about work-life balance would do well to keep these priorities in mind.

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Work-Life Balance: What It Means To American Workers- Executive Leadership Articles

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