June 17, 2015

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Workfront Survey Uncovers the Generational Differences in Perception of Work-Life Balance

Press Release

June 17, 2015

Silicon Slopes—For better or worse, technology is becoming almost unavoidable in our everyday lives, and although technology is convenient, it's also making it more difficult to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Interestingly enough, every generation views and struggles with work-life issues in different ways. Among the results of a survey released by Workfront, the leading provider of cloud-based Enterprise Work Management solutions, and conducted online by Harris Poll, found that only 22% of baby boomers (age 55-64) said answering a work email during dinner was acceptable. On the flip side, 52% of millennials (age 18-34) had no issue with taking out their smartphones to send a response while sharing a meal with family.

This isn't the only topic where the two generations didn't see eye-to-eye. When asked what can have the most negative impact on an employee's work-life balance, nearly 70% of baby boomers felt that bad bosses had the most negative impact, opposed to just 51% of millennials. Baby boomers were also more likely to view incompetent colleagues as a major contributing factor to having a negative work-life balance (39%) than those 18-34 did (29%).

"There has been a lot of talk during the past few years about the differences between baby boomers and millennials in the workplace," said Joe Staples, chief marketing officer of Workfront. "And while some differences between the groups definitely exist, people's desires for healthy work-life balance is universal. It isn't so much an age thing, as it is about the attitudes that have been formed based on the work experiences that people have had. As an example, while baby boomers started their careers in a world where they didn't have technology at their immediate disposal to answer a work email at all hours of the day, for millennials, this is all they know. What we are trying to accomplish with this survey is to help employers understand these differences, allowing them to better manage across their entire team."

Despite these differences in opinion, there were a number of places where baby boomers and millennials were actually in agreement:  

  • It's your party… but I couldn't show up if I wanted to — Millennials (54%) and baby boomers (53%) both said they have missed important life events because of work. They also both agreed that one of the more negative consequences of having a bad work-life balance was their inability to fully focus when they were actually with family because they were still thinking about work (millennials 43% vs. baby boomers 39%).
  • I'll have a side of "off the clock" for dinner — Both groups agree (millennials 56% vs. baby boomers 58%) that technology has ruined the modern dinnertime. Baby boomers (85%) and millennials (88%) also agree that it's important for employers to respect their time off the clock.
  • Will yoga make my work schedule more flexible? — When asked to name what had the most negative effect on an employee's work-life balance, millennials (35%) and baby boomers (39%) agreed that inflexibility in work schedules played a big part. Not surprisingly, both groups said flexible work schedules would make their work-life balance better (millennials 72% vs. baby boomers 71%).

Addressing the problem, Workfront helps to solve today's work-life imbalance by providing a single software tool where employees at all levels can collaborate in the context of work and gain complete visibility into the work that is being done. By having a single application where work is assigned, prioritized, and managed, managers can track work progress at a glance, team members can better plan their work, and all collaboration is done in the context of the work. This type of work organization can help employees get more done and have more time for the other side of the work-life equation.

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