During the pandemic, the way in which millions of people around the world worked changed forever. In the aftermath, it has become increasingly common for companies to facilitate remote work for their employees, either on a full-time basis or following a hybrid model.
But how have these massive changes impacted the lives of employees? The work/life balance has always been essential to maintain and nurture. However, from the number of hours spent in the office to sleep quality, many aspects can offset the equilibrium.
To gain a better understanding of where Americans across generations stand on their work/life balance, CommercialCafe recently carried out a nationwide survey. In it, they asked about numerous aspects, including stress levels, job satisfaction, and other work and lifestyle details. Here are their findings:
Gen Z, Least Likely Generation to Work from Home
It’s easy to assume that remote work is more common among younger people, but the survey tells a different story. Notably, only 41% of surveyed Zoomers worked from home, compared to 48%, 49%, and 46% of Millennials, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers, respectively. A further 15% of Zoomers followed a hybrid schedule, while 45% worked at the office full time.
This perhaps isn’t surprising given that many Zoomers hold entry-level positions that typically require hands-on training and more physical presence.
Across all the generations, remote and hybrid models combined now exceed working at the office by a wide margin. This is a considerable shift from the pre-pandemic years, with 46% of all participants surveyed working from home in 2022.
Younger Generations Less Happy with Their Work/Life Balance
When asked whether they were satisfied with their work/life balance, a quarter of Zoomers responded that they were dissatisfied. This compares to just 12% of Baby Boomers and 20% of Millennials and Gen Xers.
However, with 50% of Zoomers stating they were happy with their work/life balance, the group has seen a 5% increase from the previous year. This upward trend suggests that as they became more accustomed to work and their role in the workplace, Zoomers started feeling happier about it.
While Millennials and Gen Xers boasted a higher satisfaction percentage than Zoomers, both have seen quite a drop since last year. Millennials have gone from 73% of participants feeling satisfied with their work/life balance in 2021 to 61%. Likewise, gen Xers have dropped from 68% to 63%. This hints that recent economic changes and a shift in childcare and school regulations have altered their perception.
The Impact of the Pandemic on Work/Life Balance
As the work world changed to accommodate more remote and hybrid solutions, it inevitably impacted work/life balance. Once more, Zoomers were the outliers and were the only generation with a higher percentage of people believing it got worse since the pandemic. Only 35% of Zoomers believe it improved, compared to 41% who thought otherwise. The remainder saw no change.
The other generations reported a better work/life balance since the pandemic. For Baby Boomers, 46% thought it improved compared to just 17% who believed it deteriorated.
For Millennials, 34% of participants believed their work/life balance got worse, an increase of 12% compared to last year.
Remote Work Seen as Beneficial for All Generations
One thing that all the generations could agree on was that working remotely had at least some positive impact on their work/life balance. Only 8% of Millennials said that the ability to telecommute hadn’t helped their work/life balance, compared to 72% who had benefited from it. For Gen Xers, 77% of the people surveyed believed that working from home had a positive impact.
Flexibility vs. Salary?
The four generations surveyed were somewhat split regarding what they valued most; pay or flexibility. Millennials and Baby Boomers seemed to appreciate flexibility more and were open to taking a pay cut to get it. Meanwhile, neither gen Xers nor Zoomers were happy to make that sacrifice, with 70% of Zoomers and 63% of Gen Xers saying they wouldn’t trade salary for flexibility.
Again, for Zoomers, this makes sense. They’re primarily working entry-level jobs aiming to earn a higher salary rather than taking a cut. Meanwhile, middle-aged workers may be more likely to make compromises to gain more control over their personal lives.
How Stressed Are Workers?
This year has seen a general increase in stress levels across all generations. Compared to 36% of everyone surveyed last year who reported at least some workplace stress, this year saw that increase to 41%. Only 10% of participants in the survey said that their workplace didn’t stress them or affect their personal life, compared to 13% last year.
Younger generations appeared to be more stressed, with almost 20% of Zoomers saying work stressed them a lot. This compared to 14% of Millennials, 13% of Gen Xers and just 9% of Baby Boomers. Once again, the disparity can be explained by the fact that many Zoomers are new to the workplace and are finding their feet, while older workers are more established.
Working Habits Across the Generations
When asked whether they worked full-time, part-time, freelance or project-based, just over half (53%) of the participants said they worked full-time. At 22% each, part-time and freelance work were more or less equal. Baby Boomers were most likely to hold a full-time job, while Zoomers were the most likely to work part-time.
Regarding freelancing, gen Xers took the lead with 26%, closely followed by Millennials at 25%. This offers further proof that these age-groups value flexibility over anything else. Meanwhile, project-based work was very uncommon across the board.