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EY: Work-life balance has become more difficult to be managed by one third of full-time employees in 8 large countries

EY's global survey of full-time workers in eight countries finds that one-third say managing work-life has become more difficult, with younger generations and parents hit hardest.

2017-07-12 21:38:27

Karyn Twaronite EY Global Diversity & Inclusiveness Office said: "By 2025, 75 per cent of the global workforce will be comprised of millennials. What does this mean for global companies that need to attract millennials, retain them and help them maximize their performance at work?"

EY team decided to conduct this research study to help specialists and the broader marketplace better understand the complexities facing today's workers with an eye to helping senior leaders develop a cross-cultural perspective on managing across generations.

"By asking questions about management, work-life balance, career growth, financial opportunity, parenting and more, we've been able to develop insights into what motivates millennials to excel in what continues to be a challenging economic environment for many. We wanted to understand what impacts this generation — and the broader workforce — from the "outside in." We learned that millennials are highly committed to their careers. Many of them are moving into management at the same time they are becoming parents. Their work hours have increased over the last five years, they are twice as likely to travel overnight for business as other generations and they are more likely to be part of a dual-career family than their boomer counterparts. They want to work flexibly without stigmas and are willing to make tough choices and sacrifices to better manage work and home. That's why we're calling them "Generation Go" — companies need to keep pace with them or risk losing out on their talent. Global generations: a global study on work-life challenges across generations helps us see what full-time employed men and women in eight countries — US, Germany, Japan, China, Mexico, Brazil, India and the UK — see as their opportunity for success so we can understand what employers need to do to help them succeed. Global generations has already spurred debate about the opportunities to turn the energy and commitment of millennials into a competitive advantage. And as we all work to define what "modernizing" our workplace means for our respective businesses, we hope this will help you prioritize the actions you take," the specialist added.

The research shows that one-third of full-time workers say that managing work-life has become more difficult in the last five years. Younger generations and parents are harder hit than others, plus workers in certain countries we surveyed. Among the key findings, the top reason one-third (33%) of full-time employees globally say it has gotten more difficult to manage work/ family in the last five years is that "my salary has not increased much, but my expenses have" with almost half (49%) citing this as a reason. This was about tied (48%) with "my responsibilities at work have increased." The other top five reasons are: "my responsibilities at home have increased" (39%), "I'm working more hours" (36%) and "I have a child or more children" (23%).

• Full-time employees in Germany (49%) and Japan (44%) are the most likely to indicate that it has gotten tougher to manage work-life, but in the US about one in four (24%) report this, too. China had the fewest number of workers who said this, at 16%.

• Women and parents (35% each) found managing work-life to be slightly more difficult than men (32%) and non-parents (31%). Parents found it more difficult to manage work-life than non-parents in all countries but in particular in Germany (54% parents, 47% non-parents), the UK (42%, 34%), India (39%, 26%), and the US (29%, 22%). These countries were followed closely by Japan, Brazil and Mexico, which all saw a 5% difference between parents and non-parents. Interestingly, 35% to 56% of full-time working parents who are managers in these countries said the number of hours they work has increased in the last five years.

• In all countries, millennials (35%) and Gen X (34%) find it slightly more difficult to manage work and family/personal responsibilities than boomers (30%). This is true in the US as well (26% each for Gen Y and Gen X and 23% for boomers). More than half of German millennials (56%) said that managing work and family has gotten more difficult — the most of any generation in the countries surveyed.

Managing work–life has gotten harder

• Illustrating the tension of dual priorities for younger generations, about half of millennials (47%) and Gen X (51%) cited increased responsibilities at work as a leading cause, coupled with more than two in five citing increased responsibilities at home (millennials 44% and Gen Xers 41% versus 29% of boomers).

• Three in five managers (59%) also identified their increasing responsibilities at work compared with only one-third (33%) of non-managers.

• In a US-only question, the top three challenges managers overall face are getting enough sleep (59%), handling more responsibility and "finding time for me" (tied at 57%). The next three biggest challenges are "finding time for family and friends" and "managing personal and professional life" (53% each) and "additional hours worked" (51%).

• Demonstrating a corporate disconnect with employee interest in working flexibly, for a US-only question, the EY research found that in the US nearly one in ten (9%) overall says they have "suffered a negative consequence as a result of having a flexible work schedule" and the rate is even higher for millennials, or nearly one in six (15%). Negative consequences include losing a job, being denied a promotion or raise, being assigned to less interesting or high-profile assignments or being publicly or privately reprimanded.

More millennials are moving into management

Close to two-thirds (65%) of Gen X full-time employees manage the work of others, followed closely by millennials (62%). Coming in a distant third, less than half (46%) of boomers say they manage the work of others. This shift has taken place in the last five years, or 2009–2014 — 85% of millennial managers say they moved into management during this time.

• China has the largest percentage of millennial managers who moved into management (90%) in the last five years and the US the least (76%).

• The US has more of an even split among the different generations as managers than other countries (39% millennials, 37% Gen X and 35% boomers). Also, US managers have more years of experience. Over twice as many US managers (46%) have been managing for over 10 years than managers in other countries (21% on average).

• Globally, the most common age for millennial managers to say they started managing is 25–29. This is the most common age in the US (47%), too.

• Globally, about the same percentage of men and women (53% and 55%, respectively) started managing under age 30. • Nearly three quarters of parents manage the work of others, globally, compared with less than half of non-parents (73% and 47%, respectively). US parents (62%) are also more likely to start managing under age 30 than those in other countries surveyed (51% global average).

• Interestingly, the most common age for full-time employees to have/adopt a child in the US is 25–29 (27%) so US millennials are likely taking on more responsibility — as both parents and managers — at the same time.

• A majority of millennials (53%) in the US believe the early 30s (30–34) is the most desirable age to have a child, with the next age being (25–29).

The economy played a substantial role in the challenges full-time workers globally face and impacted their lives in various ways in the last five years

• About a third (31%) of employees globally changed jobs due to the economy. Millennials were more likely to do this than other generations (37% Gen Y, 31% Gen X, 24% boomers).

• More than one in five (22%) full-time employees encouraged their spouse or partner to return to the workforce and a quarter (25%) encouraged their spouse/partner "not to quit their job or reduce hours to better manage work and family."

• Demonstrating the challenges of the economy for parents, close to a quarter (23%) of full-time workers decided not to have additional children and more than one in five (21%) delayed timing of having additional children.
• Marriages were also impacted. The economy sparked nearly one in six (15%) full-time workers to get divorced or separated and almost a sixth (13%) to delay getting a divorce.

• The economy also had a sizable impact on higher education over the past five years. Nearly a quarter (24%) of full-time employees globally were motivated to go back to pursue higher education as a result of the economy. However, global full-time workers were twice as likely to pursue higher education (24%) than US workers (12%).

• Conversely, about one in five full-time workers was forced to discontinue (19%) or delay (22%) higher education or said their ability to help pay for higher education for their children was reduced (22%).

Top reasons full-time workers quit

For companies looking to retain employees as the economy improves — and as more millennials move into management and become parents — our research looked at the leading reasons full-time workers quit. The top five reasons were: minimal wage growth (76%), lack of opportunity to advance (74%), excessive overtime hours (71%), a work environment that does not encourage teamwork (71%) and a boss who doesn't allow you to work flexibly (69%).

• Other leading factors in the top 10 included a "flexibility stigma" or perception that people who work flex hours or take leave are penalized with a lack of pay and promotion opportunities (67%). This was followed by a lack of workplace flexibility, including the option to telecommute (65%), and too much overnight travel (62%).

• Rounding out the top 10 were "limited access to mentors and sponsors (57%) and "few senior colleagues who are working parents or in dual-career families" (52%).

• Millennials are more likely to identify each factor as having slightly more importance than other generations to seriously consider leaving a job, possibly indicating a higher willingness to leave in less-than-ideal situations. The largest gaps between millennials and other generations involve flexibility issues, in particular the perception of a "flexibility stigma" (72%, 67% and 59% respectively for Gen Y, Gen X and boomers).

• Parents are more likely to mention a lack of opportunity to advance (78%) as a reason that they would quit than non-parents (70%), demonstrating continued career ambition after having children.
• While they are still ambitious after having children, flexibility issues are considerably more important to parents than non-parents as a factor in quitting. Perhaps seeking work-life role models, the biggest gap is tied to seeing "few senior colleagues who are working parents or in dual-career families" (60% for parents, 43% for non-parents). This is followed by a lack of workplace flexibility including no option to telecommute (70% versus 59%), a "flexibility stigma" in the workplace (72% versus 62%) and a boss that doesn't allow you to work flexibly (72% versus 65%).

• While the top three reasons to quit — minimal wage growth, lack of opportunity to advance, and excessive overtime hours — were cited by the majority of full-time workers globally, there are some variations by country. In the US the top reason to quit is minimal wage growth (78%). In Germany, the primary factor is excessive overtime hours (75%), perhaps due to its number two ranking for an increase in hours by full-time workers who are managers. In Mexico, lack of opportunity to advance (84%) was the main reason to move on. These were the top reasons millennials quit in these countries as well.

What do workers around the world want in a job

When seeking a job, after competitive pay and benefits, flexibility issues and "not working excessive overtime" were the most important to full-time employees.

• Among the top five reasons that employees say are extremely/ very important, there was a tie (74%) between "being able to work flexibly and still be on track for promotion" and "working with colleagues, including my boss, who support my efforts to work flexibly to meet both my professional and personal goals." Other flex perks full-time employees seek are: the ability to work flexibly informally when needed (71%), receiving paid parental leave (69%) and not working excessive overtime (67%).

• Millennials, globally, are more likely to say it is important to receive paid parental leave (74%, 71% and 58% for Gen Y, Gen X and boomers, respectively), onsite or subsidized child care (62%, 57%, and 47%) and telecommuting one to two days a week (50%, 48% and 38%).

• One surprising finding is that two-thirds (64%) of full-time employees picked "being able to relocate to another company office to be closer to family." This ranked above "ability to reduce overnight business travel" and "onsite or subsidized childcare" (tied at 56%), "ability to shut off emails/calls when needed" (55%) and telecommuting either one to two days a week or three to five days a week (46% and 42%, respectively).

• About half of US millennials (46%) would prefer being able to relocate to a company office closer to family, but millennials outside the US would prefer this even more (64%).

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