Work/life balance

In my last column I shared information about Gen Y’s plea for work/life balance. This desire is part of a bigger picture of the Gen Y population.

But before we get back to the issue of work/life balance, let me share a handful of statistics one of my colleagues stumbled upon at TheMintGrad.Org. TheMintGrad, founded by Northwestern Mutual, is committed to guiding Millennials to be money smart and financially fit. You can view more statistics at Here are a few to continue to strengthen your understanding of this Gen Y/Millennial population.

  • Nearly 2/3 of Gen Y hold bachelor degrees (Millennial Branding/PayScale).
  • 75 percent see themselves as authentic and are not willing to compromise their family and personal values (Bentley University’s Center For Women and Business).
  • 84 percent say making a positive difference in the world is more important than professional recognition (Bentley University’s Center For Women and Business).
  • 92 percent think success should be about more than profit (Deloitte).
  • 81 percent have donated money, goods or services (Walden University and Harris Interactive).
  • Over 70 percent of Millennials feel technology creates more opportunities for all (Telefonica).
  • Only 30 percent consider their current job a career, as compared to more than half of Gen X (Pew Research).
  • More than half want to start their own business or have already done so (Kauffman Foundation).
  • 56 percent of Milennials wouldn’t work for a company that bans social media (Milennial Branding/PayScale).
  • 50 percent of Millennials say they travel for leisure, compared to just 30 percent in prior generations (PGAV Destinations Study 2011).

Note: TheMintGrad uses “Millennials” interchangeably with “Gen Y.” In some situations, “Millennial” refers to the next generation.

Some of the things we see in this generation trip us up. “Us” meaning the Baby Boomers and, perhaps, some of the Gen Xers. Nan Stone sums some things up well:

“Perhaps it is time to rethink the logic that equates long hours with superior performance and workaholism with commitment.”

— Nan Stone, Mother’s Work, Harvard Business Review

In my last column, I asked Gen Y respondents to share what work/life balance would look like for them. I also asked them to “share three to five ways in which your current employer provides work/life balance. Enter n/a if there are none.” Of the 63 responses 41 included the word ‘flexible’ in their examples. Seven responses were n/a. I was impressed by what some of the employers in the Milwaukee area are doing to support this issue. Take a look:

  • “Our company rewards us with certificates for an hour off if we do something exceptional.”
  • “There is always give and take when it comes to the work/life paradox, and it is not one size fits all. Different situations merit different responses.”
  • “Easy to request off work with short notice. Supportive of family and personal issues.”
  • “We have summer hours, allowing us to leave anytime after 3 p.m. between Memorial Day and Labor Day.”
  • “An emphasis on leading a healthy lifestyle, having fun in the workplace WITH an expectation to work hard.”
  • “Understanding that my family is my first priority (i.e. my little sister is leaving for college this weekend and I have been able to be off Friday afternoon through Monday to help her prepare and then make the trip up to Minnesota with her).”
  • “There is a culture here that working very long days is not supported. While it is understood that there are times where this is necessary, it should not be a regular trend that more than 10 hours per day are worked.”
  • “Gives time for taking care of family and limits time spent in the office.”
  • “My employer is wonderful at this; they care about their employees.”
  • “Start and end time is flexible (within reason).”
  • “If we need to take care of something, we are able to do so as long as our work is getting completed and the quality of work does not go down.”
  • “Lenient about using phones and social media.”
  • “Both of my bosses go above and beyond to take care of their employees. They provide the means for us to have days off, leave early. It is not uncommon for them to slip us some cash and say, ‘Take your family out for a nice dinner and bring me back the receipt.’ All of this is done because they know we work hard during the day and they know we put in hours during our free time. Our efforts never go unnoticed.”
  • “Very supportive of life’s events (children, moving, sickness, family emergencies, priority situations.)”

What two or three ideas did you glean from the list? Put them into practice, and remember….the little things are the big things.

Aleta Norris, along with Nancy Lewis, is a co-founding partner of Brookfield-based Impact Consulting Group LLC and Living As A Leader, a leadership training, coaching and consulting firm. You may send Aleta your ‘Leading Generation Y’ question to Also, visit

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