by | Jun 23, 2022

Increasingly, job candidates (and employees) seem to want to work somewhere they can have a good life, where they can enjoy work-life balance and a sense of well-being. This seems to be partly due to people gaining new perspective and taking stock of their life priorities during the pandemic. And it also may be that younger generations aren’t willing to put up with the conditions that Boomers and Gen X assumed were just part of the job. Gallup recently found that 61% of employees said “greater work-life balance and personal well-being” were important to them in their next job. In fact, that came in second in their list of the top six things they’re looking for.

I hope it ain’t like it used to be

I’m old enough to remember working in poorly ventilated offices with heavy smokers, puffing away all day. I remember bosses flipping through Playboy magazine during one-on-one meetings and openly making rude comments about younger female employees. I remember the 60- and 80-hour weeks of my early ad agency days, when the standing joke was, “if you don’t come into the office on Saturday, don’t bother showing up on Sunday.” Work was exciting and rewarding to me during that time, but the office environment definitely made it harder to live a good life, at least in the sense of work-life balance and well-being.

Employees don’t see high performance and a good life as mutually exclusive

At Tribe, we often interview employees in global companies about their jobs, the culture and their role in supporting the vision of leadership. It’s been interesting to hear the tone shift, just in the last year or two, on work-life balance. It seems many companies have found ways to reckon with the factors that contribute to poor work-life balance, and employees are appreciative. There’s a new understanding and acceptance that employees have lives outside work that need their time, attention and energy.

But we aren’t hearing employees say that work-life balance comes at the expense of succeeding in meaningful work. The pandemic gave many companies proof that remote work can be as productive as working in the office. It’s also given managers a view of the family responsibilities that their team members are handling and a new awareness that parents may spend some hours of the traditional work day dealing with kids, and then get work finished up after the kids are in bed.

Working hard is easier when people can choose when and where

Sometimes what employees need to feel they’re living a good life is flexibility, not fewer hours. Many job candidates now consider remote or hybrid work a must-have for positions they’ll consider. Others discovered that the flexibility of being able to start a load of laundry or walk the dog during the workday made life much easier than spending those inevitable short breaks during the workday chatting with co-workers. When management can trust that the work is being done, employees appreciate being able to get it done in their own rhythm. This was a prevailing theme in the workforce long before COVID, however.

Well-being now means more than wellness

Many of Tribe’s clients have expanded the notion of well-being beyond just fitness and physical well-being. We’re seeing more interest in mental health support, as well as communications that help employees find the support they need. Often, mental health programs were already available to employees but they hadn’t needed them before the pandemic. We’re also seeing clients stress financial wellness, the lack of which can of course lead to mental stress. And a few clients are expanding their notion of well-being to psychological safety, an idea which would have been laughed out of the conference room back in the early days of my career.

A good life can also mean doing good

Your employer brand might include other aspects of a good life, beyond work-life balance and well being. Compensation and benefits, for instance, ranked number 1 in Gallup’s list of 6 things referenced above. A good life might also include opportunities to do good in the world, such as mentoring or coaching other employees, supporting DE&I efforts by joining an ERG, or participating in corporate volunteer programs. Your company offers its own unique variety of a good life, and communicating that in the job market can help draw the right job candidates to your open positions. (For more on recruiting with your employer brand, try this Forbes piece.)

The new world is a win-win

We see these trends not as a challenge for large employers but a gift. It’s an opportunity to differentiate the company from other possible employers. Becoming a place where employees can live a good life will help your organization be more competitive in the job market — and can help reduce attrition rates down the road.

Interested in communicating your employer brand? Tribe can help.

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