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Should career decisions be based on work life balance?




Recently, I was talking with a millenial who was in the middle of a job search. She thought it would be fun to work at a BMW dealership and learn all the features of the luxury cars. She imagined herself test driving the new models and playing with the gadgets inside. But when the manager of the dealership told her she would have to work many nights and weekends, she changed her mind about the job. "There is no way I'm giving up my weekends," she told me. 

My young nephew, who has been in the workforce about six months, recently told me he is not happy in his job. "I didn't expect to have to work Saturdays," he said. "I don't think I'm going to be in this job for long.

Research repeatedly has shown that millennials want work life balance. It's a huge factor in their job satisfaction. According to the 2016 Millennial Survey by Deloitte, 16.8 percent of Millennials evaluate career opportunities by good work-life balance, followed by 13.4 percent who look for opportunities to progress and 11 percent who seek flexibility (i.e., remote working and flexible hours). Millennials want the flexibility to prioritize whatever (work or life) is most important that day.

While that makes some Gen Xers and Boomers frustrated, it's a sign of the times and it's not going to change.

Still, when you think about it, isn't work life balance a concern for all of us? Workers around the globe have been finding it harder to juggle the demands of work and the rest of life in the past five years. According to the 2016 LinkedIn Censuswide Study, nearly half of American workers would give up the corner-office job and a high salary to gain more flexibility in their schedules.

Most older workers realize the more responsibility we take on as we move up the chain of command, the more we must sacrifice our work life balance. That's why the higher positions often come with higher stakes and higher pay. Sometimes though, there's a point when the pay and the job title aren't worth the lack of balance.

I have watched many people burn out and get to that point. When we no longer want to sacrifice work life balance, we have to make some tough career decisions. Now with the job market improving, I'm seeing more people make those decisions in favor of better work life balance. I'm seeing people give up promotions, change departments, change careers, and fire clients in an effort to reclaim their sanity and readjust the demands on their time. Should they make career decisions based on work life balance? If it's a priority, they should.

Today on my CindyKeepsUp blog, I wrote about how best selling author Kristin Hannah has made difficult career decisions and got them right. If we follow her lessons, we have a better chance of getting our difficult career decisions right, too.

For most employees, frustration lies with bosses who don't understand their needs:

-Millennials don't get bosses who don't realize technology frees them to work productively from anywhere.

-Gen Xers don't get why using a flexible schedule would still come with negative consequences.

-Boomers don't get co-workers who don't realize an older worker deserves a schedule that allows them to scale back but still add value to an employer.

Search the job ads and there is a LOT of language in them that advertises work life balance. Increasingly, American workers don't believe they have to choose between financial/career success or having a fulfilling personal life. Some smart employers understand that way of thinking, while others aren't responding as quickly as they need to keep their talent from leaving.

When faced with tough work life choices, it's best to think long term. It might be that your industry or role doesn't lend itself to the work life you now seek, and you have to focus on a bigger career change, not just change companies. It might be that you need to explore changing your role at your existing organization. Or it could be that you're ready to retire early, start your own business or search for a new job.

Career decisions based on work life needs are becoming increasingly common. If only more employers recognized the trend!