New research has revealed the nuances in attitudes towards hybrid working and work-life balance in the UK and US. Notably, their appeal can be affected by the life stage of employees.
It found that work-life balance is the factor most valued by employees at work (58%), but is much more appealing to women than men (66% vs. 52%). Flexibility came in second place, chosen by 47%.
The desire for work-life balance also increases as workers get older – it was selected by 65%of those aged 45-54 and 70% of 55-64-year-olds, compared to 54% of employees aged 25-34 and only 41% of 18-24s.
In a time of rising inflation and economic uncertainty, security was the third-highest ranked factor people value at work (40%), and came in ahead of career development, fulfilment, and recognition. Among younger workers aged 18-24, security actually ranked as the number one consideration, with 47% of this segment citing it as most important.
The study, WorkRemastered, surveyed more than 1,000 office-based workers across theUK and the US and was carried out by culture change consultants United Culture.
Victoria Lewis-Stephens, MD of UnitedCulture, comments: “Developing an employee experience that is fit for the future has never been more important than ever before. Attracting and retaining talent will rely on businesses building flexible offers and modern working practices.
“Work-life balance tends to be a greater concern among those who are already established and/or with families, whereas younger people nearer the start of their careers look for stability and the opportunity to develop.”
The research also highlighted that hybrid working, often seen as key to greater work-life balance, is not always perceived as positively by employees as might be expected.
Only half of employees (50%) say hybrid working has had a positive impact on company culture. Around one in six (15%) actually say it has negatively impacted company culture, while 8% say it’s both good and bad.
While millennials(aged 35-44) were most likely to see hybrid working as positive (60%), younger Gen Z workers aged 18-24 were most likely to see it as negative (20% said so),followed by 25-34s (18%).
Men were far more likely to view hybrid working as a positive (58%, vs 41% of women), and in theUS it is generally viewed more positively than in the UK (68%, vs 33% in theUK).
Victoria Lewis-Stephens adds: “We assume hybrid working would be viewed in a uniformly positive way if work-life balance is the number one factor people value most at work. But those still developing their careers often want ‘face time’ with managers and an opportunity to shadow.
“Managing the new hybrid workforce is perhaps the hardest challenge currently facing those in HR and comms who are concerned about company culture. It would be nice to say that there’s a ‘silver bullet’ that fixes everything, but it’s actually a vastly different and highly nuanced issue for every organisation.”
You can download the full Work Remastered report here.