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For millennials, work-life balance trumps salary

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As more millennials enter the workplace, the business environment continues to evolve. Not only do these individuals have different views on what it takes to be successful in the modern business environment, they also have a different outlook on what is important when choosing a job.

One of the more popular debates amongst these individuals is the importance of salary vs a work-life balance.

Lyndy van den Barselaar, MD of Manpower South Africa, explains that the ability to balance work and life is increasingly important to new jobseekers entering the working world.

“This is often the top priority for new job seekers looking to find placement through our agency.” Research supports this, with the Prosumer Report on Millennials: The Challenger Generation finding that 37% of respondents worldwide cited the ability to balance work and life as the single most important factor when choosing a job, while just 28% cited salary and 23% said work atmosphere.

“I believe this ties in with the importance of job satisfaction,” says van den Barselaar. “An employee who is happy and secure in their job is more likely to go the extra mile to complete tasks in a timeous and satisfactory manner, and remain productive and creative in their approach. A positive work life balance can also assist in lowering stress and anxiety levels, which can have a negative impact on productivity and job satisfaction when too high.”

In addition, the importance placed on work life balance reflects the evolving state of the workplace. “As the new generation of job seekers enters the workplace, they will bring about changes in the ways in which businesses operate. It is important to learn from them and adapt to them where sustainable, as they are the future of each and every industry,” says van den Barselaar.

She provides the following tips to millenials and their potential employers, for achieving work life balance:

* Plan and prioritise – “This is a largely important factor in achieving a work life balance, from both an employee and employer perspective. Employers should assist employees in identifying which tasks need to be prioritised. Employees can then plan their days, weeks and even months accordingly, and ensure they remain on track. This will ensure they are able to take full advantage of free time, without having to worry about work or work overtime.”

* Unplug from technology – “In the modern business environment, many people have an ‘always on’ approach to work. We have their emails set up on tablets and smartphones, and have laptops and Wi-Fi access at home. It is important to truly switch off at times. This is important in the evenings, to ensure good quality sleep, and even more so during holidays. Employees should use leave taken to unwind and de-stress. Stress is not only bad for our health but also means we are less productive in our jobs.”

* Embrace flexibility – “Flexibility in the workplace is key in achieving a work life balance. Allowing employees to work flexible hours or to work one or two days a week from home is an emerging trend in the modern business environment. This requires discipline from employees, but can also assist in achieving a positive work life balance. Employers now have access to a number of technologies and tools for tracking the productivity of remote staff, so this does not have to be detrimental to the business.”

* Take time for you – “Schedule some time to do something you enjoy, every day. This doesn’t have to be time consuming or expensive. Perhaps you enjoy taking a 30 minute walk in the morning, or schedule 30 minutes to read your book before bed. Doing something for yourself will assist you in feeling more satisfied in your personal life, and more motivated.”

* Ask for support – “If you are feeling particularly overwhelmed, or are aware that there is a deadline or goal you will not be able to meet, ask for support from your management team and colleagues. Spending hours of overtime in the office over a long period to try and finish the task alone can result in exhaustion and anxiety, which will have a negative effect on your productivity, your state of mind and your health.”

* Do something fulfilling after work – “As much as you may love your career, it is important to remember that as a well-rounded individual, there are other aspects of your life that bring you joy. It may be difficult to tear your brain away from your work environment, but if you have something you love to do after work, this will help you achieve a psychological balance between how much you invest in your job, and how much you invest in yourself.”

“While salary is an important factor for those millennials looking to enter the workplace or find new employment, they are looking to enter into companies that reflect their personalities and values, are innovative, respect the environment and that contribute positively to the communities in which they operate,” concludes van den Barselaar.