Study: Work-Life Balance Matters to Millennials Because They’re Not Thriving

Study: Work-Life Balance Matters to Millennials Because They’re Not Thriving

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey of employees in the US finds that 57 percent of millennials (defined as those born between 1980 and 1996) consider work-life balance and wellbeing very important to them when it comes to choosing a job. We’ve heard this before, and millennials aren’t unique in valuing work-life balance. More interesting is the survey’s finding that by most standards of wellbeing, millennials aren’t doing very well. The survey tracks wellbeing in terms of five elements—purpose, social, financial, community, and physical—and rates individuals as “thriving,” “struggling,” or “suffering” in each element. As it turns out, millennials are only thriving in one of these five areas:

On the bright side, Gallup and Healthways research shows that millennials are more likely than those of other generations to be thriving in physical well-being and are improving in key areas of health. But it also shows that employees who are thriving in all five elements of well-being are 81% less likely than those thriving only in physical well-being to seek out a new employer in the next year. This finding is particularly compelling, considering that millennials are the most likely generation to job-hop.

Unfortunately, Gallup and Healthways have found that millennials (born between 1980 and 1996) are the generation least likely to be thriving in all five elements of well-being. A mere 5% of working millennials are thriving across all five elements, and less than 40% of working millennials are thriving in any one element of well-being. Across all generations, just 7% are thriving in all five elements.

I wonder to what extent working millennials would prioritize these forms of wellness or wellbeing over other aspects of their employee value proposition. Our recruiting research at CEB finds that millennials are attracted to the same top two EVP attributes as other generations: compensation and work-life balance. However, they’re also more likely than their elders to value attributes connected to career and personal development.

For example, millennials are 11 percent more likely to identify future career opportunity and 6 percent more likely to identify development opportunity as job priorities than other generations. On the other hand, they were just as likely to select work-life balance as other generations. While work-life balance is the second most important EVP attribute for most people, the value of future career opportunities is particularly high for millennial employees. This suggests that at least some millennials are willing to take jobs that don’t match their desire for work-life balance in order to get ahead in their careers.

So the Gallup-Healthways findings raise an interesting hypothetical: If a job promised to advance employees’ well-being along several, or all five, of the metrics the survey measures, but offered less opportunity for career advancement, would the typical millennial take that job?

(CEB Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Council and Recruiting Leadership Council members can learn more here about how to target your recruiting efforts at millennials.)