Feelings About Flexible Schedules

One-third of employees have reported that managing work-life balance has become more difficult. With employees working longer hours, flexible schedules could allow for a less stressful life and a more pleasant work experience.

In a recent study by EY, full-time employees between the ages of 18 and 67 answered a series of questions about work-life challenges. The survey polled about 9,700 workers across companies in the U.S., U.K., India, Japan, China, Germany, Mexico and Brazil. A goal listed for this research is to “understand what employees seek in a job — why they quit, why they stay and how this differs by generation.”

According to the research, work-life balance is becoming harder to achieve in each of the countries studied. Respondents in Germany and Japan reported the most difficulties in managing work/family/personal responsibilities, and China reported the least amount of challenges. Globally, nearly half (46 percent) of polled managers are working more than 40 hours per week. Additionally, 4 in 10 report working more hours compared with five years ago.

An increase in hours could be leading to increased requests for flexible schedules.

Increases in hours make it especially hard when moving into management positions and starting families. When comparing age groups, more younger generation respondents are seeing their hours inflate. Among millennials, 47 percent indicated an increase in hours, while 38 percent of Generation X and 28 percent of baby boomers worked more hours.

On top of working more hours, many millennials (78 percent) have a spouse or partner who is also working full time or longer. Compared with the 47 percent of baby boomers who have a working spouse, millennials could be having a harder time getting household problems solved or making sure children are taken care of. There often aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done, especially if both partners are working full time. Naturally, having longer work days makes for a more difficult work-life balance.

When asked about what’s important in a potential job, respondents listed competitive pay and benefits, then “being able to work flexibly and still be on track for promotion.” These flexible perks include “receiving paid parental leave and not working excessive overtime,” according to EY.

A concern about asking for a flexible schedule is, generally, if there would be repercussions. According to the research by EY, 1 in 10 workers in the U.S. claim to have “suffered a negative consequence as a result of having a flexible work schedule.” That might not sound so bad, but the rate is much higher for the younger generation, with 1 in 6 millennials reporting negative consequences.

More millennials might request a flexible schedule because more of them are working longer hours.

 This EY study also reports reasons for people quitting their jobs, which might make managers’ ears perk up. The top five reasons listed are: “minimal wage growth, lack of opportunity to advance, excessive overtime hours, a work environment that does not encourage teamwork and a boss that doesn’t allow you to work flexibly.”