Workers commuting to the office in London.
A study asked people if they agreed with prioritizing work at the expense of free time.Back in 2009, 41% of millennials agreed, exceeding even baby boomers in their zeal for work.Yet 13 years later, they’re the cohort that cares most about work-life balance, beating even Gen Z.
When millennials started their careers they cared even more than baby boomers about working hard, but now they’re the generation most in favor of a healthier work-life balance, according to a new study.
Academics at the policy institute of King’s College London published the latest study from the World Values Survey on Thursday, having questioned over 3,000 British adults.
One of those questions focused on different generations’ attitudes to a work-life balance, asking participants how they felt about the statement: “Work should always come first, even if it means less spare time.”
Back in 2009, 41% of millennials agreed or strongly agreed with that statement. Just 29% of boomers felt the same way, and only those born before 1945 were more likely to agree that work should come first.
Millennials are defined in the study as those born between 1980 and 1995, so many of them would be first starting to make their impact on the workforce around that time.
But since then, things have changed dramatically.
By 2022, just 14% of millennials agreed that work should always come first. That makes them the generation that cares the most about a work-life balance, with Gen X in second place at 16%, and then Gen Z, the youngest cohort, around 19%.
“What comes through in this data is more of a steady drift towards a greater focus on getting work-life balance right, rather than any big change in attitudes, which is not necessarily bad for productivity,” said Professor Bobby Duffy, the director of KCL’s policy institute.
“There will be a number of explanations for these shifts, from the nostalgia that tends to grow as we age, in thinking younger generations are less committed than we were, and the long-term economic and wage stagnation that will lead younger generations to question the value of work.”