Traditional workplace culture is changing — rapidly. Gone are the days when new employees feel they have to climb the corporate ladder as rapidly as possible, putting in punishing hours in order to do so. Today's employees are more likely to be demanding a healthy work/life balance. Forward-thinking companies are well aware of this and have changed, or are changing, their corporate structure accordingly.
Generation X employees may be the children of 'baby boomer' moms who bought into the 'superwoman' ideal prevalent in the 70s. These women were programmed to feel they needed to put in 70-hour weeks at the office while simultaneously raising their children, whipping up gourmet meals, enjoying an active social life and maintaining a household. The message passed to the next generation was that work was more important than family, a message that understandably may have caused a strong reaction, leading today's generation to seek more flexible working conditions. 'Latchkey kids' themselves, they want a different scenario for their own children if they have them; even if they don't, they still want time to enjoy life outside of work.
There was considerable social media buzz recently about a video where Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg (Forbes 5th most powerful woman) admits to leaving work at 5:30 every day so that she can eat dinner with her children. Apparently we are still shocked that someone in her position would admit to leaving the office — at the designated close of business — to spend quality time with her family. In fact, she herself states that it is only in the last year or so that she has been comfortable admitting this. She also remains in touch via email late at night and early in the morning; nevertheless, she has made a decision to be present with her family every evening because she feels that is very important. In fact, she suggests that this should be the norm for any employee, regardless of gender or family obligations.
Many employees in their 30s are still carrying student loans while simultaneously taking on larger mortgages, car loans and after-school care/daycare fees. They are certainly not looking to opt out of the rat race and start an alpaca farm — what they do seem to want is to work smarter rather than longer, without being perceived as shirkers. Flexi-time is only the beginning; this generation wants to be able to telecommute, at least part of the time; working from home has gained huge popularity in the last decade or so. The advent of widespread wireless Internet availability and smartphones has enabled office personnel to work from almost anywhere and still remain in constant touch with other team members.
Forward-thinking employers will provide their employees with the flexibility they desire and foster a workplace culture that encourages professional development and movement within the corporate structure while actively discouraging long hours spent in the physical workplace itself. Working remotely reduces stress and pollution from long commutes as well as allowing employees more time to enjoy life outside of work. Taking off early on a summer afternoon to head for the beach or the golf course and finishing that project later in the evening can do wonders for one's stress levels, resulting in happier, healthier workers — wise employers are beginning to recognize this. Shift iQ's Learning Management System is completely mobile compatible, allowing workers to access professional development anywhere, anytime.