Millennials want more flexibility in workplace schedule, survey says

Millennials highly value flexible work arrangements, as well as paid parental leave, survey finds

Some days Jay Greenlinger bounces from his children's plays and baseball games to work and back again.

The 34-year-old has four young children and serves as the director of technology at the Pleasant Valley School District in Camarillo. Greenlinger's flexible schedule, aided by his largely electronic workload, is an example of what millennials now crave in the workplace.

"It shouldn't be an either-or proposition," he said. "I think the millennials' ideas of how and where work gets done is very different than previous generations."

According to a recent survey by accounting firm Ernst & Young, millennials highly value flexible work arrangements, as well as paid parental leave.

Millennials are the most likely generation to say that they would change jobs or careers, give up promotion opportunities, move their family to another place or take a pay cut to have flexibility and better manage work and family life, according to the survey.

"If the senior management or companies decide not to embrace that, you're going to lose talent," said Monica Marquez, Ernst & Young's West region inclusiveness and flexibility lead.

This comes as millennials see an increase in responsibilities at work and at home. According to Ernst & Young's research, workers commonly become both managers and parents between the ages of 25 and 29.

But with more flexibility comes the stigma of the lazy worker.

Nearly 1 in 6 millennial workers said they "suffered a negative consequence as a result of having a flexible work schedule."

"Generation X and boomers have this kind of misconception ... that these people that want flexibility might be less committed to their work, less committed to their career progression," Marquez said. "For the millennials, they're saying we want this flexibility, but we aren't any less aggressive about our career."

For some, the commonly used term "work-life balance" is a myth.

"I think it was a term that previous generations believed in," said Michael Elliott, 28, principal at Dittrick and Associates Inc. in Burton, Ohio. "I know for me and most of the millennials I talk to, work-life balance is nonexistent. There’s only work-life integration.”

As part of his doctoral research, Greenlinger studied the support needs of millennials compared to baby boomers and found similar results as those in the survey.

He used the hypothetical example of millennials leaving work early to take their children to soccer practice.

"While they’re sitting there, they’re on their phone completing work tasks," Greenlinger said. "It was more of a balance of when work gets done."

The survey was conducted by market research firm Harris Poll for Ernst & Young. About 9,700 people between the ages of 18 and 67 were surveyed between November and January across the globe.

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