The Evolving Importance of Work-life Balance in Today’s Job Market

On June 1933, the National Industrial was enacted by the American congress as an urgent measure to address the economic distress brought about by the “Great Depression”, at the behest of President Franklin Roosevelt. This Act aimed to establish limits on the number of working hours, as well as minimum wages and the right to collective bargaining. However in May 1935, the recovery act was nullified and was replaced by the Wagner Act, which guaranteed workers the right to form unions.

As the new millennium began, the strict boundary between work and personal life became less distinct for numerous employees, due to the advent of new technology. For many workers, the traditional dichotomy of work and leisure was blurred as the internet, email, and later on, smartphones became integrated into the workplace. These technological innovations transformed not only the methods used to accomplish work but also the duration and structure of the work schedule.

This brought the emergence of “Hustle Culture” which resulted in some employees placing less importance on work-life balance.  However, the Covid-19 pandemic shifted this perspective, particularly with the introduction of remote and hybrid work setups which brought the integration of personal and work life to employees. Thus, making workers re-evaluate the distinction between the two and strive to achieve work-life balance.

Jobstreet’s Unlocking the Future of Recruitment Study released on March 01, 2023, showed that 34% of 97, 324 respondents from the Philippines, Indonesia, Hong Kong, and Malaysia are actively seeking employment with high salaries. Despite the global uncertainty brought about by the pandemic and inflation, 62% of jobseekers’ are confident in their negotiating position when exploring new opportunities. Furthermore, 71% stated that they prioritize a stable job with a favorable work-life balance above everything else.

In a 2022 survey conducted by Forbes Health, 90% of 1,120 US workers prioritize work-life balance which is the only aspect that rivaled financial stability. 

According to the 2022 Work Trend Index Annual Report by Microsoft, over half of the Millennial and Gen Z employees who resigned from their jobs attributed their departure to either insufficient work-life balance or lack of flexibility. This means that workers are now pushing for work-life balance at the top of their values.

In this regard, employers must be equipped with the knowledge of how to entice, hire, and retain talented workers. 

Despite these changes in employees’ behavior, Peter Bithos, chief executive officer of SEEK Asia (JobStreet’s parent company) stated that “ While hiring growth may slow down during times of uncertainty, there is no doubt that it is still a job seeker’s market right now.”

SEEK Asia suggested ways for employees to cope with the evolving behavior of employees such as improving job postings, establishing a strong foundational culture, and addressing biases among others. Thus, expanding the pool of potential candidates and successfully filling any vacancies that may have otherwise remained open.

Any business won’t stand alone without its talents. Therefore, it is essential for employers to understand the changing behavior of their employees. Understanding how these changes came to be is an essential step in addressing workplace issues.

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