EDITORIAL: Younger workers may save us all

Millennials' notion of work-life balance may help prevent burnout

The debate surrounding how best to accommodate the new generations of workers is an ever-changing landscape.

But with many baby boomers gearing up to leave the workplace – whether they can afford to or not – company owners and managers are getting worried about who will fill those employees’ shoes.

Millennials may be the target of derision from older workers and bosses, who have a hard time understanding younger employees’ expectation of a greater work-life balance. But some of their ideas and their calls for more accommodation in the workplace are being taken seriously.

Some companies in Sweden, for example, are experimenting with a six-hour work day. It’s a far cry from the 10- to 12-hour day that seems to have become common in North America.

Many researchers, including Royal Roads professor Carolin Rekar Munro, interviewed for a story in today’s Gazette, have found these shorter workdays actually boost productivity. While this strategy may seem counter-intuitive, research shows that productivity and output are higher when workers are happy.

With a shorter workday, employees can achieve better balance in their lives and have more room for family time, physical activities and themselves. All of this plays into a healthier lifestyle and a happier home life, which means fewer sick days and less drain on associated health-care services. Workers are less likely to hit the wall during the day, a time when productivity diminishes to near zero.

Another way millennials are starting to influence the employer/employee dynamic is in their demand to be heard and have their health valued.

As Munro states, “that doesn’t just mean telling people to eat an apple a day.”

It’s hard to argue with some of the research that’s coming forward to support this type of shift. Despite that evidence, such changes will not come easily, especially in industries motivated by quick profits or when demand dictates production at an unsustainable level.

That said, it’s worth starting to take a look at alternative forms of staffing that make the most of this valuable human resource.

 

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