Every generation looks at its parents and thinks, “I can do better!” or “I like some of that, but not everything.” Think about your lifestyle, or the way you parent, and compare it to what you experienced growing up. There are obvious differences, right?
A similar scenario has played out in the workplace over the past five decades as Baby Boomers have given rise to Gen Xers who have given rise to Millennials. Successful Boomers were married to their work and driven by achievement. To combat their own workaholism, Boomers coined the term “Work-life balance,” a phrase that simply meant to leave work at work and spend more time engaged with family, friends, and personal health at home.
Millennials came along, after being raised by these work-life-balance people, and said, “No thanks. We want work-life integration.” Work-life integration means that there is no clear-cut divide between work and home. Instead, both work and life are intertwined in a way that allows a person to live the lifestyle they want to live without sacrifice achievement or success.
- Work-life balance means work happens at work. Life happens at home.
- Work-life integration means that work happens when it needs to happen wherever the employee might be.
- Work-life balance means taking PTO for family vacation.
- Work-life integration means showing up for conference calls from a hotel at Disney.
Natural Evolution of the Workplace
The best way to approach this conversation is to think about it as the natural evolution of the workplace. The concept of balance was a reaction to the cultural context that Boomers had themselves created. In order for employees to survive, keeping their families intact while succeeding in their career, they needed to figure out how to slow down. Integration was a response to the human desire for fulfillment. Millennials realized there was nothing wrong with achievement, and nothing wrong with doing great work. But they could perform at a high level, just like their Boomer parents, while simultaneously finding personal fulfillment and living the kind of lifestyle they want to live.
And now, 43% of American workers say they spend at least some time working remotely. So, it is not just a Millennial issue. The shift from balance to integration has already happened and it is desirable to people across generations.
Where to Start
You’re probably asking, “Which one is better? Balance or integration?”
We think the right question to ask is, “Can we better accomplish our mission by evolving into a workplace that is more welcoming to employees that value work-life integration?”
We might be biased, but we believe you should start thinking about your answer to that question. In the meantime, here three reasons why evolving your organization can help improve your non-profit or association:
- You open up your organization to quality, remote workers, people who are seeking to integrate work and life. This lowers your overhead (no more ridiculously expensive office equipment!) and frees up resources to be used in more mission-centric areas.
- Your organization becomes more appealing to this new kind of worker, someone who sees work as a means to personal fulfillment.
- Your workplace becomes an environment in which people are trusted to get their work done, in the way that works best for them, for the benefit of your non-profit or association.
And if you aren’t sure how to begin shifting your mindset from a balanced approach to a more integrated approach, here are some questions to yourself and your leadership team:
- Are we encouraging our employees, at whatever life-stage they’re in, to live their ideal lives?
- Do we have a healthy grasp of what our employees want out of life?
- Is our workplace culture one that encourages healthy habits, wellness, and other tools to help people find personal fulfillment and wholeness?
- How’s our technology? Do we have the right tools in place to allow employees to live a more integrated life?
“Balance vs. Integration” is not just semantics. Balance was useful in its context and, as the workplace evolves, work-life integration is the direction you should explore. Achurch Consulting would be happy to help you start the journey!