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Downturn still takes toll on work/life balance

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in Compensation and Benefits,Human Resources

One-third of full-time workers believe balancing their work and personal lives has become more difficult in the last five years, as a Great Recession legacy of stagnant salaries and longer hours adds pressure at the office and on the home front.

Your youngest employees may be paying the highest price.

A new survey by consulting firm Ernst & Young found dissatisfaction highest among white-collar workers in their 20s and 30s who are establishing families at the same time they are moving into management and other jobs that carry more responsibility.

Making matters worse, according to the survey of workers of all ages, millennial employees said their older bosses don’t appreciate work/life balance challenges because they haven’t faced them to the same degree.

Twenty-six percent of millennials said they are working more after having a child, versus 13% for members of Gen X and 16% for baby boomers who recalled their own experiences. The partners and spouses of millennials are more likely to be working longer hours, too.

The economy played a significant role in the challenges full-time workers face and affected their lives in a variety of ways in the last five years.

For many couples, reliance on two paychecks drove decisions about careers. More than one in five employees encouraged their spouse or partner to return to work after having a child. A quarter said they had discouraged their partners from quitting their jobs or reducing hours, despite the need for better work/life balance.

Approximately 23% of workers decided not to have more children, and one in five delayed having more kids.

Ernst & Young’s research found that about one in 10 workers say they have “suffered a negative consequence as a result of having a flexible work schedule” and the rate is even higher for millennials—about one in six.

The survey found that workers are willing to make job and career changes to better manage work/life integration, and 54% of full-time employees have or would be willing to give up a promotion.

Millennials were more likely than members of other generations to say they would change jobs or careers, pass on a promotion or take a pay cut if it would bring them greater work/life balance.

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