Gen Y Point of View on Longer Standard Workdays
19th Apr 2012 Posted in: YAYA Wire 0

By Sarah Frueh

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg’s recent comments that she leaves work at 5:30 p.m. to spend time with her family. With lengthier work days becoming the norm for today’s workforce, especially in the tech industry, many have criticized Sandberg for not working the 10-12 hour days associated with her high-powered COO position.

According to a Time article, these longer hours have started to become standard in part because of technological advancements and the rise of the Internet coupled with a struggling economy. Many have taken the fact that we

can now be reached at all times via smartphones and email as a reason to keep working well past 5 p.m., which used to be the standard end of the workday. Others feel the need to stay late in order to stand out in the wake of recent cutbacks.

I’m not sure why some people feel the need to criticize a mother for leaving at the end of the workday to spend time with her children, especially when she says she usually continues to work from home at night. However, I can almost guarantee that the critics are not Millennials. Why am I so sure of this, you might ask? Here’s why:

  1. Flexible work hours and a healthy work-life balance are very important to Millennials: according to a Wall Street Journal article, more than 60 percent of the YAYA Generation surveyed said flexible work hours were important to them. A few other articles have theorized that Gen Y members feel this way because they watched their Baby Boomer parents obsess over work for most of their young lives.
  2.  So far, Millennials are attentive parents with strong family values: according to an article on millennialmarketing.com, Gen-Y is likely to put their kids ahead of their careers. However, since many Millennials and their spouses both have jobs, they must have options that allow them to be a part of their children’s and spouse’s lives.
  3. They are open to nontraditional behaviors related to marriage and parenting: according to the Pew Research report, “Millennials: Confident. Connected. Open to Change,” Millennials are used to the idea of both parents in a family having jobs. Because of the dual-income household norm, Millennial parents must make use of solutions like daycare, flexible work hours and the option to work from home.

Additionally, Pete Cashmore, founder and CEO of Mashable and, as luck would have it, a Millennial, wrote this article in support of Sandberg’s healthy work-life balance. I, for one, am glad to have notables like Sandberg and Cashmore out there defending my right to a personal life as I enter the workforce.

So, the key takeaway here for companies who employ or are looking to hire members of the YAYA demographic is to keep all of the above things in mind. We, Millennials, can bring a lot to the table. We are hardworking, tech savvy, enthusiastic and hungry to learn. We will work incredibly hard to get places in life, but when it comes to when and where we do our work, we like to have a say in the matter. Most Millennials are also willing to use their technology to continue working from home in the evenings as Sandberg does.

Companies employ Gen Y members, what are your thoughts on this subject? Millennials, how much importance do you place on schedule flexibility in pursuing jobs? Please share your ideas below!

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