For an increasing number of people, salary is no longer the most important factor when looking for a job. More so than any generation, workers from Generation Y value greater flexibility, a better work-life balance and tangible personal development when considering a new role. And that's not instead of a decent salary and holidays, it's on top.
It's not a purely selfish pursuit either. For the majority of jobs, clocking in and out at particular times isn't as important as it once was. Many people are finding they can be more effective if they manage their work around the rest of their lives.
And it makes good sense. After all, people will do a much better job if they're rested and prepared when they arrive at work, instead of rushing to break the land speed record after a hectic school run or morning errand.
But this isn't just limited to start and end times or flexible working. We spend a big chunk of our waking hours at work and the world doesn't wait for us while we're there. Anything an employer can do to help us focus on work when we're supposed to and accommodate the rest of our busy lives is bound to be appealing.
In most cases a little bit of help can go a long way. A small amount of thinking about work-life balance from employers can make a big impact on motivation levels, productivity and our desire to be at work.
Employers are catching on
Thankfully, employers are starting to take notice. Many are becoming aware that to get the most out of their staff it's not as simple as trading time for money. Salary is only a part of the story.
More than ever, workers are looking at the whole package available to them and are placing a higher value on the benefits on offer. As a result, employers are getting better at offering benefits that appeal not only to their staff, but also the people they want to hire.
A whole range of benefits that aren't direct financial incentives are becoming increasingly common, and here are a few we're starting to see on offer:
- Health and fitness
Common approaches include gym membership or access to the cycle to work scheme. Some employers also offer free health check-ups, optician appointments and access to diet and nutrition consultants.
- Everyday living
It's often day-to-day activities that can be the most time consuming and stressful. Most employers have been offering childcare vouchers and support for a while now but we're starting to see support offered to those who care for elderly relatives too through Eldercare programs. Support with practical tasks like will writing or access to financial advisors is also becoming more common.
Subscriptions to trade journals or memberships to a professional institution are often offered as a means of helping with an employee's personal development. Some companies even offer a personal training budget where employees can spend their budget on any training they'd like (usually within some limits!).
Work-life balance is about more than the number of hours you spend in the office or the number of hours you spend outside. Look out for employers who actively try to support staff through the company benefits they offer. A little bit of flexibility or support can make a bigger difference than you'd think.