Posted June 1, 2020 by Mark Perna
Productive at work and present at home—is it a pipe dream? Mark’s article, “How To Blend Work And Life—Without Losing Your Mind,” published at Forbes.com on June 1, 2020.
Amid our changing world, many employees are struggling to create a healthy work-life blend—especially Millennials and Gen-Z. According to a new study from MetLife, many younger employees are working longer hours, with a majority worried about their mental and financial health.
Of all generations, Millennial employees are the most stressed (40%), most tired (39%) and most burned out (36%) today. Gen-Z (42%) are the most likely to feel mentally unwell right now, followed closely by Millennials at 36%.
Smartsheet’s recent survey revealed similar trends, with the new work-from-home routine hitting the younger generations the hardest. As employers begin to bring employees back into offices and routines change yet again, employees of all generations will feel new strains in addition to their current challenges.
If you’re among those struggling with a tricky new blend of work and life, while navigating increased financial and mental health pressures, you’re not alone. But what can you do? MetLife’s Meredith Ryan-Reid, Head of Financial Wellness & Engagement, has some advice.
Twenty-five percent of Millennial employees are working extended hours because of the pandemic—more than any other generation. It’s little wonder they’re feeling the pressure most keenly. “In a high-stress position, boundaries are essential—it’s critical to ‘turn off’ and take time for yourself to avoid burnout,” says Ryan-Reid.
Though setting boundaries isn’t a new concept, it’s one that has become ever more elusive in our hyper-connected workplace. Millennials report that modern technology makes it very difficult to switch off and stop thinking about work (54% vs 48% overall). “Taking time to go outside—phone-free—can clear your head and temporarily separate you from work,” says Ryan-Reid. “Email breaks before bed and on the weekends can help you be more present during your time off and refresh your mind to handle any stress that comes your way during work hours.”Though setting boundaries isn’t a new concept, it’s one that has become ever more elusive in our hyper-connected workplace. Click To Tweet
Staying organized—professionally and personally—can boost your productivity while lowering your stress. A thoughtful daily checklist allows you to accomplish the essentials, so you can make time throughout the day for activities that promote a calm and healthy mindset. “From volunteering to reviewing your finances, making time for personal activities like these can help you take control of life outside of work,” says Ryan-Reid. “Even taking 10-minutes to organize your closet, do a meditation session, check in on your insurance coverages or get on top of monthly bills can give you energy to tackle your work to-do list.”
But what if you forget to take time for yourself? “Adding mental health breaks as items on your to-do list can give them added importance so you actually do them,” says Ryan-Reid. And once you check the last item off your list, you’re free to be fully present at home—instead of wondering if you’ve finished everything you were supposed to do.
Financially, Millennials and Gen-Z are struggling the most. In fact, more Gen-Z and Millennials say they are now earning less now than those in other generations, with 32% of Millennials currently struggling to pay their bills. They are the most likely to dip into long-terms savings to pay for short-term expenses. Fully 34% of Millennials say they are less productive at work because of financial worries.
You may not have taken much note of your employer’s health, wellness and financial management benefits when you first accepted your position, but maybe it’s time for a second look. “Many employers offer financial wellness programs with opportunities for both digital and one-one-one guidance with a financial professional,” Ryan-Reid advises. “Often, these benefits can save you money or help with mental health or financial stress.” Employees who are successfully navigating the work-life blend were more likely to state their employers were offering financial health initiatives, so take a look at what’s available to you. It can’t hurt—and it might just help.
Is it possible to be both productive at work and present at home without losing your mind? With the right boundaries and support, the answer is yes.