Home Tools and Applications Health and Wellness The “Work-Life” Evolution: Understanding the Past to Help Your Clients Navigate the Future

The “Work-Life” Evolution: Understanding the Past to Help Your Clients Navigate the Future

11 min read

1970-1989 Work-Life Separation | During this time, more women entered the workplace. At the time of the Equal Pay Act (1963), women made 59.4 cents for every $1 earned by men (compared to 80.5% in 2017).1 We talked about “having both,” meaning being successful at home and work; however, there was emphasis on keeping those domains separated. In other words, leave your work at the office, and leave your family concerns at home. Children who grew up in the 1950s lived through WWII and observed the scarcity of work. They entered the workforce with a great appreciation for work and were proud to earn money to care for their families.

Upsides: When not at work (i.e., “after five”), you enjoy time fully focused on family; there is more predictability of what to expect at work; clearer boundaries.

Downsides: Lack of authentic relationships; lack of acknowledgement of work-life tensions; feel like “worker bees;” emotions are left at the door.

1990-2009 Work-Life Balance | In the 1990s, we realized we cannot do it all—and started a battle cry for balance. Stay-at-home parents were more rare—as households with two parents relied on two incomes to stay afloat. 70% of families in 1960 had a stay-at-home parent (compared to 2012 70% did not).2­ “Latchkey Kids” was a popular term in the 1970/80’s indicating that more kids were coming home after school alone because both parents (in 2-parent homes) were working. They saw their parents dedicated to their work and wanted more balance for themselves when they entered the workforce around the 1990s. Pagers and cell phones quickly gain popularity, and technology begins to find a place in our pockets. Progressive workplaces offer benefits such as counseling and discounted weight-loss programs.

Upsides: Health consciousness; re-defining of roles at home; work-life balance is discussed openly.

Downsides: Working too much becomes a badge of honor; women feel guilty for not effectively managing both work and home; technology allows work to infiltrate home time.

2010-2019 Work-Life Integration | Children born in the 1990s grew up with the “superparents” trying to give 100% to each domain (i.e., work and home). When entering the workforce, these workers emphasized doing meaningful work and tended to blur the lines between work and life. Today, your personal cellphone is loaded with your work calendar, contacts, and email. Workplaces offer flexible work schedules, and collaboration technology allows for us to plug in from virtually anywhere in the world. Integration means you work everywhere, including discussing a client project while exercising with a colleague during your lunch break, or watching your child’s soccer game. By 2014, 26% of the workforce feels pressure to respond to messages outside of work.3

Upsides: Working virtually; technology to telework enables flexibility; better use of talents; Millennials demand balance.

 Downsides: It is not possible to disconnect; no opportunity to rest and think; feeling of stress and overwhelm. Millennials experience more depression at work than any other generation (BDA, 2013, MMPI, 2017) 4 primarily from constantly being “on.” And, by 2025, chronic diseases will affect 49% of the population.5


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