Work-life balance: the worker’s new top-priority

In the wake of the pandemic, many have reassessed their professional priorities, with quality-of-life more often than not winning out over pay and career advancement.

Posted lundi, février 13 2023
Work-life balance: the worker’s new top-priority

The search for meaning, a good work-life balance, flexible hours, the right to work from home, a better salary, upskilling opportunities… the pandemic shook up the world of work, and with it workers’ expectations. 2023 looks set to the be the year where these employee demands reach fever-pitch.

According to a study by staffing firm ManpowerGroup entitled, The New Human Age, the main current trends in the professional world confirm recruiters’ fears: for staff and jobseekers alike, the era of the good corporate soldier is at an end – a healthy balance between an employee’s professional and private life is a now prerequisite.      

Anxious about their health and wellbeing, 45% of respondents to a Jean-Jaurès Foundation study put fulfillment on a par with remuneration when it came to what they most valued in their professional life.

The quest for harmony
In an Apec study published in November 2022 entitled, Full-time-employee perception of remote work, 70% of respondents stated that remote work had improved their wellbeing and quality of life.

Indeed, in the post-pandemic landscape, 41% of French employees desire a greater level of flexibility at work and a better work-life balance. A figure not to be taken lightly, since it is precisely these motives that incite 33% of French-people to switch jobs.

The modern worker also wants a greater level of freedom and autonomy to organize the hours they are required to work. For a quarter of all workers in France, an increased willingness to listen, flexibility and a less overt management style are what they want from a boss.   

Alain Roumilhac, president of ManwpowerGroup France, echos these sentiments, concluding that “it’s important companies don’t neglect the importance of human capital” since “the pandemic demonstrated the ability of the French to adapt to professional upheaval on an unprecedented scale.” And if the French showed their willingness to adapt during the pandemic, companies had every interest in, “taking stock of these new desires expressed by staff and jobseekers, in order to assure growth and shape the future of work for the better.”    

Back to the office
A divide is emerging, however, between what staff want and the wishes of management, many of whom are attempting to call time on the remote-work era.  

Across the Atlantic, many US companies were among the first to go fully remote in response to the pandemic, with some embracing it as a progressive lifestyle choice. In the months and years since, many of those tech companies that went 100% remote have tried to get staff to come back to the office, only to be met with opposition.

Some companies, in the image of Google, have taken the carrot approach, offering workers free subscriptions to e-scooters to entice them back to the office part-time, while others, such as Tesla, take a firmer stance, mandating 40 hours of in-person work per week, with Elon Musk decreeing that remote work was no longer acceptable at his company.

As Disney seeks to boost productivity in the midst of alarming financial results, in January, CEO Bob Iger demanded staff come into the office at least four days per week. Meanwhile, Dyson founder James Dyson took to the pages of The Times recently to rail against the remote-work culture, calling it counter-productive.  

Back on this side of the English Channel, are the almost 50% of French workers still working remotely part of the week ready to come back to the office full-time? A recent IPSOS study would suggest otherwise, with six out of ten staff whose job is exercised using a computer preferring a hybrid model, with the choice of which days to work remotely left up to them, rather than their superiors.

How companies navigate this issue is shaping up to be a key strategic challenge for the year ahead.