What Men and Women Really Think of Work/Life Balance

What Men and Women Really Think of Work/Life Balance

Since the phrase “work/life balance” first appeared in the American lexicon nearly 30 years ago, everyone from office drones to career experts have pondered whether it’s truly possible to effectively juggle personal and professional responsibilities.

Now, new research yields some surprising insights into whether work/life balance is really achievable.

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The study, sponsored by Allstate and the National Journal, found that about half (54%) of all respondents believe it is possible to succeed at work while simultaneously contributing time to their families and communities. But when you take a closer look at the answers by demographics, that point of view is likely to shift.

When drilling down by gender, the survey indicated that significantly more men than women believe work/life balance is achievable (61% vs 48%). And a similar split held true between fathers and mothers, suggesting that juggling work and family responsibilities is still more difficult for women—or perhaps that women are likelier to admit their struggles in this area.

There also appears to be a waning belief that work/life balance is possible once you enter middle age.

Despite recent suggestions that it’s virtually impossible for young adults to "turn off” because they are constantly tethered to their technology, those aged 18 to 33 are more likely than any other age group to be optimistic about work/life balance, with 59% saying it was attainable. That's compared with 49% of those ages 34 to 49, and 57% of those ages 50 to 68.

The survey also revealed a curious difference of opinion by income level. Slightly more than half of those who make less than $75,000 are inclined to say that work/life balance is possible. When you look at those who earn between $75,000 and $100,000, that number dips to 48%. But then it shifts back up among Americans who earn at least $100,000, with as many as 63% saying work/life balance is attainable.

No matter which demo you fall into, one thing appears to be for sure when you look at the survey numbers: Work/life balance is hard to come by. One tip for those trying to manage multiple priorities is simply to alter your perspective: Take a tip from this expert, who says the key is integrating, rather than separating, different parts of your life.

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