American attitudes towards work-life balance
March 1st, 2023, Clifton Mark

American attitudes towards work-life balance

After the workplace disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic, from the normalization of work-from-home, to the so-called “Great Resignation,” the question of what kind of conditions workers demand and can command is back on the table. So what do American workers want? According to YouGov’s 2022 Workforce Insights Survey, Americans want some time away from the job. Along with health benefits and bonuses, paid time off both for holiday and sick leave are among the most non-salary essential benefits that North American employees expect.

This reflects how widely Americans value work-life balance. Of those surveyed in a recent poll, only 5% say it’s “not very important” or “not important at all.” The vast majority of Americans (89%) are split between saying that work-life balance is “somewhat important” (20%) and saying it’s “very important” (69%).

Attitudes towards work-life balance vary significantly with age, with younger consumers placing less value on it. Only half (50%) of 18-24-year-olds believe that work-life balance is “very important,” compared to 80% of those aged 55 and above. This may reflect changing priorities as people move through their career or family arc or it may have something to do with precarious working conditions for younger Americans. Attitudes also vary with gender, with women (74%) more likely than men (65%) to call work-life balance “very important.” At the other end of the spectrum, 6% of men say it’s “not very important” or “not important at all” compared to 4% of women.

Work status also makes a difference. Full-time workers (71%) are more likely than part-time workers (61%) and the temporarily unemployed (62%) to say that work-life balance is very important. Employees (69%) are more likely than self-employed (62%) workers to say the same. One group of respondents who ascribe less importance to work-life balance than average are those in high-level management positions. Only 53% of chairpersons and 54% of chief executives say that balance is “very important,” well below the general population.

While Americans mostly agree that work-life balance is important, they differ somewhat when it comes to how they believe that balance is usually disturbed. When asked in which direction work-life balance is more likely to get nudged off kilter, 43% of Americans said it’s towards more work and 23% said towards more life. Another fifth of respondents (20%) said both types of imbalance are equally likely.

Again, answers vary with age and gender. Younger respondents are more likely to say that more life is the cause of unbalance, with 32% of 18-24-year-old and 27% of 25-34-year-olds answering in this way, compared to only 17% of those aged 55+. Older respondents were more likely to say that “more work” is the problem, with 47% of 45-54-year-olds and 46% of those 55 and older. This compares to only 37% of 18-24-year-olds. It appears that older generations are more concerned than the young that too much work can unbalance the lives of Americans.

Explore our living data – for free 

Make smarter business decisions with better intelligence. Understand exactly what your audience is thinking by leveraging our panel of 20 million+ members. Speak with us today.  

Methodology:YouGov Profiles is based on continuously collected data and rolling surveys, rather than from a single limited questionnaire. Profiles data for the US is nationally representative of the online and weighted by age, gender, education, region, and race. Learn more about Profiles.   

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash