Work Life Integration: Overcoming Generational Gaps

Written by Paul Marchildon, on October 21, 2014.

generational gap

I should have been a Millennial. Flextime. The emphasis on health, fitness, and recreation. The love of tapas instead of heavy meals. Work/life integration. These kids don’t even mess around with work/life balance. They recognize that the lines between work and life are blurred, and most see no problem with checking work email at home or catching up with a friend on Facebook while they’re “on the clock.” It’s rapidly becoming a Gen Y world; the rest of us only benefit from bridging the generational gap.

Working this weekend? Sure – on my tan

Recently, I was sitting with a friend over coffee. About my age, he’s a VP of a confectionary company. He told me about a situation he’d run into at work. Approaching a young brand manager on a Friday afternoon (when he was about to take advantage of the company’s summer hours), my pal said, “We have this marketing challenge, and it needs to be worked out by Monday.”

Rewind a decade or so ago. The young brand manager would have sighed, maybe quietly brushed away a tear or two before saying, “Ok. Guess we’re hunkering down and coming in over the weekend.”

This guy, though, said, “Ok. Guess we’ll have to tackle that first thing Monday morning. I’m going whitewater rafting in Ottawa this weekend! See ya!” I love it! He’s going to have a great weekend and come back to work fresh and ready to tackle the challenge. The key is not to get stuck in a mentality that places a priority on butts being in the office rather than results employees achieve.

Increase Efficiency and Improve Performance in the Workplace: Just Add Leisure

The work world has changed; there’s no way around it. There is a way to capitalize on that transformation though: accepting and embracing a culture of leisureology. If you respect and value leisure, you’ll be more effective at work. Study after study – and happy employee after happy employee – prove this. And here’s another aspect to consider: when you recognize the importance of leisure, you plan ahead. It drives efficiencies everywhere.

Employees Lacking Motivation?

Paul Marchildon, an experienced Leisureologist, can work with you and your team to increase productivity by incorporating a leisure mindset into the workplace.

Take that whitewater-rafting brand manager. He likely worked diligently all week, to complete and perhaps even got a start on the week ahead, so that he could enjoy a weekend off. The truth is that if you have 24 hours to finish a project or solve a problem, then you’re going to take all 24. If you have four, you’ll do it in four. It’s about using the time to its best advantage – and to yours.

Leading a Millennial Workforce

As a manager, you need to respect your people’s time off. Say I approached an employee on a Friday and told him or her that we have this big challenge that needed sorting out by Monday. My first thought wouldn’t be, “This person needs to work this weekend.” It’s, “What did I do wrong? Why did I decide – on a Friday afternoon – that this was so urgent? Couldn’t I have foreseen it earlier so we could have focused on the challenge during the workweek? Could we have worked later on Thursday so everyone could have enjoyed their summer hours and weekend?”

So many times, when people are working long hours, it’s a case of management-by-crisis. Leaders are putting out fire after fire instead of proactively planning. Offering summer hours, respecting weekends, encouraging lunchtime workouts, and more, forces managers and employees alike to plan ahead and use time more efficiently (and if they don’t, it’s the individual employee that’s the problem – not the perks).

Maybe everyone should be Millennials – or at least adopt a mindset that work and leisure are not mutually exclusive entities. We’d all benefit from the realization that you can recreate, rejuvenate, relax and improve performance and efficiency.

Paul Marchildon

Paul Marchildon

A self-proclaimed Leisureologist and Motivational Speaker, Paul Marchildon applies his vast expertise in human engagement to help leaders create more productive, effective organizations. Building on an influential career as a pioneer in employee incentive and loyalty programs, strategic creative communications, social media and mobile marketing, Paul provides insight into the advantages of incorporating a leisure culture in the "work" place. He is past president of Society of Incentive and Travel Executives’ (Site) Canadian Chapter and founder of Atlantis Creative Group (now part of Maritz Canada). He is one of a select group of Canadians who have received the Certified Incentive Travel Executive (CITE) designation.