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Professor Scott Galloway wrote in a post that went viral on LinkedIn: "Having balance at my age is a function of lacking it at your age." In his view, work-life balance is accumulated with career capital.
Galloway's view likely reflects the lived experience of many Boomer and Gen X workers – people who worked hard to climb the career ladder early on will have the professional clout or financial resources to slow down later on.
Yet, in the wake of the pandemic, there's more awareness of the need to balance work and personal lives.
Deferred gratification is common. Traditional thinking is that workers who put in long hours early in their careers and ascend the corporate ladder will find it easing up when they've reached financial security or a certain level of seniority.
Galloway believes that "your professional trajectory is disproportionately, and unfairly, set by the early years of your career." If you want balance later in life, you shouldn't be seeking it in your twenties. Instead, look for opportunities to break through the competition, accelerate your job prospects and eventually reach grander career heights.
The pandemic offered a fresh perspective on the role work plays in people's lives. People realised that their work hours don't make sense, and that work is only one aspect of their lives.
Workers of all ages are seeking more flexibility in their jobs and trying to break the link between perceived productivity and presenteeism. However, workplaces generally reward those that prioritise grind while those who seek work-life balance may fall behind.
The current discussion around work-life balance does have an impact. Industries trying to erode work-life balance will likely have trouble recruiting and retaining. Tight talent markets mean workers can be picky.
However, the professional and financial pressures pushing young workers towards long hours and career commitment will likely remain. Galloway states that the reality is that working towards a work-life balance is slow and boring. Healthy work-life balance is a huge benefit later in life, so it's worth investing in it as early as possible.
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