Millennials have become the world’s most observed generation in recent years—be it for the early onset of chronic diseases or the number of hours spent on average on smartphones. They are also the biggest demographic group in India.
A recent survey by furniture brand Godrej Interio says older millennials (in the 30-40 age group) fumble when it comes to maintaining a balanced lifestyle. Gen Xers, aged 41-50 according to the survey, are more adept at getting this right.
According to the findings of the Make Space For Life survey—conducted in 2019 among 1,300 Indians living across Chandigarh, Mumbai, Jaipur, Patna, Coimbatore, Pune, Lucknow, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Delhi, Chennai, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, Kanpur—61% of the older millennials rated their work-life balance as terrible, compared with 48% of the Gen X respondents.
“Today’s millennial generation lives in a drastically different world from the one which Generation X grew up in,” says Anil Mathur, chief operating officer, Godrej Interio. “In those days, fulfilling family responsibilities played a major role in people’s lives. Thus, Generation X focused their energies towards finding security and stability in life before opting for exorbitant luxuries. Millennials have grown up in an environment where technological advancements and exposure to the world have shaped their thought process,” adds Mathur.
The survey,which assesses work-life balance dynamics in the lives of Indians, also found that 49% of the Gen X population gives more importance to this, compared with 44% of millennials. Fifty-nine per cent of the Gen X respondents also said they spend time pursuing their passions, compared with just 38% of the older millennials. The misuse of new-age technology has been held responsible—in the survey too—for the fact that Indians find less time to bond with family members and follow their passions.
“The millennials were born with it (technology). It is an integral part of their life. So much so that now there is a huge dependency on it. Technology is making people lazier,” says Mumbai-based life coach and author Milind Jadhav.
This is happening across the world. According to the 2020 Modern Families Index, published recently by the UK-based Working Families and Bright Horizons Family Solutions, many people in the UK reported that “they dipped into work after they left the office and returned home”. The index is one of the most comprehensive studies on how working parents manage the balance between work and family life: 3,090 working parents and carers distributed across the UK were surveyed.
“Technology was a mixed blessing for parents in the Index. Fifty-six per cent, and more fathers than mothers, said it had helped them obtain a better work-life balance. However, 28% remained equivocal about the benefits, and 16% felt it had harmed their work-life balance. For many, technology increased their work hours—48% agreed with this statement,” the index explains.
How would automation affect this equation? Mathur believes the adoption of automation at workplaces would result in “higher productivity, GDP growth and improved corporate performance”, but also change the skills required from an employee. “As the routine tasks can be automated, the workforce of the future stands a chance to maintain a better work-life balance,” he adds.
Jadhav says that while automation could create more flexibility for employees in the future, it would account for nothing in the work-life balance debate unless it is supported by a change in the fundamental attitude towards life. “Unless people acknowledge that their work-life balance is a function of their own choices and not a result of the industry or organizational culture, I don’t see major shifts in people’s lives.”