The Millennial View: Wellbeing and work-life balance

Our focus this month is on engaging our next generation of leaders: millennials. We spoke to professionals in their late 20s and early 30s who told us that a pay cheque alone just doesn’t cut it anymore. This group expects leaders to look out for their team members’ physical and mental health, and to get to know them as individuals – not just for the work they do but for who they are.

This isn’t just a millennial perk. Happy, healthy employees who feel valued are better employees, no matter what their age group.

We asked the group for advice on ways you can go the extra mile to show your staff you care.


‘Culture is more important than pay’

One woman we spoke to told us that ‘culture is more important than pay. We value strong team vibes, workmate friendships, informal mentoring, and social events that allow us to show our broader selves.’

Global Women Principal Partners SKYCITY and PwC both offer ways for their staff to get together and get to know one another away from their desks. PwC’s social club offers sports, cultural and family events, while SKYCITY’s social club is combined with discounts at the company’s hotels and restaurants.

A company’s culture is also about work/life balance, which our millennials expect as standard. While millennials will happily work hard and be flexible, leaders need to realise that ‘we cannot always answer emails or messages in the evening, and that we need time to be disconnected.’ Another of our panel agreed, adding that leaders need to ‘recognise that we have lives away from work and that often family has to come first.’

Their advice to employers was to ‘support us by being open to part-time roles and/or very flexible working arrangements,’ and to not ‘judge people by the hours spent in the office but by the work they do.’


Support me to stay active

A decade ago employers might offer access to an employee assistance phone line and say ‘job done’ on the subject of employee wellbeing. That’s no longer enough.

From discounted gym membership to health insurance benefits, there is a whole range of ways that employers are supporting their staff to look after themselves.

Commonwealth athlete Elizabeth Gapes (née Lamb) [right], who works at Global Women Principal Partner PwC, loves that the company supports her to stay active. ‘As an ex athlete, it’s really important to me to be in a place that keeps me active and I know my work is better as a result,’ she says.

When it comes to more unusual health and fitness perks, the millennials we spoke to mentioned getting a $2 reward each day they hit 10,000 steps on their fitness tracker, and a ‘biggest loser’ competition, in which the office collectively lost a few hundred kilos.

One referred to companies in Silicon Valley ‘paying for top performing female employees to freeze their eggs so they can stay in their role longer and still have a family later.’

It looks like we’re not there yet. Over to our millennials for the last word: ‘New Zealand has a long way to go in terms of looking after their employees’.