Flexibility may be an effective recruitment tool for employers, and not just because employees enjoy working from home.
For instance, in an IWG survey of HR professionals published last month, 55% said their organizations were using hybrid work to address workers’ child care concerns, and 47% were using the model to improve work-life balance and address workers’ mental health issues. But most respondents also saw the value of in-person work, stating that they believed in a correlation between the number of days employees spent in office and their productivity and wellness.
That approach may be to the benefit of employers, according to a recent Gallup report. The research and polling company’s Q3 2022 poll asked a random survey of nearly 16,000 U.S. full-time and part-time employees in the U.S. about their work-life balance preferences, prompting them to choose between a 9-to-5 job in which work and life were separated and one in which the two were blended throughout the day.
In the end, Gallup found a “dead-even, 50-50 split between the two preferences,” Jim Harter, chief scientist for the company’s workplace management practice, wrote in an analysis of the survey data.
Gallup also found that different industries had varying compositions of the two camps — “splitters,” to refer to those who preferred work and life to be separated entirely, and “blenders” to refer to those who preferred a work-life blend.
For example, among production and front-line workers surveyed, 59% said they were splitters, representing the highest such total among all categories. On the opposite extreme, 54% of healthcare and social assistance workers said they were blenders.
Each of the other industry groups surveyed by Gallup had a balance that fell somewhere in between, with managerial roles showing the most even split; 49% of managerial workers said they were splitters and 51% said they were blenders.
“Predictably, on-site workers are more likely to be splitters at 61%, but 39% of those workers still have a blender’s mentality,” Harter said. “And though 6 in 10 hybrid and remote workers prefer blending, there are still 4 in 10 who prefer splitting their time between work and life.”
Harter noted that managers may not realize that such preferences exist within their teams and that splitters and blenders may prefer different work arrangements that can help them achieve their desired level of balance.
That may prove useful knowledge at a time when many employers — facing operational exhaustion after more than two years of a pandemic — may be shaping their return-to-work plans based on pre-pandemic norms, according Future Forum’s 2022 Pulse survey findings published in October.
“The reality is that both types of employees can be highly engaged and productive,” Harter said of splitters and blenders. “But not knowing which is which could lead to lower engagement, feelings of disrespect and more burnout for all.”
Managers may use workflow preferences to help plan how and when their teams operate, particularly in a hybrid or remote work environment, according to speakers at a September Quartz virtual event. Harter said that managers could use their knowledge of team preferences to determine how to approach certain work scenarios, such as receiving emails during weekends or off-hours.