The younger generation of workers, especially the late millennials and generation-z, are defined by their independence, entrepreneurial nature, and strongly rooted personal beliefs. These younger workers know what they want and are not likely to stick around with a job that does not satisfy their wants and needs. This is unlike the older generations who might endure more hardships to ensure stability.

The free-spirited younger generation will make it known if they are not satisfied with their work or employer. Organisations in this current business environment are at the mercy of these workers as they possess the talent and skills necessary to help a business succeed in the age of IR4.0. These younger workers tend to favour generous benefits, flexible working hours and a good work-life balance as opposed to a higher paying salary but little benefits.

However, a recent survey by the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) and The Straits Times have revealed that the younger workers are no longer the only ones aspiring for a more balanced lifestyle. The survey showed that older workers are beginning to also value flexible work arrangements and would consider leaving a company that did not provide for work-life harmony.

The survey was conducted in 2018 to find out developments and trends in the area of work-life harmony. What was found is intriguing, as older workers expressed a desire for a better work-life balance compared with the same survey done in 2014.

The survey interviewed 511 employers and 1,000 employees, with approximately 59 per cent of employees being aged 55 and above. There was a 14 per cent increase in older workers who said they would consider leaving a company that lacks work-life programmes in 2018 compared to 2014. Almost 95 per cent said that their personal well-being would be better if they could manage their work-life balance more efficiently. This was up from 83 per cent in 2014.

The survey also found that 92 per cent of older workers felt they would work more productively if their company provided flexibility to manage personal and work responsibilities, up from 83 per cent in 2014.

According to Dr Helen Ko, a senior lecturer of gerontology programmes at Singapore University of Social Sciences, the results of the survey conforms with previously conducted local research which showed that flexible work arrangements are desired by workers of all ages.

“Flexible or part-time work can help older workers with caring or domestic responsibilities and who need to manage long-term health problems,” she said.

She also makes mention that older workers would like to work part time, preferring to go back and forth between periods of work and periods of leisure. Despite still having the will to continue working, many of these older workers also want more time to spend with their families or go overseas for a trip.

However, workers across all age groups may find it an uphill climb to fulfil those desires as the survey also suggests a mismatch of expectations between them and their employers.

While there are more employers today that agree to a more balanced work-life experience, the number of those that believe older employees should be present in the office throughout the working hours increased from 49 per cent to 62 per cent. Some experts speculate that there is a disconnect between the needs of older workers and demands of employers. As a result, employers may only be recognising the needs of younger workers while overlooking those of the older ones.

Given that the ageing population is increasing overall throughout the globe, experts agree that employers need to re-evaluate their expectations, as the older members of the workforce is just as vital as the younger ones.