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An organization’s attitude toward employees’ time away from the office can determine how that organization retains employees of all generations, according to Jennifer Deal, researcher and author of Retiring the Generation Gap: How Employees Young & Old Can Find Common Ground.

As part of a larger Center for Creative Leadership study on generations in the workplace, Deal found that people of all generations want to do a good job at work – but they also want to have good quality of life outside the office. Whether they are raising young families, preparing for retirement, caring for elderly parents or pursuing personal interests, employees often feel that their organizations forget that they have lives outside work.

Organizations and leaders can help all generations navigate their need for work-life balance by following four key guidelines:

No. 1: Clarify priorities. Participants in the CCL study reported they have trouble ranking priorities when everything at work is always labeled urgent by the employer. It is important to know when work pressure has eased up so that workers can give priority to their families.

No. 2: Practice realistic resourcing. When people have too much work during normal work hours, taking necessary time with their families results in unfinished or substandard work. The perception is that organizations don’t care enough about employees when they fail to resource work appropriately. Organizations must spread the work out realistically so employees can get it done without sacrificing balance.

No. 3: Reduce stress. Extreme stress is one reason people leave their jobs or turn down interesting positions. Some people feel forced to choose between a job that would be interesting and challenging and the kind of life they want to lead.

No. 4: Create flexibility. Study participants of all generations said they would be more likely to stay with their organizations if they could work a flexible schedule. People with young children believe flexibility would allow them to get more work done while spending more time with family. Many older people think that a flexible schedule would be more convenient as they approached retirement. People of all generations request the option of telecommuting.

Want to keep your organization competitive in retaining employees of all ages? Remember that they have home lives, too, and take the steps that promote balance in your workers’ lives.

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