Money & Business

Embracing A Lateral Career Move for Better Work-Life Balance

By / Mar 31, 2016 (iStock/Thinkstock)

A new survey of American workers found that many are open to making a lateral career move if it means greater life satisfaction and professional development—a finding organizations may find useful when it comes to talent development.

Around this time last year, a global survey found that managing work-life balance was getting harder for one-third of workers around the world, especially millennials and parents.

For most U.S. workers this should come as no surprise. In fact, the country ranks 29th out of 36 countries for work-life balance, according to a recent survey from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Yet, the idea of better work-life balance, while to some may seem elusive, has become a motivating factor for many U.S. workers. A recent survey from staffing agency Robert Half found that more than 50 percent of working professionals have increased their commitment to their personal lives in the last year. This finding was especially true among millennials.

“In a strong job market, professionals have more confidence in their career prospects, which gives them the breathing room to focus on interests outside of work,” Paul McDonald, senior executive director at Robert Half, said in a statement. “Companies that offer perks to help with work-life balance, such as generous vacation policies or the ability to telecommute, have a recruiting edge.”

With such an emphasis on work-life balance, and subsequently life satisfaction, it’s also no surprise that another survey found that it’s influencing American employees’ career moves—more so than the promise of larger paychecks or more senior titles.

For example, almost 90 percent of American employees reported they would make a lateral career move within their organizations, and 57 percent of those employees would do so if it meant greater personal satisfaction and growth opportunities.

The same study, conducted by cloud-based learning and talent management software Cornerstone OnDemand, also uncovered an opportunity for organizations that encourage their employees to move among departments in order to learn new skills as only 32 percent of surveyed employees reported that their organizations encouraged this type of movement.

If more organizations embraced lateral movement among employees, it could put them at an advantage in the talent market, and in general. Employees moving within an organization already have the institutional knowledge and familiarity with organizational dynamics that could take newcomers months to learn.

An organization that is open to allowing its employees to grow their skill sets in different areas may also keep motivated and engaged staff longer. The OnDemand study found, for example, that more than half of survey respondents reported that they expect to change careers—not just jobs—at some point in the future.

On a slightly different note, American workers are also still very much interested in improving their work-life balance via flex schedules and working remotely, the  survey noted. And with the flexibility that comes with telecommuting, many workers are now able to make different choices about where they want to live. Almost 80 percent of respondents reported they would choose to relocate to another city if they were allowed to work remotely, and about 60 percent of workers would go to great lengths in order to work abroad.

Would you make a lateral career move for greater work-life balance, or would you consider telecommuting if it meant living in the city or region of your choice? Please share in the comments.

Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. More »

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