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Goodbye grind culture? Boomers, Gen X-Y-Z debate on the importance of work-life balance

By Melanie Uson Published Apr 10, 2024 8:04 pm Updated Apr 11, 2024 8:08 am

Over the years, an employee's priorities have shifted when it comes to career development. Boomers focus on long-term rewards, while younger generations value a healthy balance between work and personal life.

On April 10, columnist Cito Beltran discussed in his opinion piece how today’s generation of employees has become like “transient or transit passengers.” He also noted how they have become firm against staying with “bully bosses” or “crippling workspaces” to prioritize their mental health.

“Today’s young employees put a premium on their self-respect over and above bringing home the bacon or keeping a job. Self-respect dictates that no one, not even their boss or a business owner, has a right to insult them, disrespect them or in any way or form insult them,” Beltran underscored. 

This is far different from “long-term employees” from the past who stay at their job for years and/or decades despite the miserable working conditions that mostly extend even after the work shift, he said.

“There was a time when ‘pressure’ was all part of the job, late nights came with the territory and some boss cussing you out was all part of the job,” Beltran continued. “But those days have slowly passed and for good reason.” 

However, he noted that the significant change should be “blamed” on boomers, rather than solely perceiving new employees as “spoiled brats.”

These differing approaches come with criticisms, as many social media users pointed out in the comment section. They say that boomers may perceive boundaries as a sign of entitlement, while younger generations view them as a form of self-care and a response to potentially "exploitative" work conditions.

‘Harsh workplaces’ no longer work 

Some supported Beltran’s stance stressing that harsh working conditions no longer motivate today’s generation of employees to strive and be more productive in their jobs. 

“Boomers and some millennials also need to stop believing that in order to enforce discipline, they have to resort to violence or harsh words, then expect them to remain silent. That ship has long sailed. Just because you suffered in the past, it doesn’t mean new generations should suffer too,” one user wrote, adding how important it is that employers create a “safe space” instead where workers can freely express themselves. 

Another one also emphasized the need for employers to adapt to an ever-changing world. “Enough with the archaic work styles. It’s not Gen Z and millennials' fault that we now value our [lives] more than work. We work to live NOT live to work,” he wrote. 

One social media user seconded this, saying that boomers must realize that the new generation of employees should no longer carry the burden and experience the same harsh workplace they had gone through in the past.  

“Simple lang yan: Boomers are salty because they don’t have the empowerment this generation has. Nasanay na sa ‘Magtiis sa hirap’ mindset,” he wrote.

He added: “It’s amazing how far we’ve gone. Just because you’ve had your hardships doesn’t mean other generations should too. Keep an open mind and you will see that people nowadays are performing at work as well as living their lives.” 

Different times, different working conditions 

While most validate the significant change of prioritizing one’s life outside work, social media users noted how different the conditions were for boomers, saying that they had to go through hardships, especially after suffering from the impacts of the global recession. 

“Let's also remember that baby boomers came after the war when everything was chaotic and unstable. They were looking for stability,” one wrote. 

Others also noted that the crisis has driven older ones to work hard despite all being on a goal to provide the family with the comfortable life they never had, even if it means missing out on their household duties. 

“Boomers were very busy chasing the dream to give their children a luxurious life that they never had. Hence, they might have missed doing the most important job of a parent—that is, inculcating in them the good values that they had learned from their own parents and some other old folks,” another social media user commented. 

Another one, meanwhile, said that boomers should not be “blamed.“ 

“Instead, we need to understand that these generations were raised in different times. The ‘boomers’ are what they are today because they had to build the opportunities this generation is currently experiencing — to an extent from scratch,” an X user wrote. 


Embracing change 

Each generation responds to working conditions the way they see fit to their own accord, may it be achieving a comfortable life, or a balanced life between personal endeavors and career. 

“Boomers learn at their own pace. Instead, I see it as boomers being receptive to the fact that younger generations have learned lessons earlier, and they should embrace the idea that their traditional methods might not be as effective with this new generation,” a Facebook user said. 

Another social media user said that witnessing her parents work hard to make ends meet after experiencing and surviving the hardships of global and national crises helped her realize how to balance her work and family duties. 

“As a boomer myself who grew up during the martial law years, however, I learned to take better control of my time, and part of my self-discipline was segregating family time to weekends and Mondays to Fridays as work days. I learned to set my priorities, doing what I could to separate work time from family time,” she wrote. 

She also noted how younger employees were able to adapt to the challenging time of remote and hybrid setup during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, all while managing family time and personal time, which she said was not possible during their days without much technology.

“As I can see, however, the present generation is far more stressed, being mostly desk-bound with their jobs. No wonder they selfishly guard whatever ‘me time’ they have left,” she concluded.