Core Attitudes About Work Have Shifted – The Freedonia Group


Many of the core attitudes about work have shifted since 2020, despite having held steady for a decade or more before then. These move are small, but indicate a change in how at least some Americans view work and their work-life balance:

  • Fewer people admit to working most weekends, which could be due in part to the closures of retail stores and foodservice entities where workers routinely work during weekend hours.

  • Fewer people say they would continue working if they won the lottery, which is possibly linked to a shift in priorities during the pandemic, as they realized that life is short and time is valuable.

  • Fewer people say that juggling family and work demand is very stressful. Remote work has, for many families, allowed a level of flexibility that could make family care easier. Children returning to in-person schooling in 2021 also helped as remote schooling would have made even working from home more stressful for people with family responsibilities.
Attitudes by Generation

Attitudes about work vary by generation:

  • Commitment to work drops off as people age, which is likely linked to older respondent groups including retired or semi-retired people. Additionally, older people are more likely to be working in jobs that were intended as supplementary income or as something to keep busy, so the growth and reward associated with career-oriented work are not there.

  • The view that juggling work and family is very stressful declines with age. This is likely because respondents in Gen Z, Millennial, and Gen X groups are more likely to have children still living at home. Still, older respondents in the Baby Boomer and Older group also include people who care for grandchildren or have other family care responsibilities such as an ailing or disabled family member.

  • Younger respondents are most likely to say they will continue working even if they won the lottery. These workers are less likely to have any other significant savings set aside in retirement funds. They are also more likely to have a longer expected lifespan, and either expect to keep working for personal growth, to stay busy, or to supplement their winnings in order to maintain their lifestyle for their remaining years.

  • Interest in working as a team is highest among younger respondents, probably due to the fact that they are more recently removed from school, where they likely worked on group projects.

  • Working on weekends is highest among younger respondents. They are not only more likely to be trying to establish themselves in their careers by putting in longer hours to reflect their commitment, but they are also more likely to be working in foodservice, retail, and other industries where weekend hours are the norm.

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