Maintaining a worklife balance often results in life spilling over into the workplace for millennial workers Thinkstock

Maintaining a work-life balance often results in life spilling over into the workplace for millennial workers.

Life Beyond Work: What’s Gobbling Up Employees’ On-the-Clock Attention?

A new poll finds that 87 percent of working Americans spend on-the-clock hours managing personal affairs.

If you think most employees are handling personal business on their own time, you should think again.

A new national poll of working Americans from Workplace Options, a leading global provider of employee well-being services, shows the vast majority of employees deal with personal matters on their employer’s dime.

Nearly nine out of 10 (87 percent) survey respondents reported at least occasionally using time during their workday to deal with personal issues – defined as financial, legal, dependent care or daily living matters. Also, about one-third (31 percent) said they used several hours of time at work each week to manage their life beyond the workplace.

Younger employees are most likely to use time during the workday for personal matters. Half (50 percent) of millennials (age 18-29) said they spend multiple hours at work each week dealing with personal matters, compared to just 32 percent of those age 30-45, 28 percent of those age 46-65 and 30 percent of those older than 65 who reported the same.

“A lot of companies out there, especially larger employers, are looking at ways to more effectively support employees and help them focus on the job they’re being paid to do,” said Dean Debnam, chief executive officer of Workplace Options. “But most of these efforts focus on employees’ emotional and physical well-being. It’s clear from this poll that a lot of people also need practical assistance to help them deal with things like financial, legal, and dependent care issues.”

Areas Where Employees are Spending Time

Respondents were asked to identify the leading cause of lost productivity for their co-workers and colleagues. Of the responses, 20 percent identified matters associated with children and family members, and 17 percent said online research for items unrelated to work were the biggest source of distraction.

“Child care and daily living matters dominate much of the average employee’s attention,” Debnam said. “Those are things that impact people of all races, geographies and income level.”

When asked if their employers offered any programs or services to help employees manage their personal lives, 68 percent said no. However, 64 percent reported that these services would be a valuable resource – if they could be offered at no cost to the employee.

“A lot of major employers already offer some basic level of work-life or convenience service designed to help employees find this kind of help,” Debnam said. “But obviously, most companies either aren’t offering the right kind of service, or aren’t communicating to employees effectively about the resources at their disposal.”  

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