Fragile balance : a phenomenological study exploring work-life balance of Millennial professionals
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This phenomenological study explored the work-life balance of Millennial regional specialist professionals at University of Missouri (MU) Extension, part of a nationwide non-credit educational organization, the Cooperative Extension Service System. Millennials (born 1981-1996) now represent the largest segment of the U.S. workforce (Fry, 2018). While this generation reportedly prioritizes work-life balance, little is known about their ability to achieve it. The research question was: How do Millennial regional specialists perceive their experience with work-life balance at MU Extension? The purpose was to understand how Millennials experience work-life balance in a profession with a history of work-life imbalance issues. Transcendental phenomenology methodology (Moustakas, 1994) guided the data collection and analysis. Purposeful sampling was used to identify regional specialists with county engagement responsibilities who met the selection criteria: 1) Millennials who were 2) employed by MU Extension for 2 years or more. Semi-structured, one-on-one interviews were conducted with 12 participants, including 10 females and 2 males representing a variety of marital and parental statuses. The analysis revealed four main themes: managing, control over workload, flexibility, and supervisor support. The findings indicated that the participants' experiences with work-life balance varied widely. While they were "managing," their balance was fragile. This study confirmed prior research findings that supervisor support for work-life balance, control over workload and work demands, and flexible work schedules and hours are important for work-life balance. It is recommended that administrators 1) institute flextime policies that accommodate individual needs and 2) train supervisors to provide employee support for work-life balance.