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​Why project managers in mid-career demand work-life balance

  • Publish Date: Posted 11 months ago

Don’t dismiss the wellbeing revolution as a young people’s thing. Project managers aged 35-50 say balancing personal life and work is an increasing priority, a new study in Project journal reveals.

While it’s no surprise that having children changes people’s priorities, it’s not only parents who are saying this. People who no longer have the energy of a 20-year-old are no longer willing to put up, shut up, and keep up–they’re done working excessive hours.

And for project managers in particular–whose work is, by definition, project-based–short-term assignments with no long-term security become a growing concern with age.

The new normal

One of the many changes brought about by the pandemic is the ability to do project management work from home–which has also brought about a sea-change in attitudes to work-life balance, both for project managers and for those they manage. It’s now commonly understood that offering flexible and hybrid working can boost performance as well as attract and retain staff.

Workplace culture is another new priority that’s not just a buzzword for the young. Project managers in their 30s, 40s, and 50s are also prioritising workplaces with a positive culture and a relatively flat structure–where there’s not too much emphasis on hierarchy and the leadership is accessible and friendly.

Location is also a growing consideration for older project managers. Again, even those who don’t have children are more likely to have partners and pets who won’t take kindly to their upping sticks and travelling all over the country–or even abroad–for each new project.

For some mid-career project managers, work-life balance may be as simple as having work close enough to home that they can jump on a bike rather than a plane. For others, it’s a pervasive attitude change. In any case, it’s clear that work-life balance is no longer negotiable for many senior project managers–and employers will do well to take note.