The Workers Seeking a ‘Soft Life’

Employers love when they find staff who are passionate about their careers and the work they do—workers who turn that passion into committed engagement and are willing to put in long hours and tolerate stress and demanding tasks in order to get the job done.

Of course, that kind of commitment is great for an employer but not always for workers, who aren’t necessarily compensated appropriately for their level of engagement and can become burnt out or develop an unhealthy and unfulfilling life outside of work.

The Need for Work/Life Balance

Increasingly, many younger workers in particular are experimenting with the other end of the career engagement spectrum and pursing a work/life balance, with a much greater emphasis on the “life” portion.

“Life has changed a lot in the last two years, and many people are embracing a so-called ‘soft life’—a rejection of the struggle, stress, and anxiety that comes with working a traditional 9-to-5 career and spinning away your days on life’s hamster wheel,” writes Trey Williams in an article for Fortune. “Instead, living the soft life is about throwing yourself into joy, and prioritizing the richness of experiences.”

Seeking the ‘Soft Life’

Williams writes that the COVID-19 pandemic was the catalyst that got many workers rethinking their devotion to work at the expense of their lives outside of work. “The collective trauma of this worldwide tragedy allowed some to pump the breaks, turn into the skid and realize that perhaps there was something more important in their lives than the stressing over whether they were living for their job hard enough,” he says.

For employers, workers pursuing a “soft life” may be a discomforting trend, particularly in a labor market in which it’s already so hard for many to find employees. But that same labor market also means many employers will be forced to embrace the reality of those pursuing soft lives and will need to reevaluate their expectations when it comes to employee commitment.

Lin Grensing-Pophal is a Contributing Editor at HR Daily Advisor.