By Holly Riddle
Work-life balance and the rise of remote and hybrid work arrangements have become more mainstream since 2020. Talent in Happy Valley at area companies that embraced remote working, such as Restek and AccuWeather, said that remote work helped them to achieve better work-life balance. For new talent entering the workforce, it has to be a given.
Dr. Katharine Staley, Ph.D., a Happy Valley-based licensed clinical psychologist and the founder of River Rocks Consulting, said this is for good reason.
This area provides the opportunity [for work-life balance] if you're disciplined about it.
“Gen Zs and younger millennials are really just different generations in how they are reassessing priorities,” she said. “Gen Z is really reassessing what’s valuable and important to them and they’re demanding and looking for work-life balance.”
She added that their perspective is based on a few things, like watching their own parents make work-life sacrifices as well as a lack of employer-to-talent loyalty that exists in the current business climate.
Talk to talent in Happy Valley — regardless of age, career path or whether they’re natives or transplants — and you’ll hear a common theme: It’s easy to find work-life balance here. In fact, for many, they don’t even have to try–it’s organic, thanks to factors like short commute times and nearby opportunities for fun, entertainment and recreation.
Centre County Commissioner Amber Concepcion grew up in State College, but relocated to Washington, D.C., for graduate school before returning to the area. She can attest to how her work-life balance improved moving back.
“Because you’re not spending so much time commuting, you’re able to spend more time with your kids and more time getting involved in the community. You’re not losing the two hours per day that we spent commuting. It really adds up over time. It’s 10 hours a week,” she said.
Gen Z is really reassessing what’s valuable and important to them and they’re demanding and looking for work-life balance.
Those benefits extend to families and their children, as Concepcion explained: “Then, there’s so much more that your kids can do, because it doesn’t take so long to get from place to place. There’s so much concentrated in Centre County — opportunities for kids to get involved in various sports, music and arts activities without having to drive a long distance.”
Greg Scott, president and CEO of the Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County, who also grew up in Centre County before moving then returning to the area, said the same.
“I've been in the workforce for 35 years and work-life balance is important to me. In this role, I've been able to find it a little better and I've been more disciplined about it than I have in the past,” he said. “[There are] a couple other factors. One, I have a 10-minute commute. If I need to run home to let the dog out at noon and spend a little time at home or with my wife, I can do that. This area provides the opportunity [for work-life balance] if you're disciplined about it.”
Of course, while work-life balance is easy to achieve in Happy Valley there’s still a responsibility on the employer. But if they prioritize this balance, they’ll reap the rewards, including fewer employee sick days, less burnout, higher morale, greater employee satisfaction and less turnover.
“Studies show you also get better employee mental health. We see these rising rates of mental health issues among Gen Zers and millennials, but if you offer a more flexible, caring work environment that values the home part of an employee, and thinks of them as a whole person, you get better employee mental health and you get higher energy and higher engagement with the job,” Staley added. “And those companies that have employees interacting with company clients, they’ll see better results. They see the results of the higher morale being passed on, with more positive interactions with clients and then the clients and consumers reporting greater satisfaction, too.”
Have you experienced a better work-life balance since moving to Happy Valley? Or, do you strive to ensure your employees enjoy work-life balance? Tell us about it, at email@example.com.