2022 Grads Say Work-Life Balance More Important Due to Pandemic

89% of graduates say work-life balance is important to them, according to a new BestColleges survey.

Updated July 20, 2022

2022 Grads Say Work-Life Balance More Important Due to Pandemic

  • 74% of 2022 college graduates believe that achieving work-life balance takes effort from both employees and employers.
  • 65% of graduates are confident in their post-grad plans, despite 63% experiencing pandemic-related impacts to their original intentions.
  • 66% of those graduating feel their program prepared them for the workforce.
  • 65% of graduates who have found a job or plan to continue working in their current job will be working in their field of study.

College graduates are seeking work-life balance in their careers more than ever. In a new BestColleges survey of 431 college students who have graduated or will graduate in 2022 with a bachelor's or associate degree, 69% say that the circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have increased the importance of work-life balance.

Out of graduates who say work-life balance is important (89%), a majority (54%) say that a flexible work schedule is necessary to achieve it.

About half of these graduates also say factors like health insurance coverage (53%) and wellness benefits (46%) are necessary to achieve this balance.

Other factors graduates say are necessary include hybrid work options like working from home some days and in an office other days (37%), remote work options (34%), adequate or unlimited paid time off (31%), and inclusive benefits like on-site childcare or employee resource groups (30%).

Female graduates who say work-life balance is important are significantly more likely than male graduates to also say a flexible work schedule (60% vs. 48%) and wellness benefits (52% vs. 40%) are necessary factors.

Definition of Work-Life Balance: achieving the desired amount of time spent doing your job and doing things you enjoy/with family.

This definition was provided to survey participants.

Graduates Say Time Management, Self-Care, and Detachment From Work Necessary for Work-Life Balance

When it comes to the personal factors graduates consider necessary for their own work-life balance, the majority of those who value work-life balance selected time management (66%) and engaging in self-care (65%).

Graduates of predominantly white institutions (PWIs) are significantly more likely than graduates of minority-serving institutions (MSIs) to say that the personal factors listed above are necessary for their work-life balance.

Minority-serving institutions are colleges and universities that support communities that have been historically excluded from accessing higher education. MSIs include historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), Hispanic-serving institutions, Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-serving institutions, and Tribal colleges or universities.

Almost Half of Graduates Think Employers Should Demonstrate Work-Life Balance

Nearly three-quarters of graduates (74%) believe that achieving work-life balance takes effort from both employee and employer. Further, just under half of graduates (45%) say that employers should demonstrate a healthy work-life balance.

Graduates also believe employers should provide health insurance coverage (53%), a flexible work schedule (50%), and wellness benefits (44%).

White graduates are significantly more likely than their BIPOC peers to say employers should provide health insurance coverage (59% vs. 47%) and adequate or unlimited paid time off (41% vs. 30%). They also were more likely to say that work-life balance should be demonstrated by company/organization leaders (50% vs. 40%).

Graduates of PWIs are similarly more likely than graduates of MSIs to say employers should provide health insurance coverage (64% vs. 40%), adequate or unlimited paid time off (45% vs. 23%), inclusive benefits (45% vs. 28%), and wellness benefits (51% vs. 36%). They were also more likely to say that work-life balance should be demonstrated by company/organization leaders (53% vs. 35%).

Graduates Took More Time to Finish Their Degree Due to the Pandemic

Graduates' experience during COVID-19 affected more than just their perceptions of the importance of work-life balance. A majority (78%) agree their postsecondary education has been impacted or disrupted by the pandemic.

Because of the circumstances caused by the pandemic, over half of graduates changed their original education and/or career plans (63%). Some of these changes include the amount of time it took them to finish their degree (33%), their desired job post-graduation (27%), or their major/field of study (25%).

Just under a quarter of graduates (24%) say they delayed plans to continue their education, while just over a fifth of graduates (21%) say they decided to continue their education due to the pandemic.

Graduates Are Confident in Their Post-Grad Plans

Despite numerous unexpected changes graduates endured due to the pandemic, the majority (65%) say they are confident in their current post-graduation plans.

Exactly two-thirds of graduates (66%) also say their bachelor's or associate degree program has prepared them to participate in the workforce. This is a 15 percentage point increase when compared to last year's study (51%).

Graduates of PWIs are significantly more likely to say they are confident in their current post-graduation plans than graduates of MSIs (71% vs. 59%). However, white graduates and BIPOC graduates are almost equally as likely to say they are confident in their post-grad plans (65% vs. 66%).

Most graduates (43%) say they plan to find a job immediately after completing their degree or have already found a job. Equal percentages of graduates say they will take/took time off after graduating or will continue/have continued with further education (18%).

When compared to 2021 graduates, this year's graduates are three times more likely to say they are taking time off immediately after graduation (18% vs. 6%) and significantly less likely to say they plan to continue with further education after graduation (18% vs. 39%).

For graduates who plan to find a job or will continue working in their current one, 65% say they currently have a job in their field of study or will be employed in their field of study after graduating.

BIPOC graduates who plan to find a job or continue working their current job post-graduation are slightly more likely than white graduates to say they currently have a job in their field or study or will be employed in their field of study after graduating (69% vs. 61%).

Methodology

The survey was conducted from May 31-June 3, 2022. Student respondents were fielded by Lucid LLC. Survey participants included 431 first-time undergraduate students who have or will graduate in 2022 with a bachelor's or associate degree. Respondents were 18-25 years of age. The respondents for the survey were screened by various quality checks, including systems like Relevant ID, and responses were manually reviewed to ensure consistency and accuracy.