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Splitters and Blenders: Two Different Relationships With Work

Splitters and Blenders: Two Different Relationships With Work

Story Highlights

  • Half of U.S. workers want to blend work and life -- the other half don’t
  • Both kinds of employees can be engaged at work with thriving wellbeing
  • Not knowing which employees are which could lead to disengagement or burnout

Consider how you might answer this question:

In your best life imaginable, would you prefer a job that is 9 to 5 where work and life are separated, or one where work and life are more blended throughout the day?

Those who choose the former are work-life splitters and those who choose the latter are work-life blenders. Among workers in the U.S., there is a dead-even, 50-50 split between the two preferences. That seems surprising given the massive increase in hybrid work, where work and life are more blended than ever for most jobs.  

As organizations are deciding when and where people work, it is imperative they know which of their employees are splitters and which are blenders. 

Imagine managing someone and not knowing which type of employee they are. 


Splitters might work best at home or in the office but want to maintain a strict schedule of hours in each location. Blenders might get work done on a weekend or evening, or early in the morning before the office opens.  

Now imagine leading a team where team members don’t know who among their group are splitters and who are blenders. 

Splitters are more common in production jobs -- but even 41% of employees in production jobs have a blender mindset. For most other job types, the divide is close to 50-50.  


Predictably, on-site workers are more likely to be splitters at 61%, but 39% of those workers still have a blender’s mentality. And though six in 10 hybrid and remote workers prefer blending, there are still four in 10 who prefer splitting their time between work and life.

Gen Z and young millennials are equally divided between splitters and blenders. Older millennials tend to prefer blending work and life. As workers get older, they lean more toward wanting to split work and life -- but 45% of baby boomers prefer the work-life blend.  


When Gallup studied the outcomes of those who prefer splitting work and life or blending the two, we found the percentage of engaged employees was essentially equal -- as was their overall level of thriving. Both of these work-life preferences can be productive and fulfilling.

Blenders (53%) are more likely than splitters (48%) to be looking for another job, presenting a slightly greater challenge for retaining these employees. Blenders (32%) were also slightly more likely to report burnout in comparison to splitters (29%).

Managers need to ask employees on their teams what their best life imaginable looks like. Are they splitters or blenders? For example, do they mind getting emails on weekends or during off hours, or do they thrive on being constantly in the loop? Does it feel intrusive when their home life is disrupted by the office, or do they see work and life as seamless? 

The reality is that both types of employees can be highly engaged and productive. But not knowing which is which could lead to lower engagement, feelings of disrespect and more burnout for all. 

Craft a hybrid strategy that gives employees what they need to perform at their best:


Jim Harter, Ph.D., is Chief Scientist, Workplace for Gallup and bestselling author of Culture Shock, Wellbeing at Work, It's the Manager, 12: The Elements of Great Managing and Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements. His research is also featured in the groundbreaking New York Times bestseller, First, Break All the Rules. Dr. Harter has led more than 1,000 studies of workplace effectiveness, including the largest ongoing meta-analysis of human potential and business-unit performance. His work has also appeared in many publications, including Harvard Business Review, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, and in many prominent academic journals.

Sangeeta Agrawal contributed analysis to this article.

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