There are two kinds of people in this world: splitters and blenders.
- Splitters prefer to have clear boundaries between their work and personal time.
- Blenders prefer to mix work and personal time, moving fluidly between the two throughout the day.
Gallup finds that it’s about a 50/50 split between splitters and blenders among the working population. These different work styles can be a source of interpersonal conflict: Splitters may drive blenders crazy when they don’t answer work emails or phone calls outside of work hours. Blenders may drive splitters crazy when they take care of personal tasks during work hours.
But the truth is that both blenders and splitters can be engaged at work and productive -- if leaders consider their work styles.
Leaders Underestimate Splitters
Gallup recently asked our roundtable of Fortune 500 CHROs which work style they thought their employees preferred. They expected only 24% of their white-collar workers to be splitters, when in fact, 45% preferred a splitter work style. When it came to production/front-line employees, CHROs thought 54% of their employees would be splitters. In reality, 62% preferred a splitter work style.
In both cases, leaders overestimated the number of blenders in their organizations.
This blind spot has real-world consequences for getting work done in an organization. When employees are mismatched with their preferred work style, they are:
- less likely to feel they are treated with respect
- less likely to be engaged
- more likely to be burnt out at work
- more likely to be looking for a new job
Work-Life Balance or Work-Life Boundaries?
Successful leaders may naturally feel that their work style is the best option because it works for them. They might also assume that’s how the people around them prefer to work.
One takeaway from Gallup’s finding is that leaders could be underestimating the number of their employees who want a more structured 9-to-5 routine, dedicated focus time and to know exactly when they are working or not. Leaders may need to be more understanding of those who prefer clear work boundaries.
But an even better approach is this: Ask. Leaders should ask team members how they prefer to work. Are they splitters or blenders? Knowing this can help leaders decrease interpersonal friction while getting more work done.