Workers' ability to juggle the demands of the office and home is on the upswing, with those in charge greatly aiding the cause, new research suggests.

In the Robert Half Management Resources survey, the majority of professionals (52%) said their work-life balance has improved from three years ago.

Nine in 10 respondents (91%) reported their manager is very or somewhat supportive of their efforts to achieve this balance, and 74% said their boss sets a good or even excellent example.

The outlook is notably rosy among one group in particular—the youngest workers.

  • Professionals between the ages of 18 and 34 were more than twice as likely as those 55 or older to cite improved work-life balance (67% versus 31%).
  • Sixty-two percent of younger workers reported their manager is very supportive of their efforts to achieve work-life balance, compared to 50% of the oldest respondents and 47% of those 35 to 54.
  • Nearly eight in 10 (79%) of 18 to 34 year olds said their manager sets an excellent or good example.

"Employers and employees alike are emphasizing work-life balance," says Tim Hird, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources.

"Managers can help by giving their teams more freedom over where and when they work, if possible, and providing greater autonomy. These efforts go a long way to improve job satisfaction and retention rates."

Hird sounded a word of caution.

"Many companies view work-life balance as being particularly relevant to millennials, but employees of all generations are under pressure to meet both work and personal obligations," he says.

"Businesses should promote work-life balance initiatives broadly and make sure all staff have the opportunity to weigh in on the perks that will best help them meet their goals."

Tips for Managers

Robert Half Management Resources provides five tips for managers to help their teams achieve work-life balance:

  • Understand employees' needs. Talk to your staff about their objectives and what you can do to help. Where one employee may benefit from working remotely a couple days, another may seek starting and ending his or her day 30 minutes earlier. Remain flexible and open-minded as you assist your team.
  • Show them the way. Are you sending emails at all times of the day and night, or are most of your communications delivered during work hours? Do you use your weekends to pursue personal goals or demand updated financial reports? Whichever options you choose, your staff are taking note—and figuring they must do the same.
  • Spread the word. Employers commonly highlight their work-life balance offerings to job candidates, but you'll need to continue selling your company's program to current staff. Regularly and broadly communicate options available to workers.
  • Stay ahead of the pack. Views on work-life balance change, and what is in vogue today may not have the same appeal six months or a year from now. Stay on top of emerging trends to keep your program fresh and ensure you provide in-demand benefits.

    About the research: The survey was developed by Robert Half Management Resources and conducted by an independent research firm. It includes responses from more than 1,000 U.S. workers 18 years of age or older and employed in office environments.