The number one thing your workers most want is work-life balance. And a new report shows it is the thing they are least likely to get, as workers around the globe increasingly struggle to juggle the demands of work and the rest of life.

The Ernst & Young report published Tuesday, based on a survey of 9,699 employed adults around the world, found that people complain about ever-longer hours, disappointing raises, and a lack of flexibility among their employers, especially when the employees have children.

"Knowing that millennials and parents are under increasing pressure, we wanted to understand what employees seek in a job — why they quit, why they stay and how this differs by generation," said the authors of the study.

Here are some of the key findings:  

  • Work-life balance is harder worldwide. Approximately half (46%) of managers globally are working more than 40- hour weeks, and four in 10 say their hours have increased over the past five years.
  • Why people are quitting their Jobs. The top five reasons people quit their jobs are: minimal wage growth, lack of opportunity to advance, excessive overtime hours, a work environment that does not encourage teamwork and a boss that doesn’t allow you to work flexibly.
  • People want flexibility. Being able to work flexibly and still be on track for promotion is very important.
  • Managing work and family responsibilities for US Millennials is proving difficult. Millennials (78%) are almost twice as likely to have a spouse/partner working at least full-time than Boomers (47%). Consequently, “Finding time for me” is the most prevalent challenge faced by millennial parents who are managers in the US (76%) followed by “getting enough sleep” and “managing personal and professional life” (67%).

The economy plays a big part in this obviously. Professional workers in companies that shed employees during the recession are still doing the work of two or more people and working longer hours. Salaries have stagnated, and costs continue to rise.

The "empathy gap"

“I really see that there’s an empathy gap in the workplace,” said Karyn Twaronite, EY global-diversity and inclusiveness officer, in this article in The Washington Post. “When there’s frustration about work-life balance in the workplace, and you think your boss doesn’t get it, that very likely could be true. ”

Millennials, that group of workers that we read about all the time that companies are trying hard to attract and retain, are the most dissatisfied according to multiple surveys, including this latest one. 

Ernst & Young says about 62% of millennials are managers. Yet that timing coincides with another big life event for many young employees: having children. 

"U.S. millennials are likely taking on more responsibility—as both parents and managers—at the same time," the report said.

Partly as a result of that, what they most want is flexibility in terms of where, when and how they work. Yet they say their employers don't offer flexible schedules, they are unhappy with the parental leave and maternity policies, and are discriminated against by older bosses who think if they're not in the office they're not working. 

Check this statistic out. Nearly 40% percent of young workers, male or female, in the United States are so unhappy with the lack of paid parental-leave policies that they say they would be willing to move to another country.

“A figure like that certainly shifts the conversation from paid parental-leave being a ‘nice to have’ to being a ‘need to have’ for companies,” Twaronite said to the Post

The article cites the U.S. as the only developed country in the world with no formal paid parental-leave policy. In fact, only 9% of companies offered fully paid maternity-leave benefits to workers in 2014, down from 16% in 2008, according to the Families and Work Institute’s National Study of Employers. 

For spouses and partners, 14% of U.S. companies offer paid leave, either partially or fully paid, down from 16% in 2008.

The institute found that the share of employers offering reduced hours and career flexibility also has fallen and that flexible work options are not available to all employees, but only to certain groups, such as parents.

“Wanting flexibility or work-life balance is the number one thing we hear all the time from candidates," says Heidi Parsont, a recruiter in Virginia. "It’s the number one reason why people are looking for a new job, by far. We’re definitely seeing more candidates asking for it. But companies still see it as making an exception. It’s still not the norm.”

Tags: Recruiting, Millennials, Work-life balance, Ernst & Young Generations, Parental leave policies