Grant Misterly, senior project manager at an ENR top 10 engineering firm, says leaders can cultivate commitment while embracing a different way of working. “I believe that commitment to one another and the personal relationships on a team are an important part of a wellness culture,” Misterly says. “Focusing on the wellness of the team so that the whole team stays happy and motivated and energized—even during stressful work periods—that’s what I aim for,” he says.

Family, Flexibility and Fairness

Family time is a piece of this, and that’s why Perkins + Will has adopted paid parental leave to include time off for mothers, fathers and domestic partners for new birth, adoption and foster care. “It goes beyond healthcare benefits to provide a workplace culture that sends a strong message that we care about the whole person,” says Brown.

But it’s also time to let go of the bravado around putting in long hours at the office. Younger professionals are more focused on doing the work than being seen at work. They expect to leverage technology to their benefit, have flexibility in their schedule—and many are willing to rethink their career choices to make time for family or personal passions.

Misterly, who credits his workplace managers with embracing flexible work styles, had his own turning point recently. He turned down a great career-building opportunity because of the geographic moves, stress and travel it would entail. “I very much enjoy my job, but I also have an active family and community life, and that’s just as important to me,” he says.

Millennials, especially, have a changing mentality about working hard and moving up. According to “The Millennial Leadership Study,” by, 91% aspire to leadership roles, and half of those are women. But nearly 30% are not willing to sacrifice their life balance or flexibility for the job.

“I get emails from junior staffers at 9, 10, 12 at night,” says Misterly. “They’re engaged and they are working hard. They’re just not at the office. I also have a seasoned engineer who comes in early, works a 10-hour day, and then turns off work. The project manager who leaves at 5 may have worked this weekend so that he can attend his child’s soccer game that evening. If you’re working hard and producing, it is going to be evident in what you accomplish, so you need to manage people individually and be flexible.”

The opportunity for innovative firms is this: sustainability, wellness and balance are not just buzzwords. They’re the new world of work. If you want to attract and cultivate the most talented professionals, and grow your business, it’s time to embrace them.

Is it time for a sea change in our work culture? How can firms evolve to work smarter and attract the best talent? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Rich Friedman, president of Friedman & Partners in Wayland, Mass., has extensive experience in strategic market planning, market research and analysis, PR and positioning strategy, and business development consulting and training for technical and marketing professionals.