When the clock strikes 5 or 6, do you clock out and shut down the laptop or use that time to dive deeper into a project after taking a long lunch to pick up some groceries? Many studies say people fall into either of those two groups — splitters or blenders — impacting how we perform and what we want from work.

Understanding splitters and blenders can help you build out your workday or team activities and requirements to keep people happy at work.

The workforce is evenly split between splitters and blenders.

Data notes that the overall workforce is split pretty evenly between blenders and splitters, so you’ll want to learn how to support each work style.

For us at Hubstaff, that typically means considering the nature of work for remote and hybrid teams. These teams can have higher employee engagement and efficiency than their in-office counterparts, but they also experience higher levels of stress and frustration. 

Addressing these concerns requires leaders to tailor solutions to splitters and blenders. That might mean looking for places of overlap to support both groups or finding a single solution for each separately. 

Matching your workplace to employees’ preferred work-life blend and work styles can make all the difference in how well your team performs.

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Defining splitters

Most people who look at the distinction between splitters and blenders get their framework from Gallup’s polling, so we’ll stick with their latest definitions and polling.

Splitters are people who prefer a job that is the typical “9 to 5” where there is a clear distinction between work and personal time. These folks embrace boundaries, and while they have to have a work-life balance, they do so without mixing the two. 

That’s the core element that makes them different from blenders, who have work and life blend like a life smoothie.

Characteristics of splitters

Splitters have a variety of characteristics and preferences that will help you spot them and learn how to tailor work to suit their needs. Some of the biggest ones include:

  • Strong preference for a strict schedule of working hours and location requirements
  • Less inclined to have work elements, such as email, on personal devices
  • A strong distaste for being asked to work outside of standard hours, such as nights or weekends
  • React negatively to any intrusion of work into home spaces where work is unexpected
  • May thrive in office, remote, or hybrid work environments but prefer a dedicated workspace
  • Strong preference for disconnecting from all work outside of standard hours
  • May show a preference for established, recurring schedules, even for shift work
  • More common in production and front-line jobs
  • Slightly less likely to report signs of burnout or to be looking for a new job compared to blenders
  • Require separation to be focused and creative

Many of these elements will feel at home in any conversation about managing work, life, and mental health. When you’re working with a splitter, it’s essential to understand and respect their boundaries. 

Managers need to set boundaries that are appropriate for their office. While it’s not okay to demand someone work after hours or off the clock, you can set expectations that someone is in the office or available at certain times. Employer boundaries can also include work locations, such as someone being able to work at home or a coffee shop but not at bars or a nail salon.

people working in different ways and scenarios at the same time

Their work-life balance approach

Work-life balance is a top consideration for how splitters work. They want work squarely in its own bucket with defined rules and edges. And the same goes for life.

So, your splitters may be uncomfortable with any requests that blur these lines. They’ll recoil at requests to work late or being punished for not answering an email or phone call at night. At the same time, they may also be uncomfortable with requests for their home or social life brought up at work.

Splitters may want to refrain from talking about their weekend, sharing photos of their spouse or children in Slack channels, or answering quizzes about their favorite music or movies. That isn’t to say splitters never will; they’re more receptive when these are optional and can share as they feel comfortable.

Your splitters may also feel more discomfort with stepping away from work unexpectedly to address a family or home concern. Even an unexpected doorbell ring for a remote splitter may cause them frustration.

Any forced blending of work and life, or mandated encroachment on time in either direction, can impact how the splitter views their work-life boundaries.

Benefits of being a splitter

Splitters will have more benefits in their lives associated with solid boundaries. These staff will have advantages around separating work and personal time. However, it’s good to remember that these are guidelines.

Broadly speaking, here are some general benefits of working like a splitter:

  • Take more ownership of personal mental and physical health
  • Firm boundaries create a sense of security in both work and home lives
  • Increased job satisfaction
  • Less likely to feel pressured to look for other work
  • Increased protection and resilience against burnout and workplace stress
  • Less likely to feel “exploited” at work
  • Stronger sense of respect for self and others
  • Setting boundaries requires self-awareness that may promote greater growth personally and professionally
  • Improved conflict management skills due to adequately understanding and setting boundaries
  • Greater empathy for co-workers and leadership
  • Baby boomers prefer splitting
A breakdown of splitters and blenders by job type using Gallup data

Defining blenders

Blenders are the opposite of splitters regarding work boundaries, blending the two parts of their lives into one overlapping concoction. There doesn’t need to be a clear line between work and home, but don’t take that as an invitation to make unreasonable demands. 

Blenders are more willing to be flexible with work requests but are easier to push into dissatisfaction or lower engagement.

Blenders move fluidly between work and private lives, so their peaks may differ from a standard 9 to 5. Some blenders will get into the office or fire up the home PC earlier than the rest of your team to get work done. Night owl blenders may start their day later or take a mid-day nap but make up for that with hours that push later into the evening.

Your blender is willing to take a phone call at night or answer that 1 am email, but they also feel it’s okay to run an errand or tackle a personal concern during work hours.

Like any adult in the workforce, blenders need at least some performance metrics to be about projects and output, not just hours counted in a chair.

Characteristics of blenders

Mixing that professional and personal life creates an exciting mix of people in the standard blender. Here are some common characteristics:

  • More likely to be a younger professional
  • More likely to be white-collar employees compared to blue-collar
  • Experience higher rates of burnout and disengagement
  • More likely to look for work when a discomfort arises
  • Higher levels of flexibility within roles and willingness to tackle new projects
  • Respond to more dynamic situations
  • They may be viewed as more “reliable” due to their willingness to address serious issues
  • Respond more positively to flexible hours and results-oriented metrics
  • Greater adaptability to project or task changes
  • Older Millennials tend to prefer mixing or blending

Benefits of being a blender

So, when we look at preferred work styles, it’s easy to see some of the benefits from a company perspective. Blenders are more likely to work through to a task or project’s completion in fewer sittings because they will work longer hours or may jump in early/late to accomplish things with fewer distractions.

(A side note is that distractions are a big issue for every team. As Hubstaff research points out, however, remote teams face substantially less. That’s a great combination when remote workers prefer blending, doubling up on methods that minimize distractions.)

There are benefits for the employees, too. Here are a few things to consider where you are a blender or you’ve got them on your team:

  • Place a high value on work flexibility, covering hours and locations
  • More willing to work non-traditional shifts or times
  • Experience less frustration or anger due to irregular work demands
  • Boundaries are flexible, so they require more guidelines around appropriate workplace behaviors and locations
  • More motivated to reach stretch goals that may require additional time
  • Slightly more likely to be looking for a new job or be open to new offers
  • They might be a blender due to responsibilities, such as caring for young children or caregiving for family members
  • More resilient in environments with shifting demands
  • Engage in more creativity during work hours because of the ability to shift hours

A blender is more inclined to put in extra effort when extending hours. However, this comes with an increased expectation for rewards and recognition. 

Blenders may view work flexibility as a requirement, not a perk. This means recognition programs, benefits, and other bonuses may be more costly or have more extensive packages to generate appropriate levels of recognition.

Challenges faced by splitters and blenders

Common splitter challengesCommon blender challenges
Late-night hours, calls, or emails harm employee engagementDealing with days where work hours must be consecutive
May be seen as lacking motivationRoles with rigid hours and attendance
Not always as driven by existing company benefits, such as professional developmentMay be seen as having high absenteeism even if working a full week due to varying hours
May be resistant to company and workplace culture, harming inclusionTasks with time limits and precise instructions or recipes
Easily frustrated by perceptions of others not meeting requirementsMay struggle with interpersonal conflict resolution structures
Work-life balance is easily disruptedHighly manual tasks
Requires a rigid structure that may limit creativity or innovationCan struggle with managing time, including tracking time
Can struggle with peer relationships by staying out of workplace cultureMay not receive recognition at consistent levels
Forced work-life-blending such as icebreakers or “about you” discussionsFinding mental or location breaks during busy times

The importance of working how you prefer

How well leaders understand their employees' work styles

When Gallup’s researchers expanded on this idea for the Harvard Business Review, they pointed out that the most significant threat occurs when employees can’t work how they prefer. 

Company leaders should develop solutions and options for people to meet their needs, protecting mental health and productivity. Getting it wrong, such as trying to force a splitter personality into a blender role, directly impacts job satisfaction, stress, and tenure.

The risk of treating everyone the same is that you drive blenders crazy, drive splitters crazy, or harm both. 

Workers are more likely to look for a new job and feel burnt out when their work style doesn't align with their job

The core takeaway for leaders

When you think about splitters and blenders, the biggest challenge isn’t whether one preferred work style is better than another for your workplace. The genuine concern for managers is when they can’t tell the difference in styles of their team members.

Leaders must be able to discern blenders from splitters and adapt accordingly.

There are many ways to do this, and Hubstaff Insights can simplify the process. Our advanced time tracking tools and workforce analytics make it easy to see when people clock time and look for patterns across the weeks. That way, you know you’re segmenting your team based on long-term habits, not just a week when your splitters were flexible to help or when blenders had extra meetings that required a rigid schedule.

You can start with Hubstaff’s free 14-day trial on our packages, including those with Insights. It’s enough time to start measuring your people and ensure you’re giving splitters and blenders precisely what they need.

Category: Workforce Management