The paper 'The Importance of Work-life Balance' is a great example of a Management Assignment. Work-life balance refers to the process of prioritizing between career and life commitments. Life commitments may include health issues, pleasure, family matters, and spiritual matters, all of which are necessary for meaningful enjoyment of life. Bakker, Demerouti, and Euwema (2005) have defined work-life balance as the compatibility and harmony of private life and working life. They have also explained that work-life balance does not mean scheduling an equal number of hours between each of the various work activities and personal activities, which can actually be more unrewarding and unrealistic.
Instead, it means giving the right attention to each activity. Usually, an individual employee’ s work-life balance will vary over time depending on one’ s position in career and personal lives. The need for effective work-life balance in organizations is essential. A number of research studies (Bowen & Ford, 2002; Guthrie, 2001) on the topic have reported a number of benefits such as the ability to attract new employees and retain highly and productive staff, reduced absenteeism, improved morale, and job satisfaction, decreased stress and burn out and enhanced work relationships among others.
In any industry, employers are becoming increasingly aware of the hefty cost implications associated with unmotivated and overworked employees such as reduced production, high operation costs, chronic absenteeism, and decreased morale. As such, companies have resorted to work-life balance programs as an incentive for improved employee commitment and hence increased organizational performance. Importance of Work-Life Balance Programs The concept of work-life balance is based on the notion that personal life and paid work life should be seen more as complementary elements of meaningful life than as competing priorities (Van Dyne, Kossek & Lobel, 2007).
It is, therefore, important for employees to implement appropriate programs that can afford employees the right to request flexible work arrangements and to promote equality of opportunities to ensure that the staff is not disadvantaged in the workplace. The following are the main aspects in which work-life balance contributes positively to employees and organizations. Strengthening of employee loyalty and productivity: Work-life balance is all about developing and maintaining supportive and healthy work practices, which will enable employees to strike the right balance between personal and career responsibilities.
The programs help strengthen employee loyalty, which in turn leads to improved productivity. According to a research study in the topic by Guthrie (2001) employees are likely to experience increased job satisfaction when they are given opportunities to attend to their personal issues while at the same time maintaining a stead control of their career commitments. Van Dyne, Kossek & Lobel, (2007) have further explained that one in every four employees experience high levels of conflict between family and work based on caregiver strains and family-to-work interferences, hence the important role played by work-life balance programs.
Work-life balance programs are also a good mechanism for reducing work absenteeism and increasing a company’ s ability to retain and motivate high performing and experienced employees. Recognition of employee family and other personal challenges: Research studies have hailed work-life balance arrangements as an important recognition of the difficulties that employees may have. These difficulties may lead to reduced productivity and cause problems in balancing personal commitments and job obligations (Heraty, Morley & Cleveland, 2008).
One of the major factors that influence work-life conflicts is the amount of time an employee spends at the workplace. In fact, the high levels of work-family conflicts reported by employees are as a result of long working hours. Work-life balance programs attempt to reduce the amount of time that employees spend in work so as to reduce these conflicts (Harel, Tzafrir & Baruch, 2003). Schuster, Dunning, Morden, Hagan, Baker, and McKay (1997) have explained in their article that work-life balance has become a critical issue for human resource heads in many organizations in recent years.
The importance of this issue arises from the need for employees to make necessary changes in their work programs so as to attend to personal needs. For this reason, human resource people in many organizations across countries are trying to make policies that can support the balance between work and personal lives of employees. This can help increase the retention of valuable workers. Guthrie (2001) recommends that organizations should take care of the changing needs and roles of their employees and make necessary changes in the manner in which they do their businesses.
Moreover, it is in the benefit of organizations to make their work arrangements more flexible so as to make employees comfortable and more loyal. In the long run, this has the effect of increasing the commitment and morale of employees, which helps to decrease levels of work-related stress. Involvement of employees in decision making: Designing effective work-life balance programs requires input from employees. This means that employees are involved in decision-making. Employee involvement in decision making helps improve employee motivation and morale.
In today’ s fast-paced business societies, organizations seek options that can positively impact on bottom-lines of their businesses, improve employee morale and help attract employees who can keep pace with workplace trends (Bakker, Demerouti & Euwema, 2005). Improved workplace communication: Work-life balance help improve workplace communication (Guthrie, 2001). Improved communication not only strengthens employee commitment but also gives employees the ability to handle situations that lead to work-related stress and conflicts. Additionally, flexible work programs provide a way for companies to court and increase employee loyalty without having to make fundamental changes in their employee management programs.
As such, work-life balance programs can have a positive impact on employee productivity. Good communication in organizations fosters positive interpersonal relationships and hence makes employees to be motivated, productive, and contented with their jobs. (Baltes, Briggs, Huff, Wright & Neuman, 1999). Improvement of stress and time management: In his book, Harel, Tzafrir, and Baruch, (2003) have explained that creating work-life balance can be beneficial in time and stress management. It is a known fact that a high number of illnesses occur in workplaces when employees are forced to work under pressure.
However, work-life balance programs such as flextime arrangements offer opportunities for employees to work under minimum pressure and attend to family and social issues, which are essential in stress management. Regarding time management, employees often face difficulties getting involved in many competing activities. Carving out time for personal and work duties is extremely important. Flexible work programs help employees program their activities in ways that make them face responsibilities with renewed energy and a sense of purpose (Arthur, 2003). Factors That Should Be Considered When Designing and Implementing an Effective Work-Life Balance Program Clear communication, supportive organizational culture, reciprocal support between employees, and the management and teamwork are an important factor in the success of work-life balance initiatives.
Essentially, work-life balance is a state of well-being that enables employees to effectively manage multiple responsibilities at work and at home. The ability to set the right balance between personal and work responsibilities differs greatly between organizations and as such, several factors have to be considered when implementing these programs to ensure that the outcomes are beneficial to both the employer and employees.
Heraty, Morley, and Cleveland, (2008) have noted that no matter how many options are available or which flexible work program has executed the duties, deadlines and expectations must be clearly outlined and agreed upon by the employees and their supervisors. Management support is an important factor to be considered when impending work-life balance programs. Gray (2002) asserts that the ability of a work-life balance program to meet the business needs of the employer is the main consideration for implementing them. For this reason, human resource heads should tailor work-life policies to suit the organization’ s particular needs and promote the organization’ s corporate culture while giving opportunities for employees to pursue their private lives in a meaningful manner.
As with any other employee welfare program, work-life programs should promote organizational sustainability. The program should not take away resources or distract the management’ s attention from addressing other issues of organizational concern. It is important for an organization to consider whether it has enough employees to deliver on its objectives and goals. Staff turnover is a major cost implication for organizations that implement work-life programs.
Therefore, measures that help improve attraction and retention of employees while at the same time reducing staff turnover costs are important considerations for meaningful work-life policies (Black & Lynch, 2001). In an article by Arthur (2003), it is noted that being part of a competitive workforce involves the implementation of appropriate work-life balance policies, which can help retain employees with pressing private needs. It is equally important for human resource managers to identify issues relating to policy implementation, which may impact on effective implementation of work-life programs.
These issues include a lack of adequate knowledge of how policies influence employee behaviors. In addition, it is of considerable importance for managers to gain an enhanced understanding of the difficulties that may arise due to the implementation of work-life programs (Bowen & Ford, 2002). Moreover, in order for work-life balance policies to be effective and produce the desired results, employees should be able to use them. A research study by Black and Lynch (2001) shows that while organizations may implement various work-life balance programs, they often experience difficulties implementing the policies due to lack of communication and training of employees.
In some cases, the management fails to develop the necessary infrastructure for aligning work-life policies with corporate culture. In implementing work-life balance programs, it is important for managers to identify ways of reducing employee workload. The heavy workload is an important factor that causes conflicts between work and private life commitments. In light of this consideration, it is imperative to involve employees in making decisions about the programs. It is equally important for the management to make alternative work arrangements available for employees.
These may include flextime or the opportunity for employees to telecommute. Gray (2002) has noted that it is essential for employees to be given the opportunity to say “ no” when they feel they are overworked. Working under stress can cause stress, which is counter-productivity to employee’ s personal and career objectives. Other important factors that should be considered when implementing work-life balance programs are: Initial start-up cost and subsequent administrative expenses. Workload management. Ability to meet customer demands in a timely manner. The impact of employee presence on teamwork and organization performance. Impact of the program on terms and conditions of work (in most cases, leave benefits may be prorated). Careful consideration of the above factors will help companies reap the competitive advantages that are associated with work-life balance programs.
As Heraty, Morley, and Cleveland, (2008) have noted that the single most cited reason for introducing flexible work arrangements is employing retention. Indeed, many companies contend that recent trends towards flexible work programs have made it necessary to introduce employee-friendly work programs or risk losing valued employees.
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