Work-Life Balance A challenge and its solution

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Work-Life Balance

A challenge and its solution

(Research Scholar)

ABSTRACT

In today’s fast paced economy, the jobs are becoming more challenging and demanding. To fulfill the requirements of the job and to achieve the targets of the job, the people are struggling very hard and yet they come up short. In the want of performing better on the job, the people have to forego their personal life. This leads to the situation of work-life imbalance. In the recent time, the situation of work-life imbalance has raised several questions for the Human Resource Management. It is a challenge for the Human Resource Management of an organization. The HRM has to find out the ways to bring the balance back in the work-life. This article talks about the meaning of Work-Life Balance, cause of imbalance, consequences of imbalance and also suggests the remedies to remove the imbalance.

Introduction:

In today’s fast paced economy, the jobs are becoming more challenging and demanding. To fulfill the requirements of the job and to achieve the targets of the job, the people are struggling very hard and yet they come up short. In the want of performing better on the job, the people have to forego their personal life. Today, it happens that an employee has to spend hours and hours in the office with his/her staff members but the same person does not have time to spend at home with the family members. A person has to attend a business meeting compulsorily but he/she cannot spare time for the family function or a social occasion. A teacher teaching in the private school or a lecturer in a private college has to go on the picnic with the students, but the same person cannot have time to go on outing with his/her children. What do all these situations suggest? Obviously, all these are the situations of work-life imbalance. In the recent time, the situation of work-life imbalance has raised several questions for the Human Resource Management. In the state of imbalance the, employees’ productivity goes down, their performance become poor, they become the prey of stress, they feel dizziness, they feel boredom on the job, they tend to shirk, they sometime feel irritating on the job, their absenteeism increases and sometimes they fall ill. All these are the adverse effects of work-life imbalance. Of course, this is a harmful situation for an organization. It is a challenge for the Human Resource Management of an organization. The HRM has to find out the ways to bring the balance back in the work-life. This article talks about the meaning of Work-Life Balance, cause of imbalance, consequences of imbalance and also suggests the remedies to remove the imbalance.

Origin of Work-Life Balance:

The term “work-life balance” was originated in 1986, even though its usage in day to day life was infrequent for several years. Interestingly, work-life programs existed as early as the 1930s. Before World War II, the W.K. Kellogg Company created four six-hour shifts to replace the traditional three daily eight-hour shifts just to bring balance in the work-life. As a result of this, the new shifts increased employee morale and efficiency. Rosabeth Moss Kanter’s had published a book in 1977. The book was titled “Work and Family in the United States: A Critical Review and Agenda for Research and Policy”. This book brought the issue of work-life balance in front of researchers and organizations. In the 1980s and 1990s, companies began to offer work-life programs for their employees. In the initial stage, these programs were primarily to support women with children, but today’s work-life programs are less gender-specific and recognize other commitments as well as those of the family.

Defining Work-Life Balance:

The term work-life balance is a subjective phrase. It has different meaning for the different people. The term can be defined as follows.

  1. General Definition:

In the general view point, Work-Life Balance can be defined as “the state of equilibrium in which the demands of both a person’s job and personal life are equal”.

  1. Work-Life Balance from Employees’ View Point:

From the employees’ view point Work-Life Balance is a dilemma of managing work obligations and personal/family responsibilities.

  1. Work-Life Balance from Employer’s View Point:

From the view point of employer Work-Life Balance is a challenge of creating supportive company culture where employees can focus on the work while at the job.

Causes of Work-Life Imbalance:

Work-Life Imbalance is a challenge for the management. It creates many adverse effects on the organization as well as on the employees. The following are the causes of Work-Life Imbalance.

  1. Increasing Competition:

In the wake of development, the competition is increasing at the fast pace. This has created the need to work harder than before. The employees need to devote more time on the job. This creates imbalance in the work-life.

  1. Globalization:

Because of the globalization, the jobs have become more complicated. The employees need to focus more on the job to complete them properly. This also creates imbalance in the work-life.

  1. Increasing Job Hours:

In olden days, the jobs were simple eight hours job. In many organizations this has become twelve hours job. The service of 24×7 has created the demand of more job hours and this creates work-life imbalance.

  1. Irregular and Rotating Shifts:

In some organizations, the employees do not have regular or permanent shifts. Their shifts change weekly or fortnightly. Such irregular shifts create imbalance in the work-life.

  1. Short term Targets:

The employees working in marketing and finance area are given short term targets. They are forced to achieve the targets to remain in the job. The employees have to spend more hours on the job to complete the targets. This also leads to work life imbalance.

Consequences of Work-Life Imbalance:

As discussed above, there are several factors that lead to work-life imbalance. Such imbalance in the work-life has following consequences.

  1. The employee’s relationship with his/her family members is stretched due to imbalance in work-life.
  2. The imbalance in the work-life brings stress to the employees.
  3. Constant work-life imbalance creates more absenteeism of the employees.
  4. The work-life imbalance may cause health issues and employees may fall ill.
  5. Because of work-life imbalance the employer-employee relationship may get strained.
  6. The imbalance in the work-life may make the employees’ nature irritating.
  7. Sometimes, due to constant imbalance and increasing stress, the employee becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol.

Tips for Removing Imbalance:

As of now, it is clear that the work-life imbalance is very harmful for the employees as well as organization. It is a challenge for the Human Resource Management to reduce the imbalance and to bring the state of equilibrium. Here are given some important tips to the management and to the employees to reduce the imbalance in the work life.

  1. Tips to the Management:

The management can take following steps to remove the imbalance in the work-life.

  1. The employees should be given leave with pay at the appropriate interval.
  2. The management should organize the some functions or celebration in which the family members of the employees are also invited.
  3. The organization should arrange small picnic in which all the staff members and their family members should be joined.
  4. The organization should arrange work-life program for the employees.
  5. The organization should prepare permanent shift schedule for the employees and the shifts should not be irregular.
  6. The organization should apply flexible work schedule for the top level managers.
  1. Tips to the Employees:

The employees can take following steps to remove the work-life imbalance.

  1. Go on the outings with your family member.
  2. Take a break when you feel that the schedule has become hectic.
  3. Plan for the holidays and go on the tour with your family.
  4. Attend family functions and enjoy with the relatives.
  5. When the stress of the work is very high, go and play a game with your children.
  6. Listen to the music, because the music is a great stress buster.

Conclusion:

As we discussed above, in the recent time, the situation of work-life imbalance has raised several questions for the Human Resource Management. In the state of imbalance, the employees’ productivity goes down, their performance become poor, they become the prey of stress, they feel dizziness, they feel boredom on the job, they tend to shirk, they sometimes feel irritating on the job, their absenteeism increases and sometimes they fall ill. All these are the adverse effects of work-life imbalance. The Human Resource Management should find out the ways to bring the equilibrium in the work-life to improve the productivity of the employees.

Reference:

  1. The Alliance for Work-Life Progress, http://www.awlp.org
  2. Landauer, J. (1997, July). Bottom-line benefits of work/life programs. HR FOCUS, 74, 7, 3-4.
  3. McCartney, C. (2002). Work/life balance: The role of the manager. Training, 35.
  4. Halpern, Diane F. 2005. “How time flexible work policies can reduce stress, improve health, and save money.” Stress and Health. Vol. 21, issue 3. August. p. 157-168.
  5. Konrad, A., and R. Mangel. 2000. The impact of work- life programs on firm productivity. Strategic Management Journal 21 (12): 1225– 37.

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