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Work-life Balance in HRM
Submitted for MSc
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Table of ContentsPage No
Change in Nature of Work 4
- Lean Enterprise 4
- Adoption of Lean Thinking 4
Work Life Balance (WLB) 5
Initiatives for WLB 6
Key Features of WLB across Cultures 7
Globalisation makes the trading environment quite demanding for the businesses operating in it. New strategies are required by businesses in order to be successful and to compete with competitors, when a company is pursuing through this pattern then there could be some challenges like cost reduction, productivity enhancement, attaining customer needs, profit maximisation and retaining committed work force (Boone and Van Den Bosch, 1997). Human resource management (HRM) can play a decisive role for enhancing performance of an organisation and meeting challenges; it is facing in day to day operations (Harzing and Pinnington, 2011). In addition to this HRM is also vital for a business because it helps in developing skills of work force as well as their knowledge base. HRM is required to adopt a strategy for attaining objective pose by the organisation where the adoption of certain strategy could be difficult because the cultural background of work force is usually variant and certain HRM strategy could be ineffective when managing variant cultural related people (Harzing and Pinnington, 2011). It has been mentioned in a research that western management style could be ineffective when it comes to managing an eastern based business (Nigam; Su, 2011).
The area of managing human in an organisation becomes even more critical when work life balance has to be maintained by the organisation. Different types of responses are recorded by employees from different countries. Economy of a country plays an integral role in regards to work life balance (WLB), employees from developed economy are required to work more harder than to employees from developing economy (Milhouse et al., 2001). WLB is fulfilling responsibility of people where individual could respond differently so that all parties can be benefited (Milhouse et al., 2001). The role of an organisation in WLB has been highlighted by Chandra (2012), he reiterated that HR policies based on flexibility and choice can solve WLB issues. The issue of WLB comes when personal life conflicts with the demand of work for an individual. It is personal choice of an individual to give preference to the personal life or the work life depends on the goals of an individual (Milhouse et al., 2001). In this essay influence of HRM has been considered in relation of WLB in cross culture perspective. Different human resource management styles for cross culture are mentioned which is further extended with a critical analysis on WLB from the perspective of both employers and employees in western and non western economies. Conclusion has been drawn on the basis of entire research which is followed by the recommendations in order to improve the working environment for employees.
Change in Nature of Work
There are quite a few factors that contribute to the changing nature of work but mainly two drivers are being mentioned by organisational theorists (Liker, 2003). There has been a constant pressure these days on organisations to be more competitive (agile) and in addition to this organisations are also required to be customer focused (lean enterprise) (Mohrman and Cohen, 1995). Being competitive these days refer to the ability of an organisation to accommodate the changes in the business. Organisations are also required to provide those services as well as products that are mainly complimented or appreciated by its customers (Zuboff and Maxmin, 2002).
Lean enterprise is a product of recent past when it has been focused by Toyota while manufacturing its products to include those features in its products that are highly regarded by customers (Liker, 2003). The concept got immense success by the business world and led to significant changes in the businesses across the globe. The concept of lean enterprise is mainly associated to manufacturing or product development businesses (Liker, 2003).
If a business is intended to be lean enterprise then it has to be motivated by certain principles of lean enterprise (Womack et al., 1990).
- The product is required to have some certain value from the customer perspective.
- It is required to identify those activities that could be valuable for customers.
- Organisation has to remove all non value adding activities from its process.
- Waste and inefficiency is required to be removed from the functions.
Lean enterprise makes the organisations to respond to the need of markets rapidly after the reduction in cycle time, customizing its operations and by supporting the need of constant change and innovation in the organisations (Kling and Zmuidzinas, 1994).
Adoption of Lean Thinking
Adopting the concept of lean enterprise is not something that can be done without any change as organisational structure is required to be altered and in addition to that internal activities are required to be customised as well as efficiency level is required to be enhanced. The aspect of waste remove from the functions is not something that can be done without going through any change because waste is becoming part of the function when a slack exists in the processes and removal of that slack means altering the way function is conducted by the business (Mohrman et al., 1998). The required changes in the organisation are getting supported by the advancement in the information technology and development in the means of communication.
In order to adopt lean thinking an organisation is required to go through following changes (Zuboff and Maxmin, 2002):
- Hierarchy is required to maintain discipline in an organisation but the same hierarchy can be cumbersome if there are over excessive level of hierarchy in an organisation because it is not as responsive as an organisation could be without having too many levels of hierarchies. In lean enterprise hierarchy is required to be replaced by cross unit organisational groups.
- Strict boundaries in organisation on the level of departments as well on the level of job categories are required to be blurred so that different parts of the organisation can come closer and thus knowledge can be shared.
- The entire organisation is required to work as a team so that rapid decisions can be made and inefficiencies can be removed and thus work processes can be improved.
- Workers are required to be followed by organisational goals rather than rule and regulations.
- The process of change in an organisation is required to be continuous where the reflection on past could help devising for the future.
Work Life Balance (WLB)
Before the mid 90’s the aspect of WLB on organisational level rarely discussed, recently it has received quite a lot of attention by the corporate world (Glynn, 1999). Following this attention to WLB the organisations has gone through quite a lot of changes both inside as well as in the wider society. It doesn’t mean that change has to be introduced when a new aspect introduced in an organisation rather than change has been regarded as constant in a business to be successful (Glynn, 2000). Change put pressure on the work force as the resultant effects of the change are required to be managed by the work force where work load can be increased or new skills are required to be developed by the work force (CIPD, 1999). The pressure on work force can make them a bit insecure towards the organisation. Change could result in confusion of the work force as they might feel that they have to go through constant pressure of proving their worth to the organisation (Worrall and Cooper, 2001). In addition to this there is not much freedom for an employee to choose which employees they want to work for these days.
The entire development in the working environment leads to a situation where the work force is required to be working for longer hours and they are also aiming for a better balance between work and life (Glynn, 1999). It also leads to a problem where a small portion of talented work force could leave those organisations that are demanding for more work in return of less benefits and preference is normally given to that work place where importance of also given to the life outside the work. The problem of work life balance intensifies with societal change where now women are also a main part of organisation which means that they are working along men thus the family life suffer more in result of it (Worrall and Cooper, 2001). These days to some extent the grounds on which an organisation can be regarded as a better working place are about its ability to accommodate the individual life outside the work as well as the life in the organisation.
In the light of entire discussion it has been concluded that WLB is about recognition of a need that an individual is required to maintain a balance between demand from his work and from the rest of his life. The need of work life balance makes an employer to go for those policies that could aid the work force for maintaining balance between the work and personal life (MacBride-King, 1999). This is the reason that WLB is a joint responsibility of both employees and employers. In regards to an employer addressing WLB is quite complicated as balance for one individual might not be applicable to another individual (Glynn et al., 2001). It means employer to adopt those policies in regards to WLB that could benefit most of the work force.
Initiatives for WLB
Initiatives in regards to WLB can be "the range of work arrangements, both formal and informal, that exceed the statutory minimum and which assist employees to combine employment with their caring responsibilities and personal life outside work" (Allen, 2001; p. 415). If this concept is applied in the organisation then employees can achieve a balance between their personal interest and their work even regardless of the responsibilities they have outside the work. Some of the initiatives for WLB could be (Perlow, 1995):
- Career breaks: Some employers are giving career breaks to its employees like educational leaves, maternity leaves, bereavement leave and parental leaves.
- Part time hours: If an employ is unable to work full time then some part time working hours could solve the WLB problems for employees.
- Flexi-time: This arrangement can help employees to arrange their personal life with the work life.
- Job sharing: When an employee is unable to perform the duties of full time then two employees can be assigned to the tasks which are supposed to be done by a single employee.
- Childcare Support: Child care centre is quite useful for working parents so they can get rid of the tension they might have due to their kids.
Key Features of WLB across Countries
The aspect of cost cutting made organisations in all economies to divert the load on the work force. There had been a survey conducted in UK with a name of Roffey Park Management Agenda. The outcome of the report highlighted that half of the people in UK believe that their respective organisations are demanding excessively from them (Holbeche and McCartney, 2002). The result of this load is more hours from the work force. Another survey conducted Ceridian Performance Partners (2000), In this survey 40% of respondents mentioned that they feel over stressed due to the work load they are having. There is another reason of this stress, CIPD (1999) reiterated that disorganised or mismanagement in the organisation also make the work force to spend more hours doing their work as mistakes are required to be rectified. The possible solution of this problem could be smart work which could decrease the work load and as well as can make the organisation to save its resources.
The report of Roffey suggested that 88% of respondents are of the view that they are required to work longer than their committed hours on regular basis (Holbeche and McCartney, 2002). If an employee is supposed to spend more hours in the organisation then these hours make him to sacrifice his or her personal commitment which means the life outside the work could suffer (Clark, 1994). The overall effect of all these changes in the working of an employee can create stress in an individual.
The problem of stress or work load is by no mean confined to UK rather than in Japan over work and lack of WLB balance became a source of increase in suicide since 1970 (Maitland, 2000). Home life of employees in the country is severely getting affected. Quality of Working Life Survey (2000)10found that 69% of respondents felt that the excessive hours adversely affected their morale This effect appears to be getting more pronounced, having risen from 56% in 1998. In all it can be said that WLB is not something whose affects are limited to the organisation rather it creates long lasting problems in the society thus organisations are required to focus on this issue for the welfare of an entire society.
Methodology for any research is about strategy for enquiring about the area of research and then moving to data collection so that conclusion can be attained in result of research (Myers, 2009). The primary objective of this research is to analyse the WLB issues in the cross cultural human resource management. The research is descriptive so all of the sources accessed for this research are secondary which means prior researches have been analysed for this research. The research started with the understanding of WLB as a discipline then reasons for the need of WLB has been analysed after which different initiatives has been considered that were taken for the sake of WLB. The last stage of research is about different practical cases of countries so that WLB situation can be analysed in these countries. All the sources considered were in the light of qualitative aspect of research as WLB in itself is more o qualitative issue when managing human resource. In qualitative research, different knowledge claims, enquiry strategies, and data collection methods and analysis are employed (Creswell, 2003).
WLB holds importance for both employees and for the employing organisation. Individuals WLB when taken collectively from the total work force perspective then it could result in colossal impact on the performance of the entire organisation. If WLB is being attained by an employee then that employee could be more productive for the organisation being able to enhance engagement in result of it. In current competitive economic environment if an organisation neglects aspect like WLB then it could be difficult for that organisation to come out of recessionary challenges. More efforts are being made in western world for WLB but there is continuous improvement in employees as it affects the outcome of an organisation.
In order to take initiative for WLB an organisation is required to take long term perspective of WLB and its probable outcomes. WLB is not one size fit all approach which means individual is required to be focused which can be done if there is an adequate appraisal system working in the organisation. Effective work force ensures effectiveness of a business thus in order to increase the effectiveness of business it is quite significant to take measures like WLB for the welfare of organsiation which can only after realising the importance of worker in the work place.
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