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The Relationship Between Flexible Work Arrangements, Work-Life Balance, and Job Satisfaction

2297 words (9 pages) Essay in Employment

18/05/20 Employment Reference this

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Introduction

With today’s fast-paced society, filled with conflicting responsibilities and commitments, work-life balance has become a major concern among employees as well as employers. In recent years, the values of personal and family lives have moved to the forefront among the workplace. A 2001 survey conducted in the United States found, “82% of men and 85% of women ages 20 to 39 placed family time at the top of their work-life priorities” and “90% of working adults said they are concerned they do not spend enough time with their families” (Lockwood, 2003, p. 3). Due to the overwhelming desire for a balance between one’s personal life and professional life, the implementation of flexible work arrangements has become more prominent in the workplace. More organizations are offering flexible work arrangements to meet employees’ demands for work and family balance (McNall, Masuda, & Nickin, 2009). McNall et al. (2009) states that research has shown that schedule flexibility has a negative correlation to work-family conflict. In comparison, Shockley and Allen (2007) explain that the execution of flexible work arrangements is a vital key in the effort to help employees balance competing work and family domains. Flexible work arrangements also have a positive impact on several other work-related constructs. In a meta-analysis of 31 studies, flexible workweek schedules were related to productivity and performance, job satisfaction, absenteeism, and satisfaction with work schedules (Baltes, Briggs, Huff, Wright, & Neuman, 1999). The construct of job satisfaction has significant correlations with attitude and behavioral outcomes, which can impact the entire organization. This facet alone emphasizes the idealistic reasoning behind a flexible work environment. Overall, flexible work arrangements positively impacts work-life balance and job satisfaction.

Work-Life Balance

In organizations, the challenge of work-life balance is a growing concern. Work-life balance is defined as “a state of equilibrium in which the demands of both a person’s job and personal life are equal” (Lockwood, 2003, p. 2). Although this definition is fairly generic, work-life balance has multiple meanings, which depend on the context and the individual for which it implies. Work-family balance is a term that is frequently overlapped with work-life balance. Work-family balance is one domain of work-life balance and is defined as an “accomplishment of role-related expectations that are negotiated and shared between an individual and his or her role-related partners in the work and family domains” (Grzywacz & Carlson, 2007, p. 458). Frequently, researchers refer to work-family balance as the absence of work-family conflict. Lockwood (2003, p. 3) describes work-family conflict as “the push and pull between work and family responsibilities.” According to the National Survey of the Changing Workforce, 43% of employees with families reported that their jobs interfered with their family lives (Shockley & Allen, 2007). Friedman and Greenhaus (as cited in Lockwood, 2003) in their book, Work and Family-Allies or Enemies, emphasize that conflict between work and family can significantly influence an individual on various levels.

In order to reduce work-family conflict, men and women are more likely to search for a career and organization that has family-friendly benefits and work-life programs. This search process can be daunting and have a negative impact on career attainment, such as constraints on career choices, limited opportunity for career advancement, and career success. Work-family conflict can also cause stress, which in turn can lead to low employee morale, poor productivity, and decreasing job satisfaction (Lockwood, 2003). Fortunately, family-friendly benefits and work-life programs positively impacts both the employees and the organization. According to Lockwood (2003, p. 6), work-life initiatives “promote employee commitment, improve productivity, lower turnover, result in fewer employee relations challenges, and decrease the likelihood of unethical business practices.” In the Society for Human Resource Management 2003 Benefits Survey, “the percentage of employers offering family-friendly benefits continues to increase” (Lockwood, 2003, p. 7). The top five family-friendly benefits documented in the survey were as follows: dependent care flexible spending accounts, flextime, family leave above required leave, telecommuting on a part-time basis, and compressed workweeks. Three out of the five family-friendly benefits relate to flexible work arrangements.

Flexible Work Arrangements

Flexible work arrangements are defined as “alternative work options that allow work to be accomplished outside of the traditional temporal and/or spatial boundaries of a standard work-day” (Shockley & Allen, 2007, p. 480). The two most common terms of flexible work arrangements refer to “where” work is completed (flexplace) and “when” work is completed (flextime). Flexplace and flextime have become common tools for organizations to attract, motivate, and retain key talent (Allen, Johnson, Kiburz, & Shockley, 2013). According to an Employee Benefits Survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (as cited in McNall, 2010, p. 63), “59% of human resources professionals reported that their organizations offer employees flextime.” In relationship to work-life balance and work-family conflict, the literature proposes that flextime may be more effective than flexplace (Byron, 2005). Theoretically, there are several reasons why flextime may be more efficient compared to flexplace. Telecommuting, a type of flexplace may require the telecommuter to be by his/her computer from eight to five. This arrangement has little flexibility considering the telecommuter must remain on the computer for a designated time frame. Also, telecommuting may cause work-family conflict if the work location is at home. Therefore, two specific types of flexible work arrangements will be analyzed that focus on time flexibility rather than location flexibility. A flextime schedule is a non-traditional 9 to 5, 40-hour workweek. Employees are capable of arriving and departing at varying times throughout the day if they complete an eight-hour workday. Unlike a flextime schedule, a compressed work schedule allows employees to work a traditional 40-hour workweek in less than the conventional number of workdays. For example, instead of eight-hour days for five days, employees would work 10- hour days for four days. Pierce and Dunham (as cited in Baltes, 1999, p. 496) elude that “alternative work schedules, such as flextime and compressed workweeks, have been adopted by an increasing number of organizations over the past several decades.” In a survey of 1,035 organizations conducted by Hewitt Associates LLC (as cited in Baltes, 1999, p. 496), “66% offered flexible work schedules and 21% offered compressed work schedules.” Although the availability of flexible work arrangements such as flextime and compressed workweek are meant to help employees manage work and non-work responsibilities, a flexible work schedule can also be associated with higher job satisfaction.

Job Satisfaction

Kinicki and Fugate (2018, p. 62) define job satisfaction as “an effective or emotional response toward various facets of your job.” Job satisfaction is the most frequently studied outcome in the organizing framework. There is a positive relationship between job satisfaction and other organizational attitudinal outcomes like motivation, job involvement, withdrawal cognitions, and perceived stress. Job satisfaction also has a positive connection with two constructive individual-level behavioral outcomes known as job performance and organizational citizenship behavior (Kinicki & Fugate, 2018). On account of job satisfaction having the ability to effect organizational attitudinal and behavioral outcomes, it is necessary for organizations to determine what leads to job satisfaction. In an analysis performed by Tjalling C. Koopmans Research Institute, Possenriede and Plantenga (2011) discovers that access to flexible work arrangements has a positive impact on job satisfaction, with access to flextime having the largest impact. Another study investigated the effects of work-life balance across seven different cultures and found that “high levels of work-life balance were more positively associated with job and life satisfaction” (Haar, Russo, Sune, & Ollier-Malaterre, 2014, p. 361). This demonstrates that flexible work arrangements and work-life balance programs can cause an increase in job satisfaction and be beneficial for employees across various cultures.

Flexible Work Arrangements, Job Satisfaction, and Work-Life Balance

In a study led by McNall et al. (2009), the relationship between two flexible work arrangements (flextime and compressed workweek) and work-family enrichment were examined as well as the relationship between work-family enrichment and job satisfaction. While work-family conflict has negative consequences for both employees and organizations, work-family enrichment refers to experiences in one role that help improve the quality of life in the other role (McNall, 2009). This study included 220 working adults (96 men, 107 women, 17 unreported) and the mean age was 37.39 years. Out of 220 participants, 116 worked for a company that offered flextime while 66 worked for a company that offered a compressed workweek schedule. Participants were required to indicate their level of agreement to a number of statements in the survey. The level of agreement used a 5-point Likert-type scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree).

At the end of the study, McNall et al. (2009) discovered that the availability of flexible work arrangements did have an impact on work-family enrichment, which was related to job satisfaction. This study found similar results to Greenhaus and Powell’s (2006) work-family enrichment model. In Greenhaus and Powell’s (2006) model, resources gained from one role (e.g. work) promote improved performance in another role (e.g. family) either directly or indirectly. More specifically, “resources that an employee gains in his or her work role (e.g., flexibility) may directly improve his or her parenting role or may indirectly produce positive affect (e.g., enthusiasm, alertness, high energy), which, in turn, benefits the employee’s interactions with his or her family” (McNall, 2009, p. 64). Overall, flexible work arrangements influence work-family enrichment by showing that the organization wants to help employees balance work and family. McNall et al. (2009) also suggests that employees who experience more positive emotions about their work should lead to an increase in job satisfaction. In comparison to McNall’s findings, other studies have also found that employees who have reported greater work-family enrichment were more likely to have reported higher job satisfaction (Aryee, Srinivas, & Tan, 2005; Balmforth & Gardner, 2006). In a meta- analysis Baltes (as cited in McNall, 2009, p. 66) has similar results finding that “both flexible work schedules and compressed workweek schedules have a positive effect on job satisfaction.” 

Conclusion

As a result of societal changes, such as increasing numbers of women in the workforce, dual-career households, and work-leisure time expectations, the need for work flexibility has increased. According to Lee (as cited in Baltes, Briggs, Huff, Wright, & Neuman, 1999, p. 496), “these changes have increased employee demands for flexibility in their work schedules so that they can better adjust to and master life outside the workplace.” In conclusion, the findings of work-family literature emphasize the relationship between flexible work arrangements, work-life balance, and job satisfaction. The opportunity of a flexible schedule can improve the balance between work and life, which in turn increases employees’ job satisfaction. Therefore, it is important for organizations to invest in family-friendly benefits and work-life programs. Providing employees with flexible work arrangements verifies that the organization cares for the well being of its’ employees not only at work but also outside of work. Ultimately, this becomes evident to the employees who in return, form positive attitudes toward the company leading to an increase in job satisfaction. This perspective is known as perceived organizational support, which is defined as the “extent to which employees believe their organization values their contributions and genuinely cares about their well-being” (Kinicki & Fugate, 2018, p. 61). Perceived organizational support can positively benefit organizational support by increasing employee engagement, organizational commitment, job satisfaction, and greater trust (Kinicki & Fugate, 2018). A recent Global Workforce Study with 90,000 employees in 18 countries found “work-life balance as a top driver for considering a job and ability to balance work and personal life as a driver of retention” (McNall, 2009, p. 77). Globally, this strengthens the idea that organizations should consider offering policies that permit greater schedule flexibility in order to attract and keep well-qualified individuals. In the end, the implementations of flexible work arrangements positively relate to work-life balance as well as job satisfaction.

References

  • Allen, T. D., Johnson, R. C., Kiburz, K. M., & Shockley, K. M. (2013). Work-family conflict and flexible work arrangements: Deconstructing flexibility. Personnel Psychology, 66 (2), 345-376.
  • Aryee, S., Srinivas, E. S., & Tan, H. H. (2005). Rhythms of life: Antecedents and out-comes of work-family balance in employed parents. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90 (1), 132-146.
  • Balmorth, K., & Gardner, D. (2006). Conflict and facilitation between work and family: Realizing the outcomes for organizations. New Zealand Journal of Psychology, 35 (2), 69-76.
  • Baltes, B. B., Briggs, T. E., Huff, J. W., Wright, J. A., & Neuman, G. A. (1999). Flexible and compressed workweek schedules: A meta-analysis of their effects on work-related criteria. Journal of Applied Psychology, 84 (4), 496-513.
  • Byron, K. (2005). A meta-analytic review of work-family interference and its antecedents. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 67 (1), 169-198.
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  • Grzywacz, J. G., & Carlson, D. S. (2007). Conceptualizing work-family balance: Implications for practice and research. Advances in Developing Human Resources, 9 (4), 455- 471.
  • Haar, J. M., Russo, M., Sune, A., & Ollier-Malaterre, A. (2014). Outcomes of work-life balance on job satisfaction, life satisfaction and mental health: A study across seven cultures. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 85 (3), 361-373.
  • Kinicki, A., & Fugate, M. (2018). Organizational behavior: A practical, problem-solving approach. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.
  • Lockwood, N. R. (Ed.). (2003). Work/life balance. Society for Human Resource Management, 1-10.
  • McNall, L. A., Masuda, A. D., & Nickin, J. M. (2010). Flexible work arrangements, job satisfaction, and turnover intentions: the mediating role of work-to-family enrichment. Journal of Psychology, 144 (1), 61-81.
  • Possenriede, D., & Plantenga, J. (Ed.). (2011). Access to flexible work arrangements, working-time fit and job satisfaction. Utrecht School of Economics, 11 (22), 1-24.
  • Shockley, K. M., & Allen, T. D. (2007). When flexibility helps: Another look at the availability of flexible work arrangements and work-family conflict. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 71 (1), 479-493.
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