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The term ' Quality of work-life balance' describes a person's ability to effectively manage their paid work commitments with their career goals, personal, community and cultural responsibilities, interests and obligations. Quality Work-life balance has also been described as:
"...a self defined, self determined state of well being that a person can reach, or can set as a goal, that allows them to manage effectively multiple responsibilities at work, at home, and in their community; it supports physical, emotional, family, and community health, and does so without grief, stress or negative impact."
The need to examine the balance between work and life is likely to impact on most people during their employment resulting in the need for flexible work arrangements at some stage, even for a short period of time. Adjustments to work arrangements may take the form of leave or a reduction in working hours, usually on a temporary and sometimes on a permanent basis. Life cycle demands that may cause people to request or seek change in their work arrangements include:
- the birth or adoption of a child
- becoming a parent, guardian or grandparent
- the need to care for a family member who is ill or has a disability
- the desire to spend quality time with the family - at any stage
- the onset of short-term or long-term illness or disability
- deciding to return to study
- feeling tired, stressed and unenthusiastic at work
- spending too much time travelling to and from work each day
- the desire to pursue broader personal and/or community interests, such as volunteer work or sporting activities
- considering retiring from the paid workforce.
Quality of Working Life is a term that had been used to describe the broader job-related experience an individual has.
While there has, for many years, been much research into job satisfaction (1), and, more recently, an interest has arisen into the broader concepts of stress and subjective well-being (2), the precise nature of the relationship between these concepts has still been little explored. Stress at work is often considered in isolation, wherein it is assessed on the basis that attention to an individual's stress management skills or the sources of stress will prove to provide a good enough basis for effective intervention. Alternatively, job satisfaction may be assessed, so that action can be taken which will enhance an individual's performance. Somewhere in all this, there is often an awareness of the greater context, whereupon the home-work context is considered, for example, and other factors, such as an individual's personal characteristics, and the broader economic or cultural climate, might be seen as relevant. In this context, subjective well-being is seen as drawing upon both work and non-work aspects of life.
However, more complex models of an individuals experience in the workplace often appear to be set aside in an endeavour to simplify the process of trying to measuring "stress" or some similarly apparently discrete entity. It may be, however, that the consideration of the bigger, more complex picture is essential, if targeted, effective action is to be taken to address quality of working life or any of it's sub-components in such a way as to produce real benefits, be they for the individual or the organisation.
Quality of working life has been differentiated from the broader concept of Quality of Life. To some degree, this may be overly simplistic, as Elizur and Shye,(1990) (3) concluded that quality of work performance is affected by Quality of Life as well as Quality of working life. However, it will be argued here that the specific attention to work-related aspects of quality of life is valid.
Whilst Quality of Life has been more widely studied (4), Quality of working life, remains relatively unexplored and unexplained. A review of the literature reveals relatively little on quality of working life. Where quality of working life has been explored, writers differ in their views on its' core constituents.
It is argued that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts as regards Quality of working Life, and, therefore, the failure to attend to the bigger picture may lead to the failure of interventions which tackle only one aspect. A clearer understanding of the inter-relationship of the various facets of quality of working life offers the opportunity for improved analysis of cause and effect in the workplace.
This consideration of Quality of working Life as the greater context for various factors in the workplace, such as job satisfaction and stress, may offer opportunity for more cost-effective interventions in the workplace. The effective targeting of stress reduction, for example, may otherwise prove a hopeless task for employers pressured to take action to meet governmental requirements.Definition
Various authors and researchers have proposed models of Quality of working life which include a wide range of factors. Selected models are reviewed below.
Hackman and Oldham (1976)(5) drew attention to what they described as psychological growth needs as relevant to the consideration of Quality of working life. Several such needs were identified; Skill variety, Task Identity, Task significance, Autonomy and Feedback. They suggested that such needs have to be addressed if employees are to experience high quality of working life.
In contrast to such theory based models, Taylor (1979)(6) more pragmatically identified the essential components of Quality of working life as; basic extrinsic job factors of wages, hours and working conditions, and the intrinsic job notions of the nature of the work itself. He suggested that a number of other aspects could be added, including; individual power, employee participation in the management, fairness and equity, social support, use of one's present skills, self development, a meaningful future at work, social relevance of the work or product, effect on extra work activities. Taylor suggested that relevant Quality of working life concepts may vary according to organisation and employee group.
Warr and colleagues (1979)(7), in an investigation of Quality of working life, considered a range of apparently relevant factors, including work involvement, intrinsic job motivation, higher order need strength, perceived intrinsic job characteristics, job satisfaction, life satisfaction, happiness, and self-rated anxiety. They discussed a range of correlations derived from their work, such as those between work involvement and job satisfaction, intrinsic job motivation and job satisfaction, and perceived intrinsic job characteristics and job satisfaction. In particular, Warr et al. found evidence for a moderate association between total job satisfaction and total life satisfaction and happiness, with a less strong, but significant association with self-rated anxiety.
Some have argued that quality of working life might vary between groups of workers. For example, Ellis and Pompli (2002)(8) identified a number of factors contributing to job dissatisfaction and quality of working life in nurses, including: Poor working environments, Resident aggression, Workload, Unable to deliver quality of care preferred, Balance of work and family, Shiftwork, Lack of involvement in decision making, Professional isolation, Lack of recognition, Poor relationships with supervisor/peers, Role conflict, Lack of opportunity to learn new skills.
Sirgy et al.; (2001)(9) suggested that the key factors in quality of working life are: Need satisfaction based on job requirements, Need satisfaction based on Work environment, Need satisfaction based on Supervisory behaviour, Need satisfaction based on Ancillary programmes, Organizational commitment. They defined quality of working life as satisfaction of these key needs through resources, activities, and outcomes stemming from participation in the workplace. Maslow's needs were seen as relevant in underpinning this model, covering Health & safety, Economic and family, Social, Esteem, Actualisation, Knowledge and Aesthetics, although the relevance of non-work aspects is play down as attention is focussed on quality of work life rather than the broader concept of quality of life.Factors Effecting Quality work life of Employees
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Helping your employees maintain work/life balance isn't something you do just for them - it can be vital to the health of your company. Employee burnout has a major impact on productivity, but that's not its only negative effect.
- Overworked and overstressed employees are more likely to get sick and have high absentee rates.
- A lack of work/life balance affects an employee's attitude. Unhappy workers are typically less efficient and can destroy morale.
- Burnout directly affects turnover rates. Employees can work at a frantic pace for only so long before they get frustrated and leave a company.
Motives of Companies now in these days
"Happy Employee make happy customers"
There is a definite link between happy employees and happy customers. In most cases, happy employees will do everything they can to keep customers satisfiedFactors Effecting Quality work life of Organization
At home and work, physical and social environments have major influences on a person's health. The physical environment can affect people directly in many ways, and includes noise levels, toxic substances, air quality and workplace design. The social environment has an impact on employee wellness through such factors as work schedules, coordinating home and work responsibilities, deadlines, work organization, available training and support. The social environment also has an effect through interpersonal relationships, including supervisor communications, feedback from co-workers and family relationships. People are also affected indirectly by worry, nervousness and stress.How Quality of Work Life benefited Its Employees and Organization.
Therefore, the types of wellness/health promotion activities that can be implemented within an organization are numerous and target different aspects of an individual's physical, emotional, and social environment. Some examples of health promotion and/or wellness activities include:
- creation, promotion and maintenance of organizational occupational Health and Safety Committees;
- providing advice to employees and managers on dealing with issues concerning the use or wearing of scented products in the workplace;
- workshops/seminars on HIV/Aids in the Workplace, dealing with stress in the workplace, time management, team building, safe winter driving, smoking cessation, first aid, cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR), elder care, or retirement planning;
- promotion of an organizational Employee Assistance Program;
- flu immunization and blood donor clinics;
- promotion of Workplace Injury Prevention Initiatives such as ergonomic or workplace assessments for employees by health professionals;
- promotion of a healthier lifestyle by encouraging employees to walk, run, or jog; and
- enforcement of a smoke-free work environment.
- the potential to attract high quality, innovative and productive staff in an increasingly competitive labour marke.t
- Higher levels of staff morale, job satisfaction, organizational commitment, dedication and loyalty amongst existing employees resulting in retention of current employees whose skills, knowledge and talents are invaluable.
- An enhanced public perception of the organisation as one that demonstrates an appreciation of flexibility in work to assist staff to manage their work-life balance.
- Better able to manage multiple responsibilities without feeling guilty about sacrificing priorities at work or outside.
- More likely to feel in control of their life because they have choices as opposed to feeling as if they are being forced to sacrifice work or other priorities.
- May feel more secure, happier - and thus motivated - working for an employer that supports their right to make choices between work and home life.
Companies have begun to realize how important the work-life balance is to the productivity and creativity of their employees. Research by Kenexa Research Institute in 2007 shows that those employees who were more favorable toward their organization's efforts to support work-life balance also indicated a much lower intent to leave the organization, greater pride in their organization, a willingness to recommend it as a place to work and higher overall job satisfaction.
Employers can offer a range of different programs and initiatives, such as flexible working arrangements in the form of part time, casual and telecommuting work. More proactive employers can provide compulsory leave, strict maximum hours and foster an environment that encourages employees not to continue working after hours.
It is generally only highly skilled workers that can enjoy such benefits as written in their contracts, although many professional fields would not go so far as to discourage workaholic behaviour. Unskilled workers will almost always have to rely on bare minimum legal requirements. The legal requirements are low in many countries, in particular, the United States. In contrast, the European Union has gone quite far in assuring a legal work-life balance framework, for example pertaining to parental leave and the non-discrimination of part-time workers.Responsibility of the Organization
Developing and implementing policy workshop. Training for those such as HR advisers, Health & Safety and Occupational Health professionals tasked with developing and implementing stress and wellbeing policies that will enable a better quality of working life.
Strategic management of Quality of work life, stress and wellbeing at work. This training focuses on the needs of senior managers such as Deans and Heads of Department, who have a key leadership role in managing risks from stress and ill-health at work. Senior managers will be equipped frameworks that enable a strategic approach to improving quality of working life in faculties and departments.
Training for Quality of work life / wellbeing champions. This is specific training for those tasked with facilitating improvements to quality of working life in their part of the organisation. The training includes action planning tools and practical advice on evaluation. This can be combined with strategic management training where Deans and Heads of Department have this 'champion' role.Research
Research has consistently shown that employees with a better Quality of Working Life are happier, have less stress, are less likely to be absent and are more engaged at work, thereby improving productivity and reducing staffing cost.
NTPC renowned Quality of work life staff surveys, feature three distinct scales which enable organisations to measure the key factors contributing to the well-being and stress of their staff.
Accurate measurement is the critical first step in any Organisational Development process. All of our scales and individual questions have been rigorously tested and peer-reviewed, enabling our clients to simply and cost-effectively benchmark their performance in a reliable and valid way.
The mission statement of the International Society for Quality of Life Research is: To advance the scientific study of health-related quality of life and other patient-centered outcomes to identify effective interventions, enhance the quality of health care and promote the health of populations. The Society promotes the rigorous investigation of health-related quality of life measurement from conceptualization to application and practice. ISOQOL fosters the worldwide exchange of information through:
The Arts and Quality of Life Research Center promotes research, training, and innovative programs that demonstrate the unique role of the arts in making a difference in people's lives. To this end, it focuses on exploring uses of various creative arts to enhance human functioning, developmentally, intellectually, psychologically, socially, physically, aesthetically and spiritually.
The Center encourages, supports and facilitates efforts that employ an ever-wider lens through which the power of the arts may be seen to enhance human well-being. Its research findings will effect policy changes on institutional, state and national levels so that funding for the arts may be routinely included in educational, social and healthcare programs. The Center strives to become an international model for arts and quality of life research, education and information.
Many have implemented various work-life programs to help employees, including alternate work arrangements, onsite childcare, exercise facilities, relaxed dress codes, and more. Quality-of-work-life programs go beyond work/life programs by focusing attention less on employee needs outside of work and realizing that job stress and the quality of life at work is even more direct bearing on worker satisfaction. Open communications, mentoring programs, and fostering more amicable relationships among workers are some of the ways employers are improving the quality of work life.
On the other side organisation must focused effective working conditions to their employee because work is an integral part of employee everyday life. As it is their livelihood or career or business on an average they spend around 12 hours daily in the work place. That is one third of their entire life. It does not influences the overall quality of their life. It should yield job satisfaction, give pieces of mine, of full fillment of having done a task as it is expected without any flaw and having spent the time fruitfully. Constructively and purposefully. Even if it a small step towards of their life time goal at the end of the day it gives satisfaction and eagerness to look forwarded the next day.
So there must be a proper balance in between organisation and employee quality of work life.References & Bibliography
- Lawler III E and Porter L, (1966). Managers pay and their satisfaction with their pay. Personnel Psychology. XIX 363-73
- Mullarkey S, Wall T, Warr P, Clegg C & Stride C (1999) Eds.. Measures of Job Satisfaction, mental Health and Job-related Well-being. Inst Work psychol..
- Elizur D & Shye S 1990 Quality of work life and its relation to quality of life. Applied psychology: An international review. 39 3 275-291
- Taillefer,-Marie-Christine; Dupuis,-Gilles; Roberge,-Marie-Anne; Le-May,-Sylvie (2003) Health-related quality of life models: Systematic review of the literature. Social-Indicators-Research. Nov; Vol 64 (2): 293-323