Work Life Balance doesnt necessarily mean fewer hours at work. It is about people feeling satisfied by having an extent of control over how, when and where they work, how they can manage their time and stuffs they want and need to do. This balance is achieved when an individual's right to a fulfilled life inside and outside paid work is accepted and respected as a norm, to the mutual benefit of the individual, business and society. The key aspect of work life balance only from an employer's viewpoint is numerous. They are of importance because providing an employee with a balanced work-life existence is for the employer and employee. For an example, if the employee is satisfied and happy, the whole exercise must make business sense to the enterprise.
In 21st century, life is increasingly difficult with people managing multiple roles. Therefore, they will only stay with a job that offers flexibility. Different people have a different satisfactory balance, but most of the people results from combination of different aspects. The first aspect is the time balance which concerns the amount of time they have to work or the time they do not have to work. The second aspect is involvement balance which means the level of psychological participation or obligation to work and also the level of control on the work whether when and how they will do it. The third aspect is the satisfaction balance which is the level of satisfaction and value on the works given to them.
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It is important for a company to provide work life balance because it ensures employees are highly effective and motivated while they are on the job. All individuals have different requirements at different points in their life and therefore the concept of work life balance assumes different meanings at each of these stages in life. During young age, an employee would enjoy doing more work and work hard to achieve their targets. However, as soon as he or she begins a family life, the time spent at home with family also consider important. What works for an individual at one point in time need not be a motivator all the time. Therefore as an employer, it is crucial to track and notice on these requirements so that to ensure what is offered to an employee is what an employee needs and wants. Employer must also aware that ensuring a work life balance for the employees is a way to help them fulfil their objectives and their responsibilities. Providing for a work life balance also provides for time sovereignty which is outmost importance these days. Employees prefer to work flexible hours and like to work when they believe they are most productive.
Benefits of Work Life Balance
Work life balance able to enhance company's reputation. A company which contain socially responsible employer that treat their employees with respect and ensure a favourable working environment are respected by the wider community. Besides that, a company that build good reputation will be able to attract more potential employees as they want to work for companies that have attractive work-life balance policies and are more likely to show loyalty to companies that provide these.
Other than that, work life balance enhances recruitment and retention. Organisations have mutual motivation which is retaining and attracting staff. More and more employees, not only the younger generation which known as Gen Y, but mature workers too, are looking for work-life balance. Therefore, employers who manage to prove that work life balance is possible for their employees will attract more candidates during recruitment especially in a tight labour market. Research shows that increasingly such benefits are valued as much as, or more highly than financial remuneration. Companies that offer work-life balance options are better able to retain the staffs in whom they have already invested and who might otherwise consider leaving if the environment is too stressful or inflexible. Alarmingly, 21st century employees would consider leaving their current job for better work-life balance elsewhere. For example, Kirkcaldie and Stains Ltd, surveyed the students who work in their department store on a part-time basis and found that 84% of them said that the ability to get a satisfactory work-life balance has a lot of influence on whether they would continue to work there.
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Work life balance able to reduce absenteeism. Absenteeism is a crucial aspect that will affect the productivity and also morale of an organization. This is due to limited amount of staffs that can take over other staffs job and even if there are sufficient staffs, it might not perform as efficient as the staffs which hold that position. Thus, it leads to low productivity and low morale.
Work life balance able to increase productivity and shareholder value of an organization. It allows all employees to be developed in every respect due to retention of talent and development of work environment as men and women incorporation and permanence in the job market. Employees who are less overworked and stressed produce a higher quality of work and make fewer mistakes. Employees who are encouraged to consider their personal wellbeing take less time off due to sickness and poor health. In overseas, the evidence that it leads to gains in productivity and increases shareholder value is convincing. For example, in a study covering 500 companies in 12 Asia Pacific countries including China, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan, Watson Wyatt found that organisations with strong human resources practices were three times as profitable as the organizations with poor human resources practices which are 64% against 21%. The same study showed that flexible work arrangements increased shareholder returns by 3.5%. Besides that, Hewlett-Packard's implementation of a compressed work week in the US resulted in a 200% increase in the number of transactions conducted daily. Other than that, a study polled 2,191 managers of different workplaces in Britain. 97% of those in organisations with extensive work-life strategies reported above-average financial performance, compared with 59% of those in typical workplaces. In addition, another study of more than 1,500 managers and employees in the US found that 7 in 10 managers reported that flexible work arrangements increased productivity and improved quality of work. Lastly, an innovative study of Fortune 500 companies found that when a company announced a new work-life programme, its stock price rose an average of 0.48%. This amounted to an average dollar value of US$60 million per company. For comparison, the study also found that when a company announced retrenchments, its stock price dropped an average of 0.38%.
Work life balance also raises morale and improves employee relations. Employers use it to encourage culture change among organization and support their employees. Besides that, work arrangements that fulfil the individual needs of employees and provide a greater degree of control over when and how work is done also leads to raised morale and increased loyalty. By using the development of work life balance strategies, it enables social interaction between employees to build trust, boost morale and team spirit.
Work life balance can help in lower turnover and manage costs. Flexible work arrangements such as home working can reduce office overheads, save office space and cut down on travel costs. A healthier, less stressed work-force means less costs associated with health-care and absenteeism. Recruitment and training costs can be reduced through improved staff retention and low turnover rate.
Work life balance also helps in meeting customer expectation especially businesses with a strong need for customer service have found that developing a successful work-life balance strategy for employees has enabled them to retain staff who are happy to be at work and more responsive to the needs of their customers.
Some employers believe that both customers and colleagues have found these employees more interesting and fun to work with. In addition employers understand that to keep their business competitive they need to have the right number of staff, in the right place, at the right time, to meet customer demands.
Work life balance able to improve flexibility and fulfil business needs. There are times when all businesses need flexibility from their employees. It may be to change working hours or shifts to meet changing customer demands. It may be to back up colleagues who are on leave or away on training. It could be to complete an important project with a tight deadline. Employees are much more likely to be willing to meet their employer's needs if the employer has an established track record of being flexible in meeting their needs.
Implementation of Work Life Balance Strategy
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The model above contains of four crucial steps that an organization should take to implement an effective and sustainable work life strategy. An organization just starting out on work life strategy would need to first establish what work life strategy can do for it. These objectives could include high turnover, low motivation, poor customer service and others. The second step involves assessing business and employee needs. In the third step, these needs are used to design and implement the organisation's individual work-life programmes. The fourth step in the cycle involves evaluating the work-life programmes. Evaluation findings can then be used to determine whether the work life programmes and the overall Work-Life Strategy have succeeded, and whether modifications are necessary. Areas for improvement and new objectives could be identified. It is useful to think of these four steps as a continuous cycle of activities. Work-Life harmony is not just a destination but a journey. To be successful it needs to remain relevant to the changing needs of the business and employees which itself may change over time.
Step 1: Establish the need to implement or modify a Work Life Strategy
Work life strategy is a business strategy, therefore top management as a whole needs to buy into it and align organisational processes to it in order to make it work. Most organizations have implemented work life strategy for one or more reasons. The first reason is to attract and retain talent. Secondly, it is to raise morale and job satisfaction in work place. Thirdly, it is to increase productivity. Fourthly, in order to save on real estate and overhead expenses. Fifthly, it is to reduce health care costs. Sixthly, it is to provide work flexibility in response to changing employee needs. Seventhly, it is in order to increase commitment. Eighthly, the implementation of wok life strategy is to combat burnout. Ninthly, in order to become an employer of choice. Tenthly, it is to ensure the organisation stay ahead of the competition. After establish the need for implementing work life strategy, organisations can then move on to set targets and a timeframe in which to achieve these targets.
Step 2: Assess business needs and employees' work life needs