Balance Among Married Working Women Social Work Essay
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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016
Background of the Study
The economic conditions and social demand around the world has played its role in molding the scenario of work. Initially work was regarded as a necessity for survival but with the development in the role of work and composition of the workforce, now work is not just perceived as necessity but also considered as a source of personal satisfaction (Joshi, Leichne, & al, 2002).
In past decades, females were considered as house wives only; their major responsibilities were to look after the children, elders and other domestic chores. They were not allowed to join the workforce to support their families as man was regarded as the only bread earner of the family. It is always the male members of the family who earn livelihood for their families and women should only have to look after the home and family (Bruce & Reed, 1994); (Kanter, 1977).
However with the passage of time this trend is modified as the participation of women in the workforce is increasing which is affecting the share of male workers in the workforce to decline. But this has increased the burden on women as their responsibilities at home are not being shared by the male members of the family and therefore they have to perform the dual responsibility of being a family women and worker at the same time (Hudson Institute, 1990), (Saltzstein, Ting, & Saltzstein, July/August 2001).
According to Harvard Business Review, husbands are not good when they have to look after their children. Only 9% of husbands take time off from their work schedule when their child is sick, 9% help their children in their studies and only 3% take initiatives to arrange activities like summer camp for their family. Not only this but many women feels that their husband create more household work for them as compared to the amount of work they contribute (Hewlett, 2002).
Although these percentages are increasing with the passage of time but still it’s minimal, which shows that females are bearing more burden with all these responsibilities than males which leads to a higher level of conflict among their work and family roles
As people are now struggling to improve the life styles and living standards in order to lead better, healthier and longer lives, therefore the line separating the family life and work life has gradually blurred (Malik & Khan, 2008). The interdependence of work and family life is a reality and with the increasing number of women participation in the work force, this interdependence have become more visible and problematic (Bailyn, Drago, & Kochan, 2001).
According to a study, on an average full time jobs held by females across Europe is 40% whereas 32% females hold management positions (European Commission, 2007). While globally women make up 40% of the global workforce, with double-digit growth in certain countries (Carter & Silva).
Although the personal and professional life of individuals have developed in many aspects but the practices and policies governing employment have remained unchanged. These are still practiced in a way considering that a male worker is the breadwinner for the family, with a supportive wife at home and are not responsible for family duties. But the reality is totally opposite, as workers have to meet their family responsibilities also along with work and those workers who are married have an employed spouse (Bailyn, Drago, & Kochan, 2001).
It is a known fact that many organizations, due to the pressure of work, encourage their employees for the extension of working hours so that the work can be completed on specified deadlines. This affects the work-life balance of individuals at greater level (Satisfaction and Work-life Balance). In addition, work and family stress have crucial implications on society. Family may suffer because of the increased stress level created due to work pressures (Cartwright & Cooper, 1994). This may affects the interaction between parent and child, because of which there may be certain consequences which have to be encountered in the form of; changes in children’s behavior, child’s performance in academics and issues related to health etc (McEwen & barling, 1991).
This result in a conflict among different significant roles individuals have to play in their daily lives such as; a husband or a wife, a father or a mother, a child, an employee, an employer, a student, a community member, etc (Neault, 2005). Each role demands high attention and has its own requirements and responsibilities. Hence work life conflict occurs when married people are unable to bring a balance between their family and work responsibilities (Ibrahim & Marri, 2008).
Our research will mainly focus on married working females of banking sector of Pakistan as according to the Economist, banking industry is the largest and profitable industry of Pakistan and therefore the numbers of women are increasing for different banks of Pakistan whether it’s a central bank, commercial bank or Islamic bank. This is not the only issue for the women to face but some other issues such as harassment, compromising family norms and working values. In this project we are aim to reflect these issues and the factors which creates hurdles for women to balance their personal and professional life.
Overview of Banking Sector in Pakistan
The banks since its inception have been dominated by men, but as the economic conditions demands women to be bread earners to support their families and to increase their standards of living, the door to enter the job market has opened for them. Although, the women initially were minuscule in number but possessed very specialized skills, the advancement of women was never considered a factor in banking sector until the expansion of banks and other financial institutions which necessitated more support staffs.
Women, who started initially as support staffs are now an integral part of the banks, serving in junior and middle management positions with a few number in the top level management. They are now considered as an integral part of every banking institution around the world.
Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) India encourages the recruitment of women at higher rate. HSBC believes that qualified women perform their job in a much better way relative to male counterparts and also give their maximum effort to accomplish their goals. According to Fortune magazine (2005), HSBC has been ranked among the top 50 employers for women and minorities worldwide (Vij).
The banking sector is an example where highly educated women are hired with comparatively better working conditions than other sector. But in banking sector also women have to face number of challenges, one of the research project indicated that during the hiring process of females in banks, woman is mostly perceived as an ordinary employee while man is considered as expert. This perception open more opportunities for men to have promotions in their careers while women are mostly loaded with the routine work as they are more patient than men. It is also growing trend now a days that most banks are hiring women to represent at front desks to attract customers and to enhance the image and reputation of banks.
Not only this but EyüboÄŸlu & KuteÅŸ (2000) states that during the interviews for hiring a woman they are asked not to give birth to children for some years so that they can provide full attention to their work and the selection has been done on these grounds. Banks also prefer to hire female workforce due to the fact that women are considered as more devoted towards their work and does not get involved in corruption and fraudulent activities easily as compared to males.
These all issues make it difficult for the females to survive in the banking sector easily. Issues like late working hours, dealing with difficult customers, dealing with monetary issues, harassment, glass ceiling, gender discrimination, social constraint and lower opportunities for career advancement affects their life at home. This makes life stressful and also affects the physical and mental wellbeing of women which gradually impact the roles they are playing at home.
Aim of Research and Study
With the increased number of female workforce around the globe, it has become difficult for women to manage their work and family responsibilities effectively which give rise to a conflict among these responsibilities. Within the past few decades the workforce around the globe has evident; increased elder and child care responsibilities, single parent families and decrease in job security due to the changes in the structure of working conditions which has blurred the boundaries of work and family life (Neault, 2005).
Our topic which talks about maintaining work life balance among married working women in the Banking Sector focuses on gauging the hurdles affecting the work-life balance. This study will analyze how women in the 21st century can do it all, i.e. pursue a chosen career, be bread earners, have a well-structured family life including nurturing children, and yet be able to manage a social life all in one line.
The problem arises when husbands do not share the responsibilities with their spouses at home. As according to a research conducted in America by Harvard Business Review, the percentage of husbands who understand their responsibility for meal preparation is just 9%, while only 10% of husbands share the responsibility of laundry with their spouses and 5% take initiatives to clean the house (Hewlett, 2002).
Although this research has been conducted in American scenario but the case of Pakistani society would not be much different as Pakistani society is male dominated and the cultural and family norms practiced in society restrict husbands to help women in domestic chores.
This study will give us an idea that according to the working women’s perspective, what are the most important issues they are facing in their lives while trying to maintain a balance between their personal-professional lives and what are their expectations from their organization in order to help them to overcome with it?
It is a truth that the separation of work and family life has become difficult, they both act together and the lines of demarcation of family life and work life is becoming blurred day by day. With changing times, social structure, nature of business and globalization at fast pace; boundaries of work is changing rapidly. Working patterns and timings are rapidly changing around the world but still in many countries, the structure of doing work has not been revised. There is a need for the change in individuals and organizations way of performing their jobs. Organizations are expected to perform at its optimum and provide better services 24/7 which requires employees to devote extended working hours to deliver service and this in turn effects personal lives of employees and creates an issue of work-life imbalance which is of paramount concern for everyone to have work-life balance (Jacobs & Gerson, 2001) (Taylor, 2001).
Work life balance is an adjustment in working patterns to manage work with other responsibilities (Smithson & Stokoe, 2005) regardless of gender. Work-life balance reflects; “The extent to which an individual is equally engaged in – and equally satisfied with – his or her work role and family role” (Aziz & Cunningham, 2008), similarly according to Clark (2000) as cited by Othman, Yusof, & Osman (2009) work life balance is defined as, “Satisfaction and good functioning at work and at home with a minimum of role conflict” (Othman, Yusof, & Osman, 2009). It is also obvious that every individual is to require maintaining and achieving a balance between their paid work and family responsibilities be it child care, elder care, leisure time or self development (Hogarth & Bosworth, 2009).
Initially, work was considered as the only responsibility of male members of the society while women were only responsible for the domestic chores (Bailyn, Drago, & Kochan, 2001), (Eikhof, Warhurst, & Haunschild, 2007). This framework has been followed for ages and it was widely believed and accepted that the bread-winners of the family were only men. However as time evolved and in order to earn and have better lifestyles for their family, female workforce in the labor market started to increase, the conventional image of male as bread winner started to transform and now female also played an equally important role as an earning member of the family (Easton, 2007), (Flechl, 2009), (Malik & Khan, 2008) (Hakim, 2006), (Strober, 2010), (Lourel, Ford, Gamassou, Gue´guen, & Hartmann, 2009).
Females at Work Force
The Second World War brought the contribution of women to the forefront. The discrepancy between men and women started to emerge, as it came in to notice when the female gender entered the work force around the globe (Goldin, 1991), which added another responsibility to their account that now they are playing multiple roles between work and family life, taking care of their family as well as their work both came under their life domain (Tijdens, 1997), (A.Milkie & Peltola, 1999).
It was seen that at the time of Second World War keeping aside the traditional division of labor on the basis of gender, women entered the work force and start performing the men’s job in the industries to prove themselves as capable enough to perform tasks in a more organized and better way (Milkman, 1987). During this time period, they were not considered as the factory worker instead their identity was recognized as women only (Trey, 1972) and with the end of the war; the females were forced out of the labor market in order to take care of their traditional responsibilities (Hyman & Summers, 2004).
Fortunately, for women this was just a temporary setback, as the number of women workers has increased after the Second World War which shows that the pattern set during the war time is still being pursued by females persistently till present (Milkman, 1987), (Bird, 2006). This is evident from a research conducted by Goldin (1991) on the percentage of working females in USA as according to this study; the participation rate in 1890 was 5 percent, 1940’s was around 10.1 percent, while in 1950’s it increased to 22.2 percent and then kept on increasing and finally reached 60 percent in 1990’s (Goldin, 1991).
Female Work Force in Pakistan
Female workforce is not only increasing in European countries, but also in Pakistan; women are entering in the labor force with an increasing trend (Hussain, Malik, & Hayat, 2009). According to Federal Bureau of Statistics of Pakistan, the women entering into the work force have increased to 11.81 million (53.72%) in 2009 from 10.96 million (51.78%) in 2008. This labor force comprises of 74% females in agriculture sector, 11.9% in manufacturing, 11.6% in service sector, while the rest of 0.9% are working in other sectors (Federal Bureau of Statistics, 2010). These statistics shows that with an increasing number of female workforces, it has become mandatory for women to maintain a balanced work and family life.
Change in the Role of Women with Added Responsibility
The role of women modified after the Second world war, as females started entering in the labor force as bread earners to support their families due to economic pressures (Hakim, 2006) and to improve their life style (Emslie & Hunt, 2009), and changed the traditional image of male being the sole responsible for earning the livelihood for all family members. With the enhancement of this new role as bread earners, the responsibility also increases for the women as now they have to look after their work life also along with the family which makes it difficult for them to manage both responsibilities simultaneously (Lourel, Ford, Gamassou, Gue´guen, & Hartmann, 2009),(Flechl, 2009), (Work-Life Balance, 2010).
Although the conventional model of male bread winner starts to modify but still the distribution of duties between men and women remains unchanged. As now women are sharing the responsibilities of men by entering in the work force but on the other side the duties performed by females are not being shared (Emslie & Hunt, 2009), which is creating a conflict between their family and career life (Zulu, 2007), (Thompson & Walker, 1989).
Originally, women had to take care of family matters only while men were responsible for work related issues. But with the change in the role of female, now they have to manage their family and professional life effectively which is creating a burden on them (Malik & Khan, 2008), (Callan, 2008), (Dulk & Peper, 2007). They have to perform tasks like; cooking, shopping, cleaning (A.Milkie & Peltola, 1999), listening and comforting children, providing emotional support to partners and parents (Emslie & Hunt, 2009) and other domestic chores; along with official tasks while men are still only responsible for work related issues.
Due to this unending list of duties women had to perform at home which are less flexible and demanding (Aziz & Cunningham, 2008); affects professional life or relaxing time of females which leaves negative impression on work life balance as compared to men (A.Milkie & Peltola, 1999). Hence, in order to run work and family life smoothly women are expected to make larger sacrifices because they possess less power and authority due to the tradition and cultural norms of the society (Kardam & Toksöz). Women can equally enjoy roles as mothers and workers but still feel more pressure than men because home responsibilities are greater and require more sacrifice (Stephen, 1977), (Thompson & Walker, 1989).
According to Coltrane (2000), Greenhaus and Parasuraman(1999), Rothbard and Edwards (2003) as cited by (Malik & Khalid, 2008) it is a known fact that women typically do a bigger share of the household labor than men and that extra work at home partially constrains the time women can spend in paid work. Straub (2007) identifies that women tend to spend more time to family activities as of men and the same amount of work hours as of men.
Challenges Faced by Women while Handling Work and Family Life
With the amount of responsibilities added to the role of women, it has given rise to multiple challenges that they are facing in their daily life. Performing various tasks and playing different roles which includes; mother, wife, caregiver (for parents and elderly) and employee simultaneously becomes very difficult for women to fulfill (Straub, 2007), (Beauregard & Henry, 2008). It is a challenge for women to give proper time and attention to; children especially who are very demanding under age of 13 (Thompson & Walker, 1989), husband to maintain healthy relationship (Jacobs & Gerson, 2001), other members of the family (parents, elderly) (Lourel, Ford, Gamassou, Gue´guen, & Hartmann, 2009) and to their work life for career progression (Aziz & Cunningham, 2008). A balance between all these responsibilities makes it possible for women to perform well in their career and for the wellbeing of their physical and mental health (Whitehead & Kotze, 2003), (Creating Work Life Balance, 2009).
Female workers also have to face lots of social pressures which do not allow women to have late sittings at the work place for official matters or to visit places related to work (Hakim, 2006), (Jacobs & Gerson, 2001). These restrictions are mostly raised by the members of the family which includes; husband, in-laws, brother and parents which creates hurdles in their career progression (Schwartz, 1989). Women also encountered issues like stereotyping, sexual harassment and discrimination which make them feel insecure and confused about whether they should raise voice against inequality or remain quiet and face it (Ibrahim & Marri, 2008), (Lee & Brotheridge, 2005).
According to Easton (2007) and Zulu (2007), Glass ceiling is also one of the obstacles which hinders women while climbing ladders of hierarchy in organizations because business environment for women is more stressful and not at all easy as compared to men. As women are in minority and mostly perceived by men as blend of doubt, attraction, respect, confusion, competitiveness, pride and animosity; therefore this mixed perception creates glass ceiling at the time of promotions (Flechl, 2009), (Lourel, Ford, Gamassou, Gue´guen, & Hartmann, 2009).
As managerial positions require strong decision making skills while women are considered as emotional and required ample amount of time to make decision for important matters (Aziz & Cunningham, 2008), therefore women are not easily designated for senior managerial positions because of perception that they are best regarded as housewives’ and mothers (Dulk & Peper, 2007), (Kafetsios, 2007).
The other challenge for women is the career development and promotion in their professional lives. Senior positions require long hour’s commitment, work related seminars, conferences, workshop and tours which makes it difficult for women to reach due to family responsibilities (Beauregard & Henry, 2008), (Hochschild A. R., 1997). Also the fact that creates hurdles in women’s progression is pregnancy and childbirth; because they have to take maternity leaves which results in missing out opportunities for promotion (Straub, 2007), (Doherty, 2004), (Schwartz, 1989).
Although there are many women who want to achieve career advancement with fulfilling other house hold tasks (Kafetsios, 2007), but organizations fail to realize that talented and motivated women can be committed to family as well as career and can do best for the middle management (Saltzstein, Ting, & Saltzstein, Work-Family Balance and Job Satisfaction: The Impact of Family-Friendly Policies on Attitudes of Federal Government Employees, 2001) but as organizations are reluctant to reduce pressure and provide flexibility this leads to recruit other employees rather than providing training to women employees (Clutterbuck, 2003), (Doherty, 2004).
Consequences of Imbalance Work and Life
Due to the challenges faced by women in their work life, it becomes difficult for them to maintain a balance between their work life and family life. Therefore it leads to number of negative consequences, not only at part of individuals but organizations also have to face certain setbacks (McPherson, 2007), (Hyman & Summers, 2007).
As women have to execute variety of roles in their family and work life, it becomes tough for them to handle diverse tasks effectively at the same time providing equal amount of attention to every role. When women were unable to manage all these roles, it results in physical as well as psychological problems (Kirrane & Buckley, 2004); which includes increased level of stress, anxiety, lack of concentration and decrease in levels of alertness, energy and general health (Beauregard & Henry, 2008), (Franche, Williams, & al, 2006)
Work life imbalance also has implications on the relationship among family members as due to the demanding nature of work, it becomes difficult to spend time together which results in lack of bonding among family members (Lee & Brotheridge, 2005). Hence due to this situation, women may experience guilt and regret because they are unable to meet expectations of their families (Abercromby, 2007), (Creating Work Life Balance, 2009).
This is further supported by a study conducted by Hudson Inc which shows that, people having difficulty in maintaining a balance between professional and family life experience; mood disorder such as depression 30 times more than others, anxiety disorder 10 times more than others and substance-dependence disorder such as heavy drinking 11 times more as compared to those employees who maintain proper work-life balance. While employees who experienc lower level of discrepancy between work and family life, reports higher level of job satisfaction in the organization (Hudson inc).
Unbalanced work and family life also have negative impacts on the part of organizations, as when women workforce are not satisfied with the roles they are playing it reflects in their performance at work place (Tausig & Fenwick, Unbinding Time: Alternate Work Schedules and Work-Life Balance, 2001), (Nolan, 2005). According to Straub (2007), Kafetsios’s (2007) and Lambert et al., (2006); collision in work and family life results in reduced levels of job satisfaction, loyalty, organizational commitment, work effort, performance; while increased the level of absenteeism and turnover.
When employees do not get required level of assistance from employers in order to maintain proper work-life balance, they start searching for employment elsewhere according to their demands and feasibility (Hudson inc). According to a study in Harvard Business Review, when female workforce takes leaves for family reasons, only 5% of them are intend to return back to their respective jobs (Hewlett, Luce, Shiller, & Southwell, 2004). According to Hansen (2002), it is evident that women during their exit interviews states that the reason for leaving the organization is to spend more time with their families but when they are followed up, they are working somewhere else (Hansen, 2002).
Considering the impact unbalanced work and family life is having on organizations, it has become mandatory for employers to promote work-life balance in employee’s life and take steps to make it plausible within the prevailing environment. As if the employees are out of balance or stressed then it will affect their level of dedication and commitment to their organization, clients, customers, products and services with which they are engaged (Tremblay, 2002), (Human Resource and Skills Development Canada, 2003).
Policies and Steps taken by Organization to Support Work Life Balance
With the changing trends of economic development, equal employment opportunities and others, the issues regarding work-life balance has gained much attention from media and researchers globally (Kirrane & Buckley, 2004). The work-life balance debate mostly discussed the fact that individuals have too much work to do that very little time left for themselves or family (Eikhof, Warhurst, & Haunschild, 2007). As the time spend on work does not only include the contractual hours of employment but it also include the unpaid activities such as unpredictable long journey times, hence the line between work and family is becoming more blurred than before (Hyman & Summers, 2004).
These issues make employers realize the importance of work-life balance in woman’s daily lives in order to get optimal outcomes from the female employees (Leeds list the benefits of better work life balance, 2004), (Jacobs & Gerson, 2001). Hence during 1980’s, many organizations starts to change their internal workplace policies, procedures and benefits. The changes included maternity leave; Employee assistance programs (EAPs), flextime, telecommuting, paid maternity leaves, home-based work, vacation, professional counseling, and child and elder care referral (Bird, 2006), (Hudson inc), (Sunil Joshi, 2002). At present, the work-life balance issues are assumed as the most discussed topic in the field of Human Resource world due to the recognition of its value and need in the lives of females (Smithson & Stokoe, 2005).
Considering these consequences resulting from imbalance work and family life, European companies have shown interest in reducing this imbalance and have launched numerous work-life balance programs specifically for females (Sikora, Moore, Grunberg, & Greenberg). According to a research conducted by Caroline Straub; on average 95 percent of European companies offer flexible timings facility to their employees, 79 percent employers allow employees to work from home, 23 percent provides opportunity to take paid vacations and only 34 percent emphasis on child care facilities (Straub, 2007).
However still, a question asked by most individuals today is as to why do work-life balance matter to policy makers, and why it might be of importance to employers? Which has been answered by (Gatrell & Cooper, 2008) through citing Swan and Cooper (2005) that the concept of work-life balance developed initially as a result of European government policies designed to work on addressing the pressures with balancing work and family life together, where both parents were employed. As further addressed by Lewis and Cooper (2005) cited by (Gatrell & Cooper, 2008) it has been observed that, work-life balance policies are associated with presenting employees with the chance to work flexibly, whereas initially the notions of flexible working were considered in equal opportunities program, with a special focus on working mothers. Today it is open to all. This leads to encouraging the concept of work-life balance in clear terms.
In New Zealand, (Kean, 2002) undertook a survey of the employees of 25 organizations which reveals that there is a clear relationship between the work-life balance policies with the employee’s intentions to leave the organization and actual turnover rates. This study suggests that the work-life balance policies have net positive effect on staff turnover rates.
On the other side there are managers who are reluctant to apply policies which promote work life balance; according to the study of Workplace Employment Relations Survey 2004 (WERS), 69 percent managers in private sector believe that it is solely the responsibility of individuals to balance their work and domestic demands (Hyman & Summers, 2007). They have the doubt of the benefits work life balance will bring to their companies and perceive that it will be costly to implement (Hughes, 2007).
But this is not reality, although costs will incur at planning and implementation stage but the benefits that will be availed afterwards will be higher from this cost.
Benefits earned due to implementation of Work Life Balance Policies
Work-life balance has become the focus of companies worldwide, who do not take it lightly at any time. Nowadays, it is important for managers to take work-life balance seriously. The more overworked employees, the higher the demands or the expectations on the department (Clutterbuck, 2003), the more the managers have to depend on their employees to perform at the highest possible level of proficiency, value, and quality (Jacobs & Gerson, 2001), (Human Resource and Skills Development Canada, 2003).
There are companies who believe that if employees maintain a balance between work and family, it will benefit the organization as a whole. A survey conducted of DuPont employees lead to a discovery that those who used work-life opportunities provided by the company were more committed to their work and believed in sticking with the organization (Clutterbuck, 2003).
The U.K 2003 Best Companies to Work for survey states that the companies who allow their staff to work flexibly earn fine dividends. In UK, the government has been promoting the concept of work-life balance for some time now and many large corporations have started to implement this religiously (Clutterbuck, 2003). The benefits that BT, a U.K based company and one of the leading providers of communication solutions and services around the world has achieved from this change are colossal; it results in a more flexible and an approachable workforce, recruitment and training costs have been reduced as now 98% women return to work after maternity leave which saves around £3 million, absenteeism rate has reduced to 3.1% as compared to other U.K. companies whose average comes about to be 8.5%, one of the best aspects of work-life balance has been that around 7000 BT employees now work from home which has increased its gains of 31%, and flexible working arrangements means that BT can now re
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