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Work-life conflict occurs when time and energy demands imposed by our many roles become incompatible with one another; participation in one role is made increasingly difficult by participation in another. Work-life balance (WLB), from an employee perspective, is the maintenance of a balance between responsibilities at work and at home.
When the employees have conflicts between their work life and personal life it creates distractions in their work, preventing employees from performing in their best level, which creates obstacles in the achievement of organizational and individual goals. Therefore failure in managing work-life conflict among the employees could lead to problems within the organization.
Hemas Hospital is a newly started hospital in Sri Lanka in the year 2008. It is a multi specialty hospital which caters for the whole family by providing highly specialized medical services according to the highest international standards. Around 100 consultants practice in this hospital.
As a newly started hospital working for 24 hours they are confronted with problems of employees struggling to strike a balance between their work and life. Employee’s commitment to their service is vital to provide to provide a according to the standards.
At Hemas Hospital Nurses play a major role. “Professional nursing is a highly skilled practice directed towards improving the health status of individuals, groups and communities. Nursing activities encompass promoting health, preventing disease, aiding and supporting people in daily living as well as during recovery and rehabilitation, and helping people to die comfortably and with dignity” (“Nursing”, n.d.).
The purpose of this essay is to highlight and discuss on the issues of work life conflict & how it affects further to discuss about the solutions that could be applied to tackle the conflicts. Secondary researches have been used in order to support the discussion in an effective way.
2.1 Women’s Family Commitment
Over recent years there has been an enormous increase in the number of women employees entering to the paid workforce labor of Hemas Hospital Wattala. Despite the rapid growth in women’s involvement in the paid workforce; it appears that little has changed for women in terms of their family commitments.
Culture plays a big role in Sri Lanka in relation to this topic. “Traditional gender roles prescribe for women to place the role of wife and mother above all others; men are expected to be the family breadwinner. Given the burden of household responsibilities and child care, women employees (doctors, nurses, receptionists) face the demands of multiple roles, which often go beyond the general three roles working mothers generally take on (wife, mother, and worker) to include responsibilities such as: caretaker of aging parents, sister, aunt, cousin, etc.” (Scott Coltrane, n.d.)
As a result of these multiple tasks work life conflict has been identified as a common problem among most women employees at Hemas Hospital.
2.2 Personal Health Problems
Health is the general condition of a person in all aspects. Having problems is a part of life. Most of the researches have found that effects of stress affect the health. The reason is the stress and health is closely linked. And also they have found that the risk factors for health caused by chronic stress causes as much as 60 to 90% of all illnesses. The impact it has on your health, both physical and mental, can be very harmful. And individuals stress does contribute to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other cardiac risk factors such as addictions and obesity. We found that 55% of Hemas hospital’s nurses getting sick because of the stress they have. Some of the shifts they have to cover up without taking breaks. Therefore they cannot balance their personal lives with the work they have. So that stress arises and automatically they get ill.
2.3 Tight Work Schedules
Workers have to control their working hours to enjoy a better life. Most of time nurses have to do night duty and also they have to do over time work because of this reasons lack of flexible working hours can be arising. Most of times who worked as nurses are young mothers so then they have do their children work, they have to care about children and also their home work. It is very hard to do night duty person who has small child then they might feel time is more important than money after that there can be arise a stress on work place. Organization culture can shape the work life balance. According to our culture most of time mothers are house wife’s and also children’s need care of mothers. If mother busy with her job then there will be arises social problem and also family problems. In Hemas hospital every nurse has to do two night duties in each week and then there arises conflict between work life balances.
2.4 Lack of Employee Rewards and Appreciation
As a nurse Caring for the sick and dying has never been easy. Though it is a respected, intellectually stimulating, and deeply meaningful career today it offers limited benefits and many challenges.
Though it’s been 2 years Hemas Hospital started their management hasn’t introduced proper rewarding system for the nurses. This will directly affect the employee’s morale; therefore employee productivity would be less.
2.5 Transportation Issues
Transportation is one of the main issues that Hemas Hospital employees are facing. Since there are both day and night shifts, the employee’s main problem will be the transportation.
In Sri Lanka with the cultural situations most of the people think in negative way when the females doing the night shifts and/or when they arrives at home in mid night, Since the public transportation is not too safe for female after around 7.30 – 8.00 pm the transportation will be highly regarded when comes to night shifts.
3.1 High Absenteeism
Absenteeism is an expensive problem in both public and private sector organizations. Over the past decade, there has been increasing interest in the impact of women’s family responsibilities, personal health problems and transportation problems on absenteeism. Many women employees at Hemas Hospital find it hard to achieve their desired combination of work and family time. For example, family responsibilities appear to constrain a woman’s choice of occupation. Women taking leave due to illnesses of children or their elder parents.
3.2 Less productivity
Due to personal health problems, lack of rewards and appreciations and tight work schedules employees’ productivity getting reduced. This situation is not good for a working place like hospital. Productivity is one of the most important factors when it comes to work. When employees are not healthy they are unable to work properly. Therefore their productivity comes down and the job they do cannot be performed properly. When working in a hospital, the employees have to work very effective manner, because they are the savers of patients’ lives. It will be a big disaster if they forget or neglect to give proper medicine or giving wrong medicine to a patient. This would highly affect to Hemas hospital if they do not work properly up to the standard.
“While the majority of “reasons” for dissatisfaction usually point to elements of the workplace itself such as: management style, environmental conditions or opportunities for growth, lack of rewards and appreciations, tight work schedules etc.” (“A guide to grow your personal growth”, n.d.).
It was found that especially nurses are dissatisfied with their job. Due to this they may move towards competitors or leave the job. Therefore Hemas Hospital has to consider ways of minimizing the work dissatisfaction.
Stress is the most hated part of the job of healthcare employees. This can be occurring due to personal health problems, women’s’ family commitments and tight working schedules. Therefore it leads nurses to be dissatisfied with their work. Due to the dissatisfaction they will not perform efficiently and effectively through less performance. Furthermore their loyalty for the company will be less and will tend to move towards competitors or leave the job.
One of the respondents at the Hemas hospital said that, “Too much pressure on this shift… Scanty facilities… very meager…you feel really exhausted…amounting to tensions and conflicts which are often displaced onto people around…you know…yelling at colleagues…”
3.5 High employment turnover
This can be happened due to all of the causes mentioned above. More than the cultural influences nursing is a more stressful and challenging job therefore it’s a must to recognize them as very precious for the hospital to make them retain in the hospital. The impact of turnover has received considerable attention by senior management, human resources professionals, and industrial psychologists.
It has proven to be one of the most costly and seemingly intractable human resource challenges confronting organizations. Analyses of the costs associated with turnover yield surprisingly high estimates. The high cost of losing key employees has long been recognized. When consider the Hemas Hospital the situation also same. It appears high employment turnover, especially nurses.
3.6 Work overload for other employees
Due to health problems and family commitment some employees cannot perform their duties to the expected level. So others will have to carry out the sick employees work load too. Some times since they haven’t time to fulfill the work load they might not do even their assigned duties properly. They do not care about the patients very well. Then again it will affect to the overall performance of the Hemas hospital.
In addition, inadequate facilities, improper functioning of other employees and neglected responsibilities created pressure and conflict among the personnel. These inadequacies eventually reduced the tolerance threshold, which in turn contributed to the conflict experienced.
One of the respondents at Hemas hospital said that, “We can’t ignore the fact that heavy workload and shortage of skilled human resources affect our performance; despite our effort to get used to the situation, we are limited in coping. When you see that the supervisor stops backing us up and never steps into the ward to listen to us it makes us feel our rights have been violated.”
4.1 Paternity leave
Paternity leave is the time a father takes off work at the birth or adoption of a child. This kind of leave is rarely paid. A few progressive companies offer new dads paid time off, ranging from a few days to a few weeks. Hemas Hospital can arrange paternity leave for doctors and therefore can avoid the absenteeism and dissatisfaction towards the job.
4.2 Dependent care arrangements
Many nurses will be faced with issues of child or adult care giving. Without adequate support, these can create a host of distractions from work. There are many ways that the Hemas Hospital can support their nurses with their personal responsibilities. Some of the ways are on or off site child and adult care centers, lactation programs, dependent care referrals, etc.
4.3 Job sharing
Job sharing is a form of permanent part-time work in which a full-time position is divided between two or more people, each of whom shares responsibility for the entire workload. Each job sharer receives conditions of employment and entitlements on a pro-rata basis in proportion to the hours worked. Job share arrangements are suitable for both professional and academic positions. A change from full-time work to a job sharing arrangement does not break continuity of employment.
Job share arrangements can facilitate increased workplace flexibility because job sharers can relieve or cover for each other without loss in efficiency and effectiveness. Hemas Hospital also can implement this program and can get the maximum benefit out of it.
4.4 Flexible work schedules
A flexible work schedule is a type of flexible work arrangement that allows employees to vary when they begin and end their work day to accommodate their individual and family needs. This flexibility greatly eases the burden of busy employees as they try to juggle their work and home lives Flexible work schedules benefits both employees and organization it self.
For employees Increased satisfaction and productivity, reduced stress and health care costs, decreased absenteeism and reduced commuting time. For organizations improved retention and reduced turnover, higher levels of loyalty and commitment ,no change in manager’s supervisory time, attracts diverse employees who may not be able to conform to rigid schedules (i.e., disabled)
As a result if the hospital is not rewarding nurses well the Sri Lankan culture influences them to be not loyal towards hospital and as well to perform poorly. If an employee appreciated or rewarded it will influence them to work hardly than the before and also motivate to keep the work and personal life in a balance. For that reason this is the best time for Hemas to start an appropriate rewarding and appreciation system for their nurses to make them satisfy and happy situation between work and life.
5.1 Short Term
Out of the number of solutions available, according to the situation, a strategy needs to be developed according to the problem but this would consume lots of time and energy to be done, So till a proper strategy is developed, in the short term the hospital can reward employing workers with an incentive programmed to facilitate them to balance their work /life.Hemas Hospital can reward financial non financial incentives to encourage their work force. Under financial incentives they can grant child vouchers and can have a special funding system for employees’ children. Furthermore the management of Hemas Hospital can introduce a transportation allowance system for the employees who come from distance areas. Under non financial incentive system Hemas Hospital can arrange family friends’ benefits or annual trips or get together, so that they have sometime to spend their leisure time with their colleagues. Furthermore nurses can be given promotions, scholarships or they can select best nurse annually to encourage nurses.
5.2 Long Term
But in the long term proper strategy should be developed to address this problem, because incentives cannot be a solution for all the problems of the employees. While developing strategies the different situations of nurses need to be considered to facilitate them. Providing a flexible work options is a good method that could be developed, because job satisfaction is directly connected to a persons work schedule, especially to a nurse’s healthy mentality it is very important when dealing with patients.
“A variety of schedule options could be made available to fit their priorities and life styles.
Three 12-hour shifts
Five 8-hour shifts
A combination of 8 and 12-hour shifts
A combination of 8 and 12-hour shifts
This program is an appealing option for nurses who are in school or who care for children during the week. This option provides short-term disability coverage.
Weekend nurses work 24 hours each weekend
They receive pay equivalent to 32 or 36 hours
The schedule begins Friday at 7:30 a.m. and ends Monday at 7:30 a.m.
This option is appealing to nurses who want to work fewer hours but maintain a relationship with their unit and with Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
Casual nurses work 40 hours during a 6-week schedule
Nurses may choose the flexibility and variety of working on multiple units through the Float Pool. Float Pool nurses are required to work two weekend shifts per month.
Dynamic scheduling to accommodate personal work requirements.
Many nursing units offer nurses a Self Schedule option. They are able to select the days on the upcoming schedule they want to work. When their manager creates the schedule, he or she will balance the schedule requests with current patient needs in the unit” (“Careers”, n.d.).
The best recommendation would be to make available lots of flexible work schedule options and offer the nurses with a self schedule option, so that they can use choose a schedule according to their life style. These work options should be for the mutual benefit of both the employee and the employer so that employee can fulfill their responsibility towards their work place and as well as their families.
There is a big difference between doing things and getting something done. Most work-life efforts by HR and work-life balance teams fail despite lots of doing. The problem is that all the doing didn’t get anything done.
If the organization wants to get something done that produces strong positive results and feedback, it should be start by taking an action in order to ensure success. Good work-life balance seems to be something that well-run firms in competitive markets do naturally. They need to treat their employees well to keep them – if not; their competitors will hire them away. Government policies on work-life balance should take this into account.
Whether the organization just introducing a work-life program or making an already great one better, the organization will be substantially improving its bottom line results and changing individuals’ lives for the better. To be an effective worker he/she has maintain a better balance in between work life and the personal life. We can see that there is a clear link between causes for the conflicts and effects of them. So that if Hemas can implement the above mentioned recommendations we think that Hemas can be the best hospital by getting the maximum use of their employees while providing them a conflicts free work life environment. Hence the entire organization and employees will be proud of the results.
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