Employees are the most valuable asset that any organization has in their possession. Many times it is difficult for employees to balance their obligations of work, yet still maintain a fulfilling life outside of the workplace. Children's Hospital of Philadelphia recognizes the importance of maintaining a healthy work and home life balance. This research measures the ability to detach from work to get quality leisure time and its impact on employees. The results found that at this organization workers did not have the ability to recover during leisure time. Suggestions were made for improving the situation at the healthcare facility.
Does Leisure Time Affect Work Performance?
Employees are the most valuable asset that any organization has in their possession. Many times it is difficult for employees to balance their obligations of work, yet still maintain a fulfilling life outside of the workplace. Children's Hospital of Philadelphia recognizes the importance of maintaining a healthy work and home life balance. Healthcare is a high stress environment and employees are susceptible to high levels of burnout. Employees that can successfully balance their work and home life are more productive and efficient on the job. Patients receive better quality of care when workers are not burnout and tired while a work. This research will explore the work-life balance program at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Many of these concepts can be applied to other organizations who wish to improve employee productivity and reduce job related stress in their workforce.
In the past, employers paid no attention to work stress in their employees. What the employees did on their free time was their own business, as long as they showed up for work and did their job. However, recently companies have begun to realize that one cannot truly separate their work from the home environment. There is much written about how to maintain a healthy work-life balance. This has led to a rise in companies that coach other companies about how to help their employees maintain a healthy work and life balance. However, despite their popularity, there is little research on maintaining the work-life balance in terms of academic studies. This study will explore research that is available on this topic and will conduct an action research study to explore the topic further.
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia was chosen as the target organization because it is a high stress environment, making the ability to maintain a work and life balance important to the quality of care that patients receive. Hospital workers that are fresh and relatively stress free will provide a more positive environment for the development of patient relationships than those that are stressed and tired. Hospital workers that are refreshed will also be less likely to make potentially harmful and costly mistakes. Maintaining a work- life balance is an issue of quality in the hospital setting. Children's Hospital of Philadelphia has begun a program that directly addresses the issue of employees maintaining a healthy work and life balance.
Action research is relevant to the topic because finding a way to help employees improve their work life balance will have a positive affect on patient outcomes in the hospital. When the nurse enters the floor, the children pick up on nonverbal cues, sometimes more so than the spoken word. The following will explore existing research on the topic of maintaining a work and life balance that allows staff to perform at their best when dealing with this special and fragile population.
A Culture of Workaholics
Part of the concern for the inability to maintain a work and life balance is that Americans have become a culture of workaholics. If someone asks an American how they define themselves, more often not they will name their occupation as opposed to any other attribute of themselves. Americans consider hard work and determination to be a positive attribute. Corporations will accept nothing less than complete dedication from their employees. However, studies are beginning to emerge that indicate that this may not be the best way to motivate employees in to create the best possible workforce. In the past, little to no attention was paid to the work-life balance. Now this topic is beginning to draw some attention and is currently a great debate in the mass media.
Downturns in the economy and the global economy have created a situation where companies must utilize every resource available them to maintain a competitive advantage. This means that employees must often work longer and harder than they did in the past. Companies expect more and employees must be willing to give it or they risk losing their job. Advances in communication make the problem even worse. It is easy for employee to take there work home with them. The boss can text employees after hours or call them, even during family time or leisure time. This creates a situation where employee may feel that they never leave work. This research will explore academic studies on the topic and the importance of maintaining a work-life balance. The following literature review will explore the most recent information on maintaining a work- life balance.
The first resource that we will explore examines how mood relates to how the employee sees work events. The study also explores how they feel in relation to job performance. Rothbard and Wilk (2007) explored how mood at the beginning of the workday affected subsequent events. They found that the employees mood at thebeginning of the day has an impact on how they perceive the moods of others, including customers and fellow workers. Those that were in a good mood performed higher quality work than those who began their day in a negative mood. The study found that negative mood at the beginning of the day had a direct effect on productivity. Mood was a mediator of the events of the rest of the day.
In a study by Sonnetag (2012), the ability to psychologically detach from work during leisure time was explored. The study is important for Children's Hospital workers as they often experience extreme compassion for theie patients. If something at work was particularly disturbing, they may not be able to disengage from work. Working in a hospital can be traumatic and sometimes it may be difficult to let go. The ability to disconnect from work and not think about job-related issues when they are way from the job had an affect on the amount of satisfaction that they feel with their lives. The study found that those that can detach from work experience fewer psychological strain symptoms, while they are still completely engaged at work. The ability to detach from work has a direct correlation to their mood. The study also found a direct correlation between the ability to detach from work during off-hours and job performance. The study also found that negative work environments decrease the ability to detach from work during off-hours. A positive work environment makes it easier for employees to forget about work and enjoy their leisure time activities, which in turn, has a positive affect on reducing job-related stress and on increasing productivity.
Berg & Grant (2010) explore the issue of unanswered "callings" in life during and out of work hours. These authors refer to the phenomenon that many people feel they are working in a job that is unrelated to their true purpose in life. As result, many of them pursue what they feel as their real calling in life outside of work hours. The authors found that when a worker feels their workplaces their true calling, it has a positive effect on mood and productivity. When they feel they must pursue their true callings outside of work, it can lead to regret and negative feelings at work, which in turn had an impact on productivity at work.
Grant, Little & Phillips, (n.d.) explored the affect of personal involvement in the chosen field or workplace. Those that felt personally involved in the work they do often took their work home and were less likely to be able to detach from it. However, when the employee had a personal involvement in their work, it had a positive affect on job satisfaction and productivity. Demorouti, Taris, & Bakker (2007) found that problems at home have a spillover effect on concentration at work and that this lack of concentration had a negative impact on work productivity and performance. When workers cannot recover at home it has a negative affect at work. In addition, the authors found that when work begins to spiral downward, it has a negative affect on the home domain as well. This research supported the need for workplaces to provide and facilitate recovery for employees in their off hours.
The work of Binnewies, Sonnentag, & Mojza (2009) supported findings of many of the other studies found during this review of literature on the work-life balance. They found that when one recovered and felt positive about their work during leisure time, they experienced…