Work vs Life Balance the Thesis

  • Length: 30 pages
  • Sources: 15
  • Subject: Careers
  • Type: Thesis
  • Paper: #58655658

Excerpt from Thesis :

Wood indicates that "everyone has different motivations and aspirations that they wish to achieve in their life. Work-life balance is about adjustments that can be made to working patterns to enable people to combine work with the other facets of their life. Bratton and Gold (2003: 105) de-ne work-life balance as, 'the relationship between the institutional and cultural times and spaces of work and non-work in societies where income is predominantly generated and distributed through labour markets.'" (p. 388) This implicates various aspects of one's working experience, including the manner in which one's responsibility's are balanced with one's personal needs; the degree to which social needs are constructed within the workplace; and the manner in which the employer goes about providing opportunities for attendance of personal needs for employees. This definition is also underscored by the basic assumption that employee morale and work/life balance are inextricable and that, additionally, these two features are inextricable from performance outcomes. This assumption is underscored by the research produced by Joshi et al. (2002) which centers its discussion on work/life balance on the issues of single parenting, the provision of daycare to employee children and access to telecommuting opportunities. Joshi et al. find indicate the connection between performance and the provision of work/life balance programs and benefits. Joshi et al. indicate that "for U.S. companies, work-life balance offers a competitive advantage, in that they are able to recruit the best candidates and potentially increase their loyalty to the company." (p. 11)

To this point, research denotes that an organization's performance success will be inherently based on the ability of leadership to administrate positive working experiences, a health organizational culture and the high morale which associates to quality personnel performance. This means that an organization must find ways to maintain a high level of worker satisfaction and to measure this satisfaction according to clearly defined performance expectations. Current research highlights the necessity of such a system, with Aryee et al. (2005) contending that there is a direct relationship between employee morale and employee performance. The article by Aryee et al. indicates that this relationship is particularly impacted by the degree to which the employing organization facilitates a healthy balance between work life and family life. By recognizing the economic implications of higher worker satisfaction levels, a company is inclined to implement certain policies which prioritize time for family, friends and socializing outside of the workplace. Available research endorses this as a more effective way of yielding positive employee performances than through micromanagement, individual production quotas or aggressive overtime policies. Indeed, Aryee et al. argue that these latter strategies tend to produce negative emotional and psychological experiences for the employee. The researchers argue that "Role overload describes a perception of having too many things to do and not enough time to do them (Caplan, Cobb, French, Harrison, & Pinneau, 1975). Work overload has been found to be positively related to work -- family and family -- work conflict." (Aryee et al., 134)

Aryee et al. make the argument that too great an impingement upon the worker's personal time will cause the invasion of negative feelings and distractive resentment during work hours. Moreover, Aryee et al. produce the positive counterpoint to this finding, indicating that where the company achieves higher levels of accommodation for balance, it will observe positive outcomes in terms of personnel orientation. Aryee et al. report on this point that within the scope of their research, "work-family facilitation was related to the work outcomes of job satisfaction and organizational commitment" (p. 132).

To an extent, this reinforces the findings in the research by Hall & Richter (1989) which remarks that in recent decades, employers have begun to reconsider the implications of the work-family balance. Frequently, in the past, organizations have attempted to redress what they view as the predominance of work-life by creating family functions there within. This includes such practices as company picnics, spousal social clubs and onsite daycare services. However, as Hall & Richer report, the changing needs in the lives of the current generation of worker requires a consideration of this approach. Indeed, the discontent still experienced by personnel at many firms which offer these types of benefits suggests that changes in the culture and in the life needs of Generation Y workers is imposing discord between current work/life balance tactics and those which might bring the practicing firm a return on its investment. In this instances, it is of value to note that the failure of some firms to facilitate work/life balance is not a consequence of neglect as much as it is a consequence of outmoded thinking. Hall & Richter indicate that "while many current organizational and personal methods of coping with work/home tensions entail greater integration of the two domains, Hall and Richter find that what employees really need is to have clear boundaries and some degree of separation between their work and home lives." (Hall & Richter, 213)

This underscores an emergent challenge for the modern firm not just to propose solutions to the traditional problems of maintaining family and home-life in light of work responsibilities but for the firm to work to truly gain an understanding for what this means. The Hall & Richter study centers on the premise that this understanding is lacking, attributed largely to the holdover of assumptions from previous generations of worker. Changes in information technology, various departures over recent decades from traditional assumptions about family structure and the ever-refining imperative to achieve a level of multicultural sensitivity have all impacted the way that employees experience their work responsibilities. The text by Hall & Richter expresses the concern that many firms and organizational theorists have not evolved in their perspective to accommodate these changes. To this point, Hall & Richter indicate that "many organizations value the importance of work/home balance and have a sincere desire to address it. However, despite their concern, they simply do not know how to approach the question." (p. 213) Based on this argument, the Hall & Richter article helps to support the major prerogative driving the research process conducted hereafter.

Building on the claims produced by Hall & Richter, evidence suggests that there is a need for the evolving firm to develop programs which specifically encourage and enable greater dedication and attention to one's family life. Existing pilot programs have raised the emphasis on certain modes of greater flexibility with respect to work hours and work days, allowing individuals to create somewhat more personalized schedules based on their needs outside of work. Such a program is discussed in the research by Hill et al. (2004), which identifies job flexibility as a feature which improves both one's family life and the morale which one brings to work. Both features are shown in the research to connect to positive work role performance and job outcomes. Accordingly, Hill et al. report that "perceived job flexibility is related to improved work-family balance after controlling for paid work hours, unpaid domestic labor hours, gender, marital status, and occupational level. Perceived job flexibility appears to be beneficial both to individuals and to businesses. Given the same workload, individuals with perceived job flexibility have more favorable work-family balance. Likewise, employees with perceived job flexibility are able to work longer hours before workload negatively impacts their work-family balance." (Hill et al., 49)

To this end, Hill et al. make the case that job flexibility does not bear a direct relationship to a reduction in workload -- a concern which may be identified as chief among those for organizational leaders balking at making too many employee allowances. But in cases such as production settings, where the speed and efficiency of output are equivalent to profitability, it is important to find ways to offset the imbalance between work and family without impeding on the labor needs of the operation. Therefore, work hour and work day flexibility emerges as a sensible counterpoint to the concerns raised by Aryee et al. regarding overload without compromising the ability of an organization to maintain its expected production and output rates.

Quite to the point, a dominant finding in the Literature Review section of the present research is that productivity during the hours in use is directly impacted by a greater sense of satisfaction with one's life outside of work. The distracting impulses which divert one's work focus and make the prioritizing of work role responsibilities difficult may often be magnified by the sense that the job itself detains an individual from attending to his or her personal life. In the study by Fagnani & Letablier (2004), a pilot program which demanded a five hour cut in the work-week amongst manufacturing firms would result in largely positive experiences for personnel both with respect to their familial obligations and in connection to their work-role attitudes and performance. Fagnani & Letbalier report of their survey that "six out of ten respondents reported a positive impact of the reduction on their work/family balance. Their judgment is dependent on…

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