The purpose of this paper is to explain the importance of work-life balance in an effective management of employees in contemporary organizations. The paper constitutes a brief introduction to the concept and a comprehensive discussion on how a good work-life balance of employees increases their morale, motivation, and commitment which ultimately contribute towards their superior workplace performance and higher organizational productivity.
Work-life balance means how employees are able to split their time and energy to manage their personal and professional lives in such a fashion that neither of them is negatively affected by the other (Eikhof, Warhurst, & Haunschild 2007). Work-life balance allows them to give time to their family commitments, personal care, community participation, and other personal life activities along with fulfilling the demands of their professional life (Saxena 2009). It is the responsibility of employers to formulate policies and procedures for their employees that can assist them in achieving a good work-life balance. In contemporary organizations, work-life balance has been gaining importance due to its direct impact on the effective management of employees at the workplace. It not only increases the employees' performance, morale, and motivation, but also contributes in improving the overall organizational productivity through its workforce (Albion 2004).
Work-life balance refers to all those options which lead towards an effective management of time, resources, and energy between personal commitments and professional life. For this purpose, employees can demand flexible working arrangements, work timings, daily or weekly schedules, and level of job stress (Robbins & Coulter 2006). Work-life balance enables them to fulfill their job responsibilities at the workplace and family commitments at their home in an effective and efficient way. With the increasing demands of employees for their personal and professional life balance, self-efficacy, self-actualization, and monetary needs, providing flexible working options has been becoming more and more challenging for their employers (Saxena 2009).
Keeping in view these increasing demands and challenges, the employers in contemporary organizations have begun redesigning and restructuring their industrial relations management policies. They provide various kinds of opportunities to their employees to assist them in achieving a good work-life balance. These opportunities include opportunities flexible working schedules, paid time offs (PTO) on regular basis, leaves on cultural events and community festivals, free participation with family members in different types of activities and trips, etc.
Importance of Work-Life Balance in Effective Management of Employees at the Workplace:
On one side, work-life balance is important for the employees to fulfill their personal and professional life demands; while at the same time, it assists the managers in enhancing the overall organizational productivity through these employees. Modern research studies in the field of industrial relations management, human resource management, and organizational behavior have found that work-life balance is the leading factor in increasing an employee's morale and satisfaction with his employer (Pedersen & Lewis 2012).
Swanberg & Simmons (2008) believe that a good work-life balance gives mental satisfaction to the employees by making them free from the worries of their personal life when they are at the workplace. Similarly, once they leave the workplace after completing their work shift, they are free to give time to their family, friends, and community without being worried about their job tasks or assignments for the next day. Work-life disorder is often faced by female employees who need to give proper time to their family and children. If they fail to do so, they have to leave the job (Moore, Johns, & Johnson 2006). This is one major reason why employers do not consider female employees for higher level management positions (Metz 2011). The following points explain the importance of work-life balance for an effective management of employees at the workplace in contemporary organizations:
i. Intrinsic Motivation:
Intrinsic motivation comes from inside when employers show true concern for their employees while designing their policies and procedures. Work-life balance can be a major source of intrinsic motivation if employers fully cooperate with their employees in managing their personal and professional commitments in an effective and efficient way. For this purpose, employers need to provide flexible working options and opportunities to their employees. These options make the employees more satisfied with their employers. As a result, they work more productively for the success of their organization (Robbins & Coulter 2006).
ii. Improvement in the Job Performance:
When employees are mentally satisfied with their personal and professional life, they work more happily and dedicatedly at the workplace. A smart manager uses flexible working options, paid time offs (PTO), and other opportunities as strong motivational and performance management tools. For this purpose, he assesses the current performance of every employee individually and looks at his working schedules. If he finds that the employee is taking work pressure and is unable to achieve the desired level of performance, he provides more relaxed working options to release this pressure from his mind and help him in achieving higher level of productivity (Robbins & Coulter 2006).
iii. Less Absenteeism and Turnover:
Happy and satisfied employees work longer than unhappy, frustrated, and dishearten employees. Research has found that a good work-life balance has a significant positive impact on an organization's employee turnover and rate of absenteeism. When an employee is able to adjust his time, resources, and energy between his professional responsibilities and family commitments, he takes fewer leaves or short time-offs from his employer. In this way, he is able to meet the expectations of his workplace supervisors. Similarly, if he is satisfied with his working schedules and arrangements along with other monetary and non-monetary concerns, he does not think of switching to a better job. Both these things help the managers in controlling the rate of absenteeism and turnover for their organizations. Thus, if all organizational members are able to achieve a good balance in their personal and professional lives, they stay longer with their organization which is ultimately helpful in saving and minimizing the heavy costs of recruiting and training new employees (Eikhof, Warhurst, & Haunschild 2007).
iv. A Sense of Respect:
Some employers provide an opportunity to their employers to choose their own working schedules and job arrangements so that they can better achieve a work-life balance. In addition to increasing the morale and job satisfaction of employees, this opportunity creates a feeling in their minds that their employer cares for them and provides them an option to make decision about their working schedules themselves. They feel to have been valued and respected by their employer. In this way, they perform their job responsibilities more dedicatedly and feel more comfortable working for this employer (Saxena 2009).
v. Sharing Machineries, Tools, and Equipments:
Some organizations lack of physical resources, equipments, and workers. Providing work-life balance opportunities to their workers is helpful for these organizations in saving the costs of purchasing new machineries, equipments, and tools. The workers who work in different shifts and weekly schedules can share these equipments with each other and help their organizations in saving their operational costs.
vi. Performance Appraisal and Succession Planning:
It is clear that work-life balance has a direct impact on the performance of employees at the workplace. Managers in contemporary organizations also use it to measure and appraise the performance of their employees for the purposes of identifying the ones who are more serious, regular, and punctual at their job duties than the rest. The employees who seldom take full leaves or short time-offs are considered loyal and satisfied with their current job. Converse to them, those who frequently stay absent are considered non-serious and less satisfied (Robbins & Coulter 2006).
This performance appraisal is largely helpful for the managers in doing succession planning for their organization -- a process by which lower level employees are promoted to higher level job positions on the basis of their past performance and dedication to work. In addition to looking over their efficiency in achieving assigned target and in normal routine tasks, the managers also review their number of leaves and short time-offs during a specific period of time. It gives them an idea about their regularity as well as time management and organizational skills which are highly essential for employees to possess in order to get on to higher job responsibilities.
The employees who score higher in these important decisive factors are more preferred for job promotion through succession planning over those who have higher rate of absenteeism or turnover. The same performance appraisal is done when managers are directed by the Top Management to review the current salaries and compensation packages of their employees. Generally, managers recommend pay increments for their subordinates on the basis of their efficiency at the workplace. If an employee stays absent from his job due to his work-life disorder, the managers hesitate to recommend job promotion or pay increment for him. Thus, work-life balance of employees is also important for managers to decide who needs to be motivated, promoted, or even replaced with some other employee in order…