The objective of this research is to examine how business managers should deal with the work-life balance issues of their employees. This will be accomplished by conducting a review of the literature in this area of study and will include previous studies and reports of an academic and professional peer-reviewed nature.
The present economy has made the survival of businesses a challenging pursuit with climbing costs of labor not to mention the operating expense for a business. However, flexibility is a primary characteristic of the business that will survive the present economic slump. In addition to the present state of the economy a report published by the Society for Human Resource Management and specifically the 'Workplace Forecast' relates that 57% of human resources professionals "agreed that there will be an increased demand for work-life balance in the coming years." (Avats, 2010, p.1) In a separate study reported by the Society for Human Resource Management it is related that difficulty, relating to work-life balance was the culprit of 41% of the problems with employee retention.
I. Flexible Working and Work-Life Balance
Avats (2010) relates that the terms 'flexible working' and 'work-life balance' are interpreted differently by different individuals. Flexible working generally means "a way to ensure staff availability at the right times to meet customer demand" to the employer while work-life balance to the employee means "freedom to pursue outside interests, whether leisurely pursuits, education, or family commitments, and to schedule work around these activities." (Avats, 2010, p.1) Because of these different conceptual views of what is really meant by these terms there is reported to be "a daily battle of managing the conflicts between staff preferences and business need." (Avats, 2010, p.1)
The solution according to Avats (2010) is the use of technological advances "such as workforce management (WFM) technology." (p.1) It is reported that WFM technology has been shown to "reduce the number of hours supervisors spend producing and managing schedules by as much as 80%." (Avats, 2010, p.1) This as well, may translate "into thousands- even millions -- of dollars or more in savings per year, as well as productivity and revenue gains from higher employee satisfaction and customer service." (Avats, 2010, p. 1)
Working patterns changes that are designed in a rush or which are not properly designed are not productive however, it is reported that "WFM solutions take into account the impact of employee schedule preferences, sickness, training, meetings and many other work/availability exceptions, and automatically factor these into the schedule." (Avats, 2010, p.1)
II. Conditions Prompting Business Change of Workforce Plan
The work of Kubal and Newman (2008) entitled "Work-Life Balance Becoming a Key Tool for Retention" reports that conditions that appear to prompt organizations to make changes to their work scheduling plans include the following:
(1) There's a revenue or market-share crisis in the business; that is, the top and/or bottom line is thinning; (2) Organizational transformation is under way; (3) There are chronic shortages of qualified talent; (4) Outside organizations are "plundering" the incumbent employee population; (5) The organization realizes the high cost of turnover; (6) It's the "natural" next step, given the underpinnings of the family-friendly culture. (Kubal and Newman, 2008)
III. Nine Success Factors
According to Kubal and Newman (2008) there are nine success factors to establishing and maintaining a manageable work-life balance initiative for the organizations. Those nine include the following:
(1) Find your fit -- Flexible schedules are reported to be a privilege rather than a right. Flexible working schedules are not right for every individual or every situation (2) Focus on retention -- Those who support flexible work arrangements must keep their eyes on the 'big picture' of retention of employees and employee satisfaction. High potential employees requesting reduced work hours or a flexible working schedule "makes sense to find a solution rather than stick to rigid rules. It is stated that if the organization wants their employees "to bring both their heads and hearts to work, you can't expect them to check their lives at the door" ( ); (3) clarify responsibility; (4) Invest in communication; (5) secure CEO and executive management team buy-in; (6) equip employees; (7) Employee self-management; (8) withhold value judgments; (9) embrace the whole employee. (p.1)
IV. 'How' to Improve Work-Life Balance
The work of Leigh Buchanan (2010) entitled "How To Improve Your Employees' Work-Life Balance" states that if the organization and its management are to improve the work-life balance…