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Human Resources

Work life balance is a concept that seeks to promote more fulfilling lives for workers in today’s business environment. It encourages workers not to let work overtake their other roles, activities and hobbies in life. This way, neither work nor the other activities or roles suffer due to overemphasis on the other. (Haplin, Nick, 2003) The work environment today puts a lot of pressure on the workers and they end up spending more time at the workplace. The boundaries between work and personal time are not clearly defined. Personal issues may also interfere with a worker’s ability to perform.

These imbalances necessitate the adoption of the work-life balance concept. Workers may extend their work in to their personal time due to pressure from employers who institute mandatory overtime. Workers may also work longer due to job insecurity resulting from outsourcing. Work may also interfere with a worker life where the employer deals in international business carried out in different time zones. Technological evolution also makes the workers accessible all the time even in after-office hours. Workers on their part may take up overtime voluntarily to boost their earning in the face of big financial obligations.

They may also engage in overtime in

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a bid to get promoted. (Mayo clinic staff, 2006) The effect of work interference in to personal time may be exhibited by worker’s fatigue, which may result in poorly done work and ill health. The worker’s productivity and job satisfaction is affected. Work also strains other roles the worker has such as that of a parent, spouse, carer or friend. A worker who consistently works overtime may end up receiving greater workload and may not be able to take time off later when he or she wants to. This imbalance leads to stress-related problems ranging from irritability, heart problems and drug dependence.

The workers sexual life may also suffer further straining the spousal role. (Burns, B. 2000: 45) Work-life balance is beneficial to the worker in that he or she is able to manage their time better achieve greater productivity and perform other roles fully. This leads to stable families and lowers anti-social behaviour promoting societal stability. To an organization work-life balance is beneficial in that it enhances employees’ productivity through greater general satisfaction and better health. The work is of greater quality and is more competitive.

Work life balance also grants greater autonomy to the worker to get the work done. The work is more flexible and the worker can map it out to allow for absenteeism. The worker also identifies with the organization and is proud to work for it. Their morale is boosted and they achieve greater productivity and lowers absenteeism. The organization is also able to attract and retain top choice employees who find the work environment to be appealing and the jobs fulfilling. Work/life balance also ensures that the organization complies with various labour laws that protect workers’ rights.

Greater employee satisfaction may result in better customer service. Organizations also gain from a more stable society as vices such as crime and anti-social behaviours committed by people from broken-up families are reduced. (Hogg, Clare, 2001) Different employees have different needs and it would be impossible to come up with a single work-life balance program that is suitable to all employees. The employers have to cater for all workers in their development of work/life balance program. They should study different groups of employees.

Women have bigger familial obligations especially when nursing and raising children. They require a program that will enable them to work more at home than at the office and travel less. Those taking care of aged parents who require close attention may also not be able to work much away from home. (Bloom N, et al, 2006) Young and non-energetic people may work longer than the elderly. Some work may not require presence of the worker at the office at all times. Some employees may prefer to set some time aside for community service. Other employees may be taking up studies and require a work schedule that favours them.

The organization has to come up with varied flexible programs to meet the diverse needs of different workers while at the same time ensuring the organization goals are achieved. Such programs include working from home, working part time, variable working hours, basing performance on results rather than on hours put in and job sharing. The organizations should also grant study leaves and sabbaticals. (Hirschhorn Larry, 2002: 104) Employers do have ethical motivations to adopt work life balance apart from business reasons. Corporations are trying to regain a worker friendly image through adoption of programs such as work/life balance program.

Their drives for profit and unrelenting pressure on employees have earned them an image of slave drivers. Through work/life balance programs, organizations are able to foster stable households and benefit the whole society at large. Employees who are also parents may be able to nurture and mould their children in to law-abiding and socially upright individuals due to their close contact. (Bailyn, L, et al, 2001: 186) Organizations may be also be motivated by the desire to help their employees provide care to their elderly relations.

The employee is not forced into putting their relatives in homes for the aged where they may not get attention or attachment they deserve. Organizations may also be motivated in ensuring gender balance in employment. This is because women are most burdened by familial obligations that make it hard for women to work long and intensely. Emphasis on long working days would drive women out of employment or in low paying jobs regardless of their skills and abilities. (Fleetwood, Steve 2006) If Kraemer did not himself balance out his life work at Baxter International and support the work/life balance plan would not function well.

When Kraemer adopts the balanced work/life lifestyle, he inspires other employees to follow suit. He sets himself up as a role model that the employees can follow. By endorsing the plan, Kraemer gives the employees a sense of security in adopting it. Employees would not be bold enough to take up the plan if the top management didn’t support it for fear of a backlash. They would not be comfortable working fewer hours or working away from the office for fear of being fired or victimized. (UNISON, 2007). Olson would work in the office even when it is clear that he gets more work done when he is working at home.

They may fear that they might be overlooked during promotions and reward programs if the top management deemed them to be lazy and revolutionary. The human resource department plays a critical role in the success a work/life plan. It should study the various needs of diverse employees to make programs that are relevant to all. It should then harmonize these employee needs with the business goals. The department should also come up with employee appraisal methods that takes into account the results and not based merely on hours present in the office.

(Adam, Margaret, 2002) The department should also come up with clear guidelines that enables the employees select a program that complements well with other obligations in life. These guidelines should ensure that while organizational goals are met, they do not invade an employee’s personal time. The department is also responsible for passing on full information on the various programs available to the employees. It also has to carry out regular progress checks and improvement on the programs to meet new challenges or requirements.

Finally, the HR department also has to ensure the organization employment policy keeps within the changing labour laws. (Clutterbuck, David 2003).

Reference: Mayo Clinic Staff. Jun 1 2006. Work Life Balance: Ways To Restore Harmony And Reduce Stress. Retrieved On 01/11/08 from http://www. mayoclinic. com/health/work-life-balance/WL00056 Burns, B. 2000. Managing Change: A Strategic Approach Organizational Dynamics 3rd Prentice Hall Pp 45. Hirschhorn Larry, 2002. Campaign For Change. Harvard Business Review July 2002, 98-104 Hogg, Clare, 2001. Work-Life Balance. CIPD. Retrieved On 01/10/08 from http://www. cipd. co.uk/subjects/wrkgtime/wrktmewrklfbal/worklifeba. htm? IsSrchRes=1 Clutterbuck, David 2003.

Managing Work-Life Balance: A Guide To HR In Achieving Organizational And Individual Change CIPD. Bloom N, Kretschmer, T and Van Reenen, 2006. Work/Life Balance, Management Practices And Productivity. London Centre For Economic Performance. Retrieved On 01/10/08 from http://cep. lse. ac. uk/management/worklifebalance_research. pdf Fleetwood, Steve 2006. Lancaster University Management School Working Paper 2006/04: Why Work Life Balance Now? Retrieved On 01/10/08 from http://www. lums. lancs. ac. uk/publications/viewpdf/004344/ Adam, Margaret, 2002.

Work Life Balance Making Sense Of Work Life Balance: To Tips For HR Professionals. People Management Retrieved On 01/10/08 from http://www. peoplemanagement. co. uk/pm/articles/7360. htm? name=work-life+balance&type=subject Haplin, Nick, 2003. Work Life Balance – An Overview. Worklifebalancecentre. org. Retrieved on 01/11/08 from http://www. worklifebalancecentre. org/nickhalpinl. php UNISON, 2007. Work Life Balance: The Case For Work Life Balance. Retrieved on 01/11/08 from http://www. unison. org. uk/worklifebalance/casefor. asp Bailyn, L, Pruitt, B and Joyce Fletcher, 2001. Beyond Work-Family Balance. John Wiley And Sons, pp 186.

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