Work deserve reward
The mindset of people about employees putting in more time at work deserve rewards is still the prevailing practice. The work-life balance incentive that should have done wonders to the employee’s psyche has become another unwanted pressure. The management still views part-time work or reduced load work as “marginal activity” and they generally consider “part-time” work different from full work loads (Dick and Hyde 2006, p. 347). Archaic management views regarding requisites for optimum employee performance did not jive with the purpose of work-life balance.
Management still maintain that employee visibility in the work place is an important factor in productivity issues. They equate physical presence with commitment (Christensen 1999, p. 27). Management has the tendency to lump together employees into a single uniform entity without taking into consideration that different individuals do have varying needs. Applying uniform policy on work schedules regardless of employees’ capability to fulfil those requirements has put additional strain on workers’ ability to keep up with company policies.
Gender issues continue to haunt women entering the labour force. Some companies are hesitant to place women in critical positions especially when family and personal needs take priority. Today’s businesses require that employees give their undivided attention to their work or lose their tenure. Management sees little value in the family experience. They do not associate a successful family life with productivity. Peter Senge disagreed with that view and posited that “we cannot build an effective organization “on the foundation of broken homes and strained personal relationships.
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” (Christensen 1999, p. 28). In human resource management’s view, a healthy family life is a predictor of an employee’s performance as future managers of the company. Within the human resource management segment, there are resistors to transitions as a consequence of applying work-life balance strategies to enhance employee performance. The human resource department often fall prey to cost-cutting procedures of management. Hence, work-life balance strategies are considered as “needless expense” (Christensen 1999, p. 29).
The social contract established between employers and employees takes on a more complex relationship in this technology-driven business environment. A new paradigm illustrating the relationships among family, work and community must form the basis of a new social contract between employers and employees. People must strike a new social balance that will contravene the prevailing practice of arranging family and life around work (Wohl 1999, p. 18). Today’s work does not guarantee tenure and former agreements involving long-term arrangements are no longer plausible.
Long-term commitment is a thing in the past as mobility at work is encouraged. However, many employees still would prefer the stability of a permanent tenure to support their families’ growing needs. They also made it clear that there were compelling needs that needed attention at home and they would be impossible to ignored. Priorities also have changed regarding work and family. While employees consider having a permanent job as advantageous to their families, there was a need to address issues about balancing quality life at work and at home (Wohl 1999,pp. 18-19).
Contemporary workers are torn between “performing at a high level at work, while maintaining a strong commitment to one’s family at the same time” (Wohl 1999, p. 20). Finally, the work-life balance programmes that the UK government promulgated as part of the Employment Act of 2002 was not compulsory in nature. Therefore, expect more gaps in addressing the problem of achieving work-life balance in the work place. As the business environment continues to evolve into new paradigms, the problem that was central to work-life balance will still remain. Not all companies participated and created their own work-life balance programs.
Achieving work-life balance is apparently challenging. Spinks (2004) enumerated the prerequisites to a successful program to include the support of employer, co-worker, families and the community (p. 5). As illustrated in the two cases, without management concurrence to the measures to ensure successful implementation of the programme, success would be empty. The company top management’s consent is an essential element in work-life balance programs. The approach therefore to resolving work-life issues should be a cooperative effort between the employer and employees.