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Work-Life Balance in the Workplace: UK Perspective Essay

“The nature of work has changed in today’s highly competitive environment. Business strategies focus on performance and this has affected how people work, their drive to keep up with the times and the struggle to juggle responsibilities at work and at home. As the hours get longer and the tasks become more complex, it is inevitable that at some point, quality suffers and employee performance deteriorates”. (Parasuraman and Greenhaus 1999, p. 3). In contemporary times, “absentee parent is a common occurrence”.

A 12-hour work schedule is sometimes imperative because employers would demand employees to produce more results to get ahead in the game. Aside from the workplace ecology, “there is also a change in the characteristics of the work force composition”. (Parasuraman and Greenhaus 1999, p. 3). In recent years, more women are entering the labour sector. More workers belong to non-traditional family forms and these had contributed to more conflicts faced by these men and women between work and life requisites (Parasuraman and Greenhaus 1999, p. 3).

The Human Resource Management role is also changing brought about by the demands of globalization. Work-life balance issues are now included in human resource management strategies. A few decades ago, the role of human

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resource management has not been associated with company performance. Companies during those periods did not put much importance of human resources as a key driving force in defining the influencing the progressive direction of the company. Today, human resources represent the strength of a company.

In the present business climate, human resource management has shed its traditional role of merely affecting the hiring and training of potential employees. Today’s Human Resource Management also defines core competencies that are considered as crucial in implementing effective human resource management strategies. Traditional views regarding an employee’s role in policy formation will no longer be applicable in this technology driven industry. “Integrating work, people, technology, and information into the core competencies of the company will ensure that goals are met”.

The purpose of this paper is to conduct an inventory on the results of Work-Life Balance. In recent years, several studies had been conducted on the positive and negative consequences of implementing work-life balance at the workplace. Presently, the implementation of work-life balance is still mixed because the government did not consider making the initiative mandatory. Tracing the background of what work-life balance is all about would give both employer and employees a clearer picture on how each would benefit from the proposition.

In the ensuing sections of the paper, work-life balance would be discussed in detail. A review of related literature would present the varied opinions and study results that would contribute to better understanding of the work-life balance proposition. Defining Work-Life Balance The UK government recognizes the imbalance between work and family that a section on work-life balance was included in the Employment Act of 2002. The law recommended that employees with a minimum of six months service and had children below 18 years old, can opt to avail more flexible work schedules to fulfil their responsibilities as parents.

However, the requisite was not mandatory and employers had the option to comply or not (Gennard 2003, p. 131). Work-life balance issues have become a primary concern for human resource management. The human resource manager of a company must ensure the total well being of employees so that they will be able to perform better and meet company goals. The incidence of employee attrition and turnover is a good indicator of work environment quality. Failure to recognize that employees also need a life beyond the place of work will have a detrimental effect on the company’s bottom line.

Achieving balance in the work and home environment has been one of the focuses of the British government in improving the welfare of the workers. According to Robert Taylor (n. d. ), the employee demographics had changed in recent years. About 70 percent of the women in dual-income households with children below 18 opted to join the work force. A steep rise in employment rate in the last decade was attributed to women with children aged 4 under (p. 7).

Work-life conflicts occurred in two directions: one, work intruding into family life and two, family interfering with productivity at work (Batt and Valcuor 2003, p. 192). This situation has forced employers to rethink their position regarding their employees’ welfare. Institutional pressures demand that employers take a more active role in facilitating their workers’ ability to meet the demands of both work and family. Wood et al (2003) described institutional pressures to include “regulations, norms, laws, and social expectations” (p. 223).

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