Work-life balance programme
Success in creating a work-life balance programme is attainable. Nationwide, Britain’s fourth largest mortgage lending company reported that their work-life balance programs have positive results. As part of Nationwide’s strategies to enhance the work environment, they have adopted flexible work schedules. Their flexible arrangements include “part-time working, flexible hours, home working, compressed working week, job share, annualised hours, term-time and shift working” (Anonymous 2003, p. 8).
These options are available to all employees. In addition, the company extended the maternity benefits to include increased maternity leave pay, extended leave duration and phasing their return to work. The company reaped benefits of the work-life balance program. They reported that their employees expressed high job satisfaction. The returnees from maternity leaves increased 93 percent and employee turnover was registered at 9. 7 percent – comparatively lower than industry-wide statistics (p. 8).
The company attributed the success of their work-life balance program to top management commitment and communication initiatives (p. 10). The management has also committed to extend the work-life balance programs to include diversity issues. Lilly UK, a pharmaceutical company also sang praises about the successful implementation of work-life balance programs in their company. Like Nationwide, Lilly also adopted flexible work schedules for their employees. Lilli’s top management recognizes the values of having a work-life balance programme as part of the company strategy for more productivity.
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At Lilli, work-life balance was understood to include men and women, regardless of personal status, should be able to create equilibrium between work and home (McCartney and Evans 2005, p. 5). The programme was launched in 1996. Lilli attributed the success of the flexible working programme to three key elements. The first was the programme enjoyed the support of the top management. Second, “a champion willing to raise its profile and keep it on the organization’s agenda” and third, the presence role models (p. 6). The management also had an efficient system of communication.
Perhaps, the most notable among the measures that would ensure employee well-being was the fact that the management treated each individual as unique. Conclusion Balance is achievable but it takes several factors to make the work-life balance programme goals work. As discussed in the earlier sections, there are mitigating factors that influence the decision of companies to incorporate work-life balance programs into their business strategies. The employees are the prime movers of the company and a dissatisfied work force is always disadvantageous and costly to companies.
The results of the work-life balance programme appeared to be mixed. Almost all the academic research consulted would agree that work-life programmes are beneficial to both the employer and employee. To summarize, the benefits of achieving work-life balance include the recognition that the family is equally important as having productive work; both the management and the employees need to maximize the allocations of their resources in order to attain positive outcomes; motivated employees would tend to deliver more results for the company.
Taking their mind off the pressures of family obligations and integrating those needs with work would allow employees more flexibility. The disadvantages of work-life balance would include the propensity for work-balance programmes to alter business strategies; the implementation of work-balance programmes would translate to costs for the employers; career development and advancement is highly questionable in the flexible work setting. Work-life balance programmes need to be carefully evaluated and scrutinized so that the results of the programmes would affect both employers and employees positively.
Work-life balance initiatives were apparently introduced more as a reactionary legislation than a well-thought proactive solution to the problem of achieving work-life balance. The government belatedly recognized that work-life balance is an important component in providing the best for it labours force. The study recommends that more research should be conducted on the effects of work-life balance programmes on both the employees and employers.
Only then could some conclusions be formed regarding the success or failure of work-life programmes.
Anonymous 2003. Job flexibility and work-life balance pay dividends for Nationwide. Human Resource Management International Digest. Volume 11, Issue no. 1; pp. 8 –11. Bateman,T. n. d. Revisiting Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation [Online]: available at: http://www. commerce. virginia. edu/faculty_research/research/Papers/IMOBHDP24. pdf [Accessed 01 May 2007]