& HR PERSPECTIVE Presented By:- Kumar Lav SBS 932129 PGDM (HR) – IV SEM “If you are losing your leisure, look out; you may be losing your soul”, Logan P. Smith. Work-life balance is a broad concept including proper prioritizing between “work” (career and ambition) on one hand and “life” (Health, pleasure, leisure, family and spiritual development) on the other. Related, though broader, terms include “lifestyle balance” and “life balance”. History
The expression was first used in the late 1970s to describe the balance between an individual’s work and personal life. In the United States, this phrase was first used in 1986. Over the past twenty-five years, there has been a substantial increase in work which is felt to be due, in part, by information technology and by an intense, competitive work environment. Long-term loyalty and a “sense of corporate community” have been eroded by a performance culture that expects more and more from their employees yet offers little security in return. Work statistics
According to a survey conducted by the National Life Insurance Company, four out of ten employees state that their jobs are “very” or “extremely” stressful. Those in high stress jobs are three times more likely than others to suffer from stress-related medical conditions and are twice as likely to quit. The study states that women, in particular, report stress related to the conflict between work and family. Stress and work-life balance The number of stress-related disability claims by American employees has doubled according to the Employee Assistance Professionals Association in Arlington, Virginia.
Seventy-five to ninety percent of physician visits are related to stress and, according to the American Institute of Stress, the cost to industry has been estimated at $200 billion-$300 billion a year. Steven L. Sauter, chief of the Applied Psychology and Ergonomics Branch of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in Cincinnati, Ohio, states that recent studies show that “the workplace has become the single greatest source of stress”.
Michael Feuerstein, professor of clinical psychology at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences at Bethesda Naval Hospital states, “We’re seeing a greater increase in work-related neuroskeletal disorders from a combination of stress and ergonomic stressors”. It is clear that problems caused by stress have become a major concern to both employers and employees. Symptoms of stress are manifested both physiologically and psychologically. Persistent stress can result in cardiovascular disease, sexual health problems, a weaker immune system and frequent headaches, stiff muscles, or backache.
It can also result in poor coping skills, irritability, jumpiness, insecurity, exhaustion, and difficulty concentrating. Stress may also perpetuate or lead to binge eating, smoking, and alcohol consumption. “To get ahead, a seventy-hour work week is the new standard. What little time is left is often divvied up among relationships, kids, and sleep. ” This increase in work hours over the past two decades means that less time will be spent with family, friends, and community as well as pursuing activities that one enjoys and taking the time to grow personally and spiritually. When people get worked beyond their capacity, companies pay the price. ” Although some employers believe that workers should reduce their own stress by simplifying their lives and making a better effort to care for their health, most experts feel that the chief responsibility for reducing stress should be management. According to Esther M. Orioli, president of Essi Systems, a stress management consulting firm, “Traditional stress-management programs placed the responsibility of reducing stress on the individual rather than on the organization-where it belongs.
No matter how healthy individual employees are when they start out, if they work in a dysfunctional system, they’ll burn out. ” Responsibility of the employer Companies have begun to realize how important the work-life balance is to the productivity and creativity of their employees. Research by Kenexa Research Institute shows that those employees who were more favorable toward their organization’s efforts to support work-life balance also indicated a much lower intent to leave the organization, greater pride in their organization, a willingness to recommend it as a place to work and higher overall job satisfaction.
Employers can offer a range of different programs and initiatives, such as flexible working arrangements in the form of part time, casual and telecommuting work. More proactive employers can provide compulsory leave, strict maximum hours and foster an environment that encourages employees not to continue working after hours. It is generally only highly skilled workers that can enjoy such benefits as written in their contracts, although many professional fields would not go so far as to discourage workaholic behaviour. Unskilled workers will almost always have to rely on bare minimum legal requirements.
The legal requirements are low in many countries, in particular, the United States. In contrast, the European Union has gone quite far in assuring a legal work-life balance framework, for example pertaining to parental leave and the non-discrimination of part-time workers. Helping Employees Maintain Work/Life Balance Helping your employees maintain work/life balance isn’t something you do just for them — it can be vital to the health of your company. Employee burnout has a major impact on productivity, but that’s not its only negative effect. Overworked and overstressed employees are more likely to get sick and have high absentee rates. • A lack of work/life balance affects an employee’s attitude. Unhappy workers are typically less efficient and can destroy morale. • Burnout directly affects turnover rates. Employees can work at a frantic pace for only so long before they get frustrated and leave a company. Employee burnout is caused by a number of things, including an employee’s own abilities, their workload, their responsibilities and how much support they have in the workplace.
But there are things you can do help employees juggle work and home life. Even the smallest efforts show your employees that you respect their personal time and make them feel good about their relationship with you and the company. Give employees comp days. Certain projects or seasons require an unusual amount of work or overtime. After these busy periods are over, reward your employees with a comp day or two. It will emphasize how much you appreciate their efforts and the sacrifices they’ve made. Plus, it increases the chances that they’ll voluntarily pitch in for the next big project.
Be flexible with work schedules. Flexible work hours can help an employee meet conflicting needs without compromising the amount of hours they work. If employees can adjust their hours or telecommute once in a while, they’ll be happier at work and at home. Give time off for special occasions. Time off is always greatly appreciated. If you can afford to, consider giving your employees time off on their birthdays, holidays or other special occasions. But be careful that comp time is distributed fairly, and that it benefits all of your employees. Role of HR for maintaining employees healthy WORK – LIFE balance
One of the tools that managers use is a simple matrix. Along the horizontal axis are the key businesses goals; in the vertical axis the various activity areas or key competencies of HR. In the boxes created by this matrix we write in all the specific project or activities that could usefully be delivered, with a time and cost budget attached to each. Almost invariably, the sum of all these projects exceeds the total budget allocated to department. HR can then engage the rest of the executive team in deciding which projects or activities they want to drop.
The same principle applies to the workload of any department; the clearer the manager makes the choices, the more difficult it is for top management to demand more. If they insist on trying to squeeze more projects into the plan, the manager’s response must be: ‘Which of these do you accept can be only partly done or will not be done as well as it should? ‘ Of course, the manager may still be told, ‘How you do it is your problem-you are paid to solve the issues. Now comes the key question for HR; how and to what extent are you prepared to support the line manager in resisting this kind of pressure?
It is a question many HR directors are unhappy to address publically, and in private they sometimes admit that they do not carry the clout to intervene. At the very least, however, the HR director can raise the broad question at broad level and attempt to discuss specific instances with senior management colleagues in private. Possible practical measures which can be taken by HR department – ? Providing line mangers with confidential advice when they feel that pressure from above is undermining the work-life balance policy. ? Using the employee survey to identify pockets of poor practice. Offering assertiveness training and negotiation skills training to line managers. ? Persuading the chief executive to give public recognition to mangers who stand up against this kind of abuse. Providing an internal arbitration service to help resolve disputes over what is an appropriate workload (for teams or individuals). HR Employee Family Community Work Creating a climate that encourages experimentation and learning Most teams are so focused on task achievement that they fail to build in sufficient reflective space to review learning and plan for future learning.
This narrow focus inevitably leads to reduced performance as the teams become busier but less effective. Managers of high performance teams create a balance of focus between task and learning while encouraging supportive behavior between team members. In the context of work-life balance, the manager can ensure that occasions when work demands become burdensome are analyzed within the team to establish what has happened and how to prevent or diminish the impact of any recurrence. Managing up The reality in most organizations is that much of the work that gets passed down is of little real value to the organization.
Requiring senior managers to think before they ask for work to be done is by and large good for the organization, as well as for the employees for receiving ends of such requests. Benefits of Work Life Balance Initiatives Work Life Balance initiatives have been an integral part of the HR policies for a long time. Benefits for employers include: • Lower staff turnover and increased return on training • Reduced absenteeism and lateness • Improved employee morale and commitment • Reduced stress and improved productivity • A more flexible workforce Increased ability to attract and recruit staff • Potential for improved occupational health and safety • Fulfillment of equal opportunity objectives • Good corporate citizenship and an enhanced corporate image. Benefits for employees include: • Ability to manage work and individual commitments • Improved personal and family relationships • Flexible working arrangements resulting in reduced work overload and stress • Increased focus, motivation and job satisfaction knowing that family and work commitments are being met Increased job security from the knowledge that an organization understands and supports workers with family responsibilities • Increased ability to remain employed. • Increased ability to remain competitive in career advancement • Improved health and wellbeing of staff Critical Success Factors To achieve the benefits of introducing work life balance initiatives, the critical success factors are: • Choose work life balance practices that are suitable to the workplace and the employees’ jobs, and ones that will meet the needs of the employees. Ensure there is good communication with employees, and they are well informed of the options available to them. • Provide clear guidelines to all employees on how the work life balance practices are to work. • Ensure that supervisors do not inhibit employees from accessing the work life balance practices that are available to them. • Treat all employees fairly and equitably, regardless of their family/personal responsibilities. • Be flexible with the changing needs of employees. • Ensure that any changes in work practices are consistent with award or agreement requirements. Check whether the new work practices are actually assisting employees to better balance their work and family/personal responsibilities. Industry Perspective The trend in the globe is that, not only are companies and employees striving to strike Work-Life Balance but also are the governments working hard towards the same. The Indian Picture The career-minded gen-Xers and India’s booming economy once had people terming work-life balance as a ‘Western’ problem. But these same youngsters are now struggling with the inevitable effects of all work and no play.
On the one hand, the drive is to keep up with the workload, to climb that corporate ladder and prove yourself. On the other, fatigue, milestones missed and lack of time with friends and family. For the ‘We want it all’ generation, this delicate see-saw to reduce stress and maintain harmony is an ongoing challenge. However it is not easy to find many references to Work-Life Balance policies and issues in India. This is not to discount their existence in the country, but it does indicate its relative unimportance as a strategic business issue in the country.
It is indeed hurting to see a majority of Indian companies still wedded to the old style presenters philosophy instead of offering managers opportunities to strike a healthy Work-Life Balance. Thus, In India the IT Industry is probably the first mover in terms of introducing Work-Life Balance policies. There have been pioneers in the country like NIIT, a premier IT Training organization, which several years ago introduced innovative allowances for employees who were dating, got engaged and so on.
It made the news time and again because of what these policies did to recruit promising talent and ensure a motivated workforce. Work-Life Balance policies seem to be targeted at potential recruits rather than a tool to further the entry and progress of women into the workplace as elsewhere in the world. ( For e. g. Indian talented young women have often ended up quitting their job after marriage and children’s because of social constraints. ) In India, there is a starting point in that organizations have recognized the need for and value of Work-Life Balance policies.
But the debate has to now move into implementation and the Government could play a critical role in being a catalyst of change. An advantage that Indian industry will however have is learning’s from the experiences of other countries in what has worked and what has not. There’s no ‘one size that fits all’ and Indian companies will have to adapt policies to fit in with not just the nature of industry, profile of workforce and other such factors but also with the local culture and environment. nitiatives to promote work/ life balance for employees include free membership to children of all IBMers to the GenieKids Resource center through out the year. The Resource Center houses a library, activity based games, pottery classes, computer classes etc. IBM employees can also attend Parenting Workshops at the Resource Center, covering topics like “Developing Child’s Intelligence”, “Communicating towards better parenting”, “Developing parent child relationships”, at discounted rates through out the year.
Accenture has also incorporated family events into its employee calendars, with social gatherings or outings where the whole family comes together. Mandatory number of holidays, discounted gym and saloon memberships and even in-house work-life effectiveness managers and career counselors are all attempts by Accenture to counter stress and maintain the work life balance. Accenture currently has 30,000 employees in India.
Conclusion • Conscious efforts taken by the employer to counter barriers to work life balance. Also, the employee has to ensure that there is effective time and stress management. • Respondents of this survey were spending time in all the three fronts of work, family and self life. But the no of hours spent by each of them was different. This could be attributed to their personality and individual choice. It could also depend on what they considered as best balance for themselves.