Work–life Balance - Responsibility of The Employer

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 in 2007 shows that those employees who were more favourable 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.

According to Stewart Friedman—professor of Management and founding director of the Wharton School’s Leadership Program and of its Work/Life Integration Project—a "one size fits all" mentality in human resources management often perpetuates frustration among employees. " uncommon problem in many HR areas where, for the sake of equality, there's a standard policy that is implemented in a way that's universally applicable -- everyone's life is different and everyone needs different things in terms of how to integrate the different pieces. It's got to be customized."

Friedman’s research indicates that the solution lies in approaching the components of work, home, community, and self as a comprehensive system. Instead of taking a zero-sum approach, Friedman’s Total Leadership program teaches professionals how to successfully pursue "four-way wins"—improved performance across all parts of life.

Although employees are offering many opportunities to help their employees balance work and life, these opportunities may be a catch twenty-two for some female employees. Even if the organization offers part-time options, many women will not take advantage of it as this type of arrangement is often seen as "occupational dead end".

Even with the more flexible schedule, working mothers opt not to work part-time because these positions typically receive less interesting and challenging assignments; taking these assignments and working part-time may hinder advancement and growth. Even when the option to work part-time is available, some may not take advantage of it because they do not want to be marginalized. This feeling of marginalization could be a result of not fitting into the "ideal worker" framework (see: Formation of the "ideal worker" and gender differences).

Additionally, some mothers, after returning to work, experience what is called the maternal wall. The maternal wall is experienced in the less desirable assignments given to the returning mothers. It is also a sense that because these women are mothers, they cannot perform as "ideal workers". If an organization is providing means for working mothers and fathers to better balance their work-life commitments, the general organizational norm needs to shift so the "ideal worker" includes those who must manage a home, children, elderly parents, etc.

Read more about this topic:  Work–life Balance

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... 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 ...

Famous quotes containing the word employer:

    If factory-labor is not a means of education to the operative of to-day, it is because the employer does not do his duty. It is because he treats his work-people like machines, and forgets that they are struggling, hoping, despairing human beings.
    Harriet H. Robinson (1825–1911)