The balancing of life and work is a problem for several individuals in organizations. Work-life balance as a concept has become popular in research works. Additionally, sociology, human resource management, psychology, as well as organizational studies are concerned with work-life balance. Most research encourages people to find an equilibrium of work and life. This is to avoid conflicts that often arise. The concept has also had various definitions proposed by scholars. Others define it as a sense of harmony in life. It is also described as satisfactory functioning at home and work with minimum conflict of roles.
Focusing on work and family is essential since they are regarded as the most vital components of life (Swarnalatha, 2015, p. 12). Any conflicts that arise between work and personal life affects an individual's well-being. Therefore, it is important for organizations to have policies that assist workers in achieving the desired equilibrium. This report provides recommendations for policy changes. They can help in the adoption of flexible work schedules and procedures. Additionally, the report examines the results of latest polls on CWP services workforce.
The Case Scenario
In the case scenario, CWP has approximately thirteen thousand five hundred employees across Europe. Sixty-five percent of their workers are male. However, it has a diversity policy aimed at improving the representation of women among its staff. This strategy has failed to work because of the nature of work. The long working hours, as well as operating away from home has been challenging. These are human resource issues that should be addressed. In the recent past, CWP has been losing its employees after three to five years. This has led to high rate of staff turnover. Moreover, the number of applicants to various positions has also declined. This drop has been a worrying trend to the human resource department.
CWP Services conducted a survey to determine reasons for the growing human resource problems. The study indicated that only forty percent of workers achieve job satisfaction. Most dissatisfied workers were aged between thirty-five to forty years. Females working on international assignments were the unhappy group. The research also showed that most staffs do not view work flexibility in CWP as a solution. However, they feel it is the reason for plateauing of various careers. This case scenario forms the basis of the report. All human resource issues are addressed to ensure proper management of employees.
Definition of Work-Life Balance (WLB)
The definition of WLB is crucial in understanding various issues affecting it. Researchers have varying perceptions of how work-life balance should be measured, researched, and defined. Additionally, human resource scholars use different terms to refer to WLB. Therefore, research involving work-life balance is essential in all organizations (Bell, et al., 2012, p. 27). One of the most common alternative words is ‘work-family fit.' However, this has been criticized due to its emphasis on an individual's immediate family. In most cases, it refers to married people with their family. Contrary to other beliefs, work-life balance is a broad concept involving the community, personal time, family, as well as recreation. In its broader sense, it captures an employee's work and personal life. However, this report concentrates on immediate family members due to word count limits and highly affected areas.
Work-life balance is an equilibrium between work and personal life. The existence of conflicts between these components affects an individual's well-being. Moreover, it can be regarded as an accomplishment of expectations at work and home. Theories have been postulated to explain the meaning and concepts regarding work-life balance. Border theory states that domains of family and work are separated by borders. These can be temporal, physical, as well as psychological. Additionally, others believe that compensation theory best explains work-family relationship (Burke, et al., 2015, p. 341). According to the theory, people often aim at finding satisfaction in one area as compensation. This follows an individual's dissatisfaction in a particular field.
Another theory that has also received a wider recognition and acceptance is the ‘spillover.’ This maintains that emotions, feelings, behaviors, and attitudes often spill from one life domain to the other. When an individual is dissatisfied with work, s/he spills it over to family set up. This affects the person and his or her entire family. Therefore, a focus on work-family balance is crucial due to their importance. This balance involves satisfaction, time, and involvement. It can be measured through enhancements and conflicts. These include work-family conflicts and improvements.
Enhancements or conflicts possess bi-directional impacts (effects) on family and work domains. Participating in work roles may enhance or interfere with family functions. Additionally, excessive focus on family responsibilities may equally affect an individual's job performance. Therefore, it is essential to find an equilibrium (Swarnalatha, 2015, p. 15). At this point, work and family have equal time and opportunities. Studies in work-life domain concentrate on perspectives of role enhancement and strain. Role strain view indicates that separate domains' responsibilities compete for limited psychological resources, time, as well as physical energy. This has a potential to affect both areas through the generation of negative energy.
Work-life balance is achievable when no conflicts in roles exist. This occurs when individuals are satisfied with their family and work responsibilities (Bell, et al., 2012, p. 26). Through professional and family satisfaction scales, an individual's wellbeing can be measured. Competing demands of work or family negatively affect an individual. Keeping family and working separately enables an employee to manage different domain borders effectively. However, integration can ease transitions between the edges. These approaches (integration and separation) play crucial roles in enhancing the wellbeing of employees. It is important for individuals to have low permeability and high flexibility in their work-life relationship. This can assist in avoiding conflicts.
Work-Life Balance and Demographics
According to the survey conducted by CWP firm, women are extremely affected than men. This has made it difficult for the company to meet its target of increasing women representation in management roles. The nature of work at CWP bars women, as well as people with families from applying for higher jobs. Additionally, the research indicated that individuals between thirty-five and forty years find it hard to work for CWP services. At this age, most people often begin to have family responsibilities. It can be assumed that failure to balance work and family tasks is a reason for this high turnover. The long working hours and international assignments often affect family domain. This leads to conflicts, which eventually results in job quitting.
In the recent past, demographic changes have occurred leading to increased participation of women in workplaces (Raya & Delina, 2013, p. 274). Single parent families, elder care, and increased household income have presented challenges to workers. They are required to balance family, individual, and work pressure. These problems and negative energy generated affect individuals' well-being. Besides, the pressure results in family-work conflicts. The number of women in paid workforce has been rising globally. This is due to opportunities offered specifically for women. Affirmative actions have also allowed women to resume work following delivery. It ensures that women are not dismissed during maternity leaves.
Married women work fewer hours in comparison to their male counterparts. Men work for approximately forty-five hours (Raya & Delina, 2013, p. 274). On the other hand, average working hours for women is thirty-two. Men can work for longer hours since they contribute less time to households compared to women. Besides, women are responsible for taking care of children. The long working hours in CWP must be a reason for high dissatisfaction and turnout. At age thirty to thirty-five years, people begin experiencing the weight of family responsibilities. Additionally, youthful vigor starts to wilt. This leads to people quitting jobs at CWP at that particular age group. They search for jobs with flexible working schedules.
The global population of individuals at thirty-five years is expected to rise. Additionally, the population of elderly people is predicted to rise rapidly. Most workers are anticipated to take care of their elderly relatives. This can add to the pressure experienced by this group. Increasing dependency has a potential of aggravating the existing family-work conflict. Employees with dependents such as children, elderly relatives, or family members experience high work-family conflict levels. These family burdens and emotions often spill over to workplace affecting people's productivity. Women and men with children experience conflicts in work and family. Besides, marital status has an influence on the family-work relationship. Unmarried males and females experience lower levels of conflicts compared to the married individuals.
This occurs when work and family domain interfere with one another. This result from pressure caused by incompatible family and work roles. When participation in work activities is made difficult by family responsibilities, then a conflict arises. Besides, work projects can affect family tasks leading to unexpected conflicts. Since these conflicts are bi-directional, adverse experiences at the workplace can affect an individual's personal life. Family conflicts lead to negative energy directed towards the working environment. This affects an employee's productivity.
Work-family conflicts can occur due to time, strain, as well as behavior. Conflicts based on time arise when work and family activities compete for limited time. On the other hand, strain-based conflicts are as a result of conflict between demands and pressures created by different activities. Work and home behavior may conflict leading to demands. This is referred to as behaviour-based conflicts. These conflicts have a negative influence on job and family. Long working hours and inflexible working schedules affect wellbeing.
The wellbeing of an individual is an essential component of good life quality. It is associated with satisfaction, optimism, happiness, self-actualization, as well as passion. Wellbeing refers to the use of physical, social, and spiritual dimensions that allows a balanced work-life relationship. An individual's wellbeing has a direct correlation with better physical, spiritual, and mental health. Work and family are important elements in people's lives. They affect their feelings and attitudes on life. Life and work satisfaction have an effect on wellbeing. Therefore, CWP services should ensure they are achieved.
Addressing Work-family Conflicts
In CWP services, work-family balance is a problem. This has affected the company’s ability to retain individuals with family responsibilities. Married people find difficult to balance work and family roles (Raya & Delina, 2013, p. 278). Management of CWP should adopt policies that allow for flexible schedules. Additionally, implementing strategies that enable better work-life balance is crucial. The negative effects of work-family conflicts necessitate formulation of initiatives to curb it. Additionally, people should develop effective coping strategies. These approaches can be integration or separation.
Organizations have an obligation to assist their employees in coping with family-work conflicts. CWP services should develop strategies such as dependent care support (DCS) and alternative work arrangements (AWA). These can assist employees in coping with conflicts. Adoption of informal family-work support is essential. The formal mechanisms of supportive managers and counseling have proved ineffective. According to CWPs survey, approximately fifty percent believe their manager has been supportive. However, human resource problems affecting the organization persist. Therefore, adoption of informal support mechanism can assist CWPs management. This is regarded as a family-work culture with shared beliefs, values, as well as assumptions. Additionally, they help employees to integrate work and family activities. The integration allows for smooth transitioning from work to family and vice versa.
Supportive organizational culture has a negative correlation with work-life conflict (Mwebi & Kadaga, 2015, p. 118). CWP services should cultivate a culture of organizational support among employees. Additionally, managers should be encouraged to be active and act as family life supporters. They should also adopt policies that are family friendly. In most organizations, women experience a high rate of work-family conflict. This makes married women to quit formal employment for entrepreneurship. Therefore, organizations should work hard to retain married individuals. These employees often give their best when at work. However, they are easily distracted by family issues. The inflexibility of CWPs work schedule has led to women quitting their jobs.
Married women often see themselves as primary caregivers in a household. They believe work-family conflict is a personal matter. Therefore, they adopt their coping mechanisms. However, the adoption of these approaches should be supported by management. This is because some cannot be adopted at workplaces without involving an organization's management. Some of their strategies include proper time management, flexibility, priority setting, maintaining alertness, and focus. These are aimed at reducing family tensions.
In early phases of marriage, people experience conflicts due to family and work pressures. Additionally, following the birth of their first babies, women often need social support. When she resumes at work, it is crucial for the management to help her. The workers should also be encouraged to offer support. This allows the woman to handle pressures that come with being a first-time mother. It also reduces her burdens at the workplace.
Implementation of policies that are family friendly benefits an organization and employees (Mwebi & Kadaga, 2015, p. 111). Benefits organizations achieve include staff retention, increased productivity, as well as motivation. Besides, employees are assisted in avoiding work-life conflicts. It also allows women to access equal opportunities. Some of the family-friendly policies that CWP should offer include work-sharing, maternity, and parental leave. Others include flexi-time, teleworking, part-time, and adoptive leave. Certain organizations provide initiatives that do not affect working hours. These include counseling, provision of medical advice, and employee financial education.
Despite the existence of these initiatives, some employees still work longer than expected. The management should ensure people work within stipulated hours. This can reduce chances of work-family conflicts. Flexi-time enables employees to choose their working hours. This gives individuals flexibility based on work schedules. Employees can begin work at their convenient time, as long as planned work is completed. In most cases, schedules of when work begins and ends are provided. This allows flexi-time employees to plan their jobs. CWP should offer this kind of flexible working schedules. This allows for retention, as well as the development of employees. It should also ensure all staffs are available at various core times. This approach allows people to plan their work and family domains.
Through this approach, the organization can extend its working hours without spending extra financial resources. It benefits the employers and employees. Flexi-time enables staff and managers to save time (Mwebi & Kadaga, 2015, p. 113). This is because disruptions are often minimized. It assists workers in attending to personal responsibilities. The approach is essential in reducing absenteeism since people work at their chosen times. This has a potential of reducing work-life conflicts. However, this method comes with certain challenges, which can aggravate existing conflicts. These problems also affect employers. For instance, extended working hours often influence electricity and water bill. These additional costs cannot be compared to the unproductivity of employees. Therefore, CWPs management should conduct a cost-benefit analysis for flexi-time approach.
Telecommuting is also an approach CWP service should adopt to assist employees in managing their work-life conflicts. It is predicted that the United States has approximately twenty-eight million telecommuters (Golden, 2014, p. 1340). The Telework Association and Council (TAC) has been encouraging individuals to register for telecommuting training. The association believes that telecommuting can assist in avoiding work-life conflicts. CWP should adopt teleworking due to rapid developments in information technology. This enables employees to work at home. Additionally, it can assist individuals in attending to personal issues before they begin working.
The approach has a potential of reducing work-life conflicts. It allows people to manage work pressures allowing for accommodation of family demands. Greater involvement in family work at the expense of job can lead to conflicts. Therefore, the organization should assign a specific time when people are expected to work. This can prevent people from over-indulging in family activities. Telecommuters can alter stressful workplace activities by working at home. This assists in allocating time for work and family. These office-based strains can affect an individual's productivity at home and workplace.
Getting the balance between life and work is essential to every individual. Apart from telecommuting and flexi-time, part-time should also be a basic approach. Most people who have part-time jobs often find it easy to balance work-life relationship. Long working hours have the potential of affecting employees' productivity (Fagan, et al., 2012, p. 6). It can result in conflicts between work and family. When a family is strained due to long working hours, a person's productivity becomes affected. This can affect organizational performance. Therefore, strategies such as part-time or shifts are crucial. Shift work allows people in attending to personal issues. However, it has particular challenges including disturbed sleeping patterns. This is because the employees lack proper sleeping hours. On a given day they sleep at night while on others part-time workers sleep during daytime.
CWP organization should develop an employee retention policy that allows for flexible schedules. This can enable the company to keep employees satisfied at work and home. Work-life conflict is the primary cause of unhappy family lives. When people work for long hours, they do not have adequate time for their families (Fagan, et al., 2012, p. 8). This leads to conflicts and unnecessary separations or divorce. Additionally, individuals should formulate their coping mechanisms. People often have pressure at workplaces and home. Most people regard this as inevitable. Therefore, development of a personal approach is vital.
In conclusion, workers and employers should work together in reducing work-life conflicts. This can improve individual and organizational performance. The management of CWP should encourage a culture of support among employees. It has the potential to reduce conflicts as compared to formal methods. The organization must develop a plan of action to avoid losing employees.
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