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E-Pao! Essay - Work Life Balance

Work Life Balance

By: Singh *



The changing economic conditions and social demands have changed the nature of work throughout the world. Originally, work was a matter of necessity and survival. Throughout the years, the role of "work" has evolved and the composition of the workforce has changed.

Today, work is widely viewed as a source of personal satisfaction. A good balance in work and life can play a phenomenal role in the attainment of personal and professional goals The objective of this paper is to understand the various issues that have come to the forefront due to the dynamic nature of work.

Can the existence of work-life balance programs be attributed to a realization of social responsibility by the employers towards their employees or to a realization of the competitive advantage it offers to employers? Before we can answer this question, we need to define what work-life balance is and various factors associated with it, which is also the purpose of this blog.

What is Work Life Balance?

By definition work life balance is about people having measure of control over when, where and how they work. There is a view that work-life balance only in the framework of what the company does for the individual.

However, work-life balance is a two-pronged approach. The other prong of work-life balance, which many individuals overlook, relates to what individuals do for themselves. The core of work life balance could also be summed as achievement with enjoyment.

If an individual goes on working his or her best at work place but not really enjoying the same then happiness and satisfaction can never be achieved. Achievement can be viewed as motive of life while enjoyment is the fuel that drives that motive.

While we strike a work life balance, we are not merely balancing our profession and family, we are also balancing our mental and status quo and thereby balancing our emotional intelligence, which is the worldly ability to manage you and to handle others. Organizations can help facilitate work-life balance for their employees through work-life programs and training.

Achievement and enjoyment at work is a critical part of work-life balance. Furthermore, achievement andenjoyment in the other three quadrants of one's life (e.g. family, friends andself) is critical as well. Work cultures have often demanded a transformation from inflexibility to flexibility. The underlying principle perhaps is the increasing realization that certain issues pertaining to the imbalance in working life and personal life of an individual are being overlooked.

There is a life at work and at home and also a life having space for leisure. With globalization becoming the norm ofthe day, these issues seem to have taken a back seat for quite a while. Worklife 'imbalance' has over a period of time attracted concern because of increasing problems related to employee health, monotony at work place, declining levels of productivity and efficiency at the employee level. The imbalance also has a negative impact in the personal life of working people-some of which have even become social hazards- increasing number of divorces, infertility due high stress levels, advent of nuclear families etc.

Professionals today seem to be more interested in jobs that give them increased flexibility at work. Working people have different needs at different stages of their working life. As a result, people strive for balance in their working hours and their personal commitments. Work life balance has nowbecome a sensitive issue because it offers obvious benefits to organizations and its employees.

Successfully addressing this issue can lead to a healthy synergy in the working environment of an organization and its employees. Organizations can look forward to a phenomenal increase in efficiency and working hours and their personal commitments. Work life balance has nowbecome a sensitive issue because it offers obvious benefits to organizations and its employees.

Successfully addressing this issue can lead to a healthy synergy in the working environment of an organization and its employees. Organizations can look forward to a phenomenal increase in efficiency and as an ideal place to work in - a place that endows greater volition (flexi-timings etc.) and freedom; and a place that is fun to work in. Employees with a working environment that is conducive.

Employee retention may also be seen as an important driver to this. Organizations now focus on grooming their employees who are now not considered merely a work force but regarded as the 'Human Capital' of the organization.

Employees with a working environment that is conducive. Employee retention may also be seen as an important driver to this. Organizations now focus on grooming their employees who are now not considered merely a work force but regarded as the 'Human Capital' of the organization.

Need and Benefits of Work Life Balance

To understand the need of work life balance, one first needs to understand about work life imbalance, as with the understanding of the origin, causes and effects of this imbalance, the balancing act becomes easier. The corporate world of today is exceedingly demanding. The work culture varies from organization to organization.

Today the deadlines are getting tighter and an individual's job is not only to match that deadline but also to give quality output. Due to this work pressure it becomes exceedingly difficult to maintain a family life. It becomes very difficult to have the engagement of mind with the engagement of body. In every individual's life there are four stakeholders- own personality, job, family and society.

It is very important to give equal importance to all the stakeholders. A person who is a workaholic and does not enjoy his family life cannot be termed a successful person. When a life encounters such imbalance then the peace and harmony of life vanishes and there is an adverse effect of it on the work life too. To avoid such situation one should always try to avoid this imbalance in life. The transition from work life imbalance to work life balance has obvious benefits to an organization andits employees.

At the organizational level, balanced nature of work enables increase in productivity and efficiency of employees. Employees become more creativea nd they derive more satisfaction from work. Better teamwork and communication offer a conducive working environment. This leads to enjoyment at work and increased passion for it. Stress levels are well in commitment levels from the employee increase thereby helping an commitment levels from the employee increase thereby helping an organization to inherently develop a strong value system.

Work life balance on an individual level can bring phenomenal changes in his life and can also heavily impact a society. A balanced work life is of advantage to an employee's health. Stress levels decline drastically to healthy levels. Individuals derive more value from their work and from life that leads to greater satisfaction and is also seen as a mode of self-actualization.

The employee can better understand the nature of his work life balance as work life balance can vary among individuals. It is at this point oftime that an employee starts resting immense trust in the organization and his commitment levels to the organization increase. On the social front, the individual gains when relationships improve. The individual can now willingly devote more time and energy to his social commitments, which is also vital for a happy life.

Thus, work-life balance can bring a huge transformation at the organizational and individual levels. It helps an organization to inherently build a strong value system, which is attributed to the work life balance enjoyed at the employee level. Consequently, the organization does not have to impose a formulated framework of organizational values because they now become intrinsic to it.

Work life balance at the individual level enjoys its success in addressing to societal issues. It helps in healing a society off its problems such as increasing infertility among working people, increasing number of divorces and its adverse affect on children.

Roles and Responsibilities

Organizations are becoming more and more demanding in terms of output. The businesses are being operated in terms of volume and not in terms of values. This disturbs the balance between work and life in employees' lives. The organizations are too exacting in their demands and because of the very high competition, they are able to dictate terms upon the individuals.

As the organizations are basically the profit driven entities they are rarely bothered about the personal life and work-satisfaction issues of the employees. Thus they are least concerned at their level with work life satisfaction. Organizations have the work force in plenitude and as far as the people are ready to work as three people instead of one, they don't bother about the consequences the employees may face with this stressful work atmosphere.

Individuals are equally responsible for creating work life imbalance, as the silence adopted by the individuals is a major factor responsible for work life imbalance. As people do not raise their voice against the unfair amount of work delegated upon them, they land up with unfair amount of work for themselves. Due to 'high ambitions' of the individuals they put themselves under much more pressure than they can handle. People tend to escape from making decisions and from taking stands. Work life imbalance is creating a different kind of lifestyle. People are having different professional and personal goals, which are often contradictory, and this is ultimately bringing imbalance intheir lives.

The Eternal See-Saw: Efforts made by Organizations & Individuals

Organizations today have realized the importance of the employee-work-life balance and its importance in the efficiency of the employees. Organizations work-life balance, so that neither the work nor the employee's personal life work-life balance, so that neither the work nor the employee's personal life is affected.

The ideas like employees working from virtual offices in theirhomes are well established now and have been accepted with organizations world over. Not only the employee can have total flexibility in their work,they are always close to their family.

In offices also, efforts are being made to provide friendly work atmosphere for the employees by providing all sorts of refreshments available for the employee. The employees are given the freedom to have their own ways ofdoing the work. They are given the assignments with deadlines and they can have their own schedule as far as they are meeting the deadlines. Some organizations have gone to the extent of providing family atmosphere for the employees by involving the families of the employees.

The idea is to make the family realize that they are also a part of the organization. Besides, these organizations are introducing special leaves for attending to sick parents, to attend to children, etc.

Maternity leaves and various holiday packages are being designed for the employees, and also various insurance schemes are there for the employees and their families. Organizations are trying to take care of all the overloads of the employees,so that the employees can better concentrate on the work, so that the employee can enjoy the work and can have a proper work life balance. The thought process of the employees has also evolved and now they have become more decisive when it comes to job.

Working Women: Are they being discriminated?

Work life imbalance also comes with a different social perspective- How to address the work - life imbalance in the lives of the women work force. The society over the years has recognized women's need to legal and financial independence. Women work force now constitutes a significant percentage ofthe total work force in any organization today.

Gender equality and responsibility for caring however, are contested issues. The transition to motherhood still continues to have practical and emotional consequences. When women take break from their careers to fulfill their right to motherhood, it is considered unprofessional. Moreover, it also affects their professional stature when they return to work.

These tend to reinforce gender in-equalities at work place. As a result many women have to make the difficult choice between family and career. Surprisingly the situation in homemaker and as a professional person. So if she has to make a trade-off sometimes, she must take it in her stride and balance it in the other spheres as soon as possible.

Homemaker and as a professional person. So if she has to make a trade-off sometimes, she must take it in her stride and balance it in the other spheres as soon as possible.

Summary

The concept of Work life balance is becoming more and more relevant in a never-dynamic working environment. The role played by the individual is as important as that of the organization in managing this tumultuous see saw. One of the novel approaches to this is by the use of one's emotional intelligence.

This will help people realize what they want to do, which in turn will lead to stronger organizations based on stronger values, orientations and ethics.


Singh, a Software Analyst from Noida, contributes for the first time to e-pao.net . The Writer can be contacted at resnique_s@yahoo.com . This article was webcasted on November 02nd, 2006


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