Work-life balance is a concept that supports the efforts of employees to split their time and energy between work and the other important aspects of their lives. It is a daily effort to make time for family, friends, community participation, spirituality, personal growth, self-care, and other personal activities, in addition to the demands of the workplace. Work-life balance will vary for each person and will change throughout life. It is a flexible working arrangement that allows both parents and non-parents to avail of working arrangement that provide balance between work and personal responsibility.
Work-life balance is assisted by employers who institute policies, procedures, actions, and expectations that enable employees to easily pursue more balanced lives. Drew, Humphreys and Murphy point out that “personal fulfillment is important inside work and satisfaction at outside work enhances contribution to work. ”Work-life balance is about creating and maintaining supportive and healthy work environments, which will enable employees to have balance between work and personal responsibilities and thus strengthen employee loyalty and productivity.
The pursuit of work-life balance reduces the stress that employees experience. When they spend the majority of their days on work-related activities and feel as if they are neglecting the other important components of their lives, stress and unhappiness result. Work-life balance enables employees to feel as if they are paying attention to all the important aspects of their lives. Long work hours and highly stressful jobs not only hamper employees’ ability to harmonize work and family life but also are associated with health risks, such as increased smoking and alcohol consumption, weight gain and depression.
Work life conflict has been associated with numerous physical and mental health implications. In the current economic environment, work life balance now ranks as one of the most important workplace attributes. Because, many employees experience a personal, professional, and monetary need to achieve, work-life balance is challenging. Employers can assist employees to experience work-life balance by offering opportunities such as flexible work schedules, paid time off (PTO) policies, responsible time and communication expectations, and company-sponsored family events and activities.
The general aim of these policies is to strike a balance between employment and domestic commitment that is equitable and beneficial to both employer and employee. Work life balance plays a huge role in determining whether a person will reach career advancement. Today’s workers have many competing responsibilities such as work, children, housework, volunteering, spouse and elderly parent care and this places stress on individuals, families and the communities in which they reside.
Work-life conflict is a serious problem that impacts workers, their employers and communities. Work life balance is the separation between work life and personal life. It is the boundary that one creates between profession, career, or business and every other segment that makes up their life. Work-life balance is not about the amount of time one spend working vs. not-working. It’s more about how one spend their time working and relaxing, recognizing that what they do in one fuels energy for the other. Chapter II: Analysis Study of Work Life Balance in Different Countries:
The article “Multiple Role Occupancy in Midlife: Balancing Work and Family Life in Britain” by Maria Evandrou, Karen Glaser and Ursula Henz is based on secondary analysis of the British Family and Working lives Survey (FWLS). The FWLS comprises a nationally representative sample of 9,139 British individuals aged 16–69 years, interviewed in 1994–1995 (King & Murray, 1996). This research focuses on the prevalence of multiple work and family responsibilities among middle-aged individuals in cross-section and over the life course.
It addressed the proportion of midlife men and women who under-take a multiplicity of roles within the work and family spheres at any one point of time. The studies focused on the occupancy of three roles: parental status, informal caring and paid work. It showed that 7% of people experienced caring for someone, 50% were parents and 66% were in some type of paid work. The data for dual roles played by them were as follows; 34% who were both parents and paid workers, 1% were parents and care takers, and 2% were paid workers and care takers. 2% of the individuals in the survey played all three roles, and 18. % of the individuals had no role to play. It shows that only a small proportion of individuals in midlife combined paid work with consistent care giving or other multiple role configurations. It was found that men and women equally faced the multiple roles. Women were also likely to hold some of the more intense roles than their male counter parts. There is a growing recognition by policymakers of the importance of supporting individuals in juggling work and family life, as reflected in the British government’s launch in 2000 of the Work-Life Balance Campaign.
This aims to encourage employers to introduce more flexible work practices in order to facilitate workers’ reaching a better equilibrium between work and other spheres of their life (e. g. , child or adult caring responsibilities, as well as other interests). Although the number of companies offering flexible working practices in Britain is growing, it is relatively small compared with Scandinavian countries, and the range is limited, primarily concentrating on those with child care responsibilities. The study “Is There Life after Work for Japan?
Political ‘Work–Life Balance’ Research Begins to Address the Hard Questions” by Tuukka Toivonen in Japan focused on how to realize a society where private lives need not to be sacrificed for the sake of careers, or vice versa. It is organized into four sections that focus on WLB in relation to employment, the family, low fertility, and gender equality. Employees in Japan have found new interests outside the workplace walls and now also prefer a more democratic sharing of child-rearing duties between the genders.
Women will secure careers and even leadership positions, whereas men will win a social right to take parental leave and engage wholeheartedly in raising children. Both the economy and the society will thrive again as a new more wholesome union is struck between ‘work’ and ‘life’. Even though, everyone is agreeing on importance of WLB, the vested interests including those of middle-aged men with protected jobs and state-sponsored housewives is a key reason for why work–life reconciliation has not made much progress in Japan.
Genuine choice in terms of working time and practices must be urgently realized, and employees of different statuses must be treated far more equally than is currently the case. Yamaguchi leverages intricate quantitative analyses to show how women face economically irrational ‘statistical discrimination’ in the labor markets and how marital satisfaction—itself positively correlated with the amount of time couples spend together—influences childbearing decisions.
Government’s ‘equal participation’ measures so far has been to try to raise the birth rate by allowing women to work like men, not by altering men’s behavior or dominant social institutions. ‘Performance’ is understood here broadly as comprising recruitment, employee retention, employee motivation, company profits, growth and external investment. WLB improvements cannot be introduced in an ad hoc or isolated manner but require a fundamental overhaul of daily work practices and reward strategies to ensure that new measures are accessible and do not unduly disadvantage workers who wish to use them.
In terms of the political campaign for improving ‘WLB’ in Japan, companies would do well to adopt WLB measures, even if has not extended this argument to small- and middle-sized companies. The article “Agency and Capabilities to Achieve a Work – Life Balance: A Comparison of Sweden and Hungary” by Barbara Hobson, Susanne Fahlen, and Judit Takacs, was inspired by Amartya Sen’s influential work capabilities and agency and its purpose was for developing analytical model where individual’s means and resources are converted into capabilities.
The reason for the comparison between Sweden and Hungary, is because both countries have institutionalize a dual or earner family model and also because of the difference in working time regimes using a specifically a design qualitative survey and applying this to analyze the inequalities of mothers/fathers with young children in two institutional. It was found that in Sweden there is high rate of labor force participation in women than in Hungary. The unemployment rate and working time in Hungary is high than that of Sweden, whereas, the fertility rate is high in Sweden and low in Hungary.
The qualitative survey was also done in between Budapest and Stockholm, the survey was done in these two cities because they both are similar in population size. The survey focuses on the 3 selection criteria i. e. one had to be parent of at least one, living as a couple and employed during the previous year. It was found that Budapest had larger proportion with less education whereas, Stockholm had larger proportion with high education. The public sector is low in Budapest but, have more the small firms than that in Stockholm.
Sweden and Hungary have relatively generous parental leave benefits though, Sweden has high compensation because incomes are higher and the capped ceiling for the benefit is also high. Sweden eligibility requires employment of 8 months before the child is born, where as in Hungary it required 180 days within 2 years prior to the birth. In Hungary, the individual who are less educated are more likely to take a longer parental leave, whereas in Sweden the jobs are protected; longer leave can affect pay and promotion possibilities in jobs.
The earlier studies have shown that men faced greater risk in careers, when exercising their parental leave rights than women. Hungary parents believe that women should be at home for long period and Sweden parents believe that women should be at home for fewer periods. These parental leave believes difference in mother capabilities for WLB, Sweden- as women take shorter leave that encourage and gives them high level of employment and serve jobs as compare to Hungary. Sweden parents with low education are still aware of their rights and importance of parental leave. Work Balance and Flexibility (i. . right to work part time) is a strategy that offers employers the opportunity to adjust workers hours to productivity. There are two ways i. e. internal ways- achieving more flexible patterns within the work organization and external ways-making workplace more adaptable by offering more flexible contract arrangements. It was found that in Hungary the rate of men was high for not having the work situation flexible than the women and in Sweden there was very little difference between men and women. Sweden people give more importance to family responsibilities than the Hungary people.
In Sweden regardless of less education and skill, they understand the value of family/ friends at workplace and about their rights. In Hungary, working parents expressed a greater sense of vulnerability in jobs and economic futures that is contrast to Sweden. The previous article compared the WLB in two countries: Hungary and Sweden. The following article “Work-Life ‘Balance’ in Europe” by Rosemary Crompton and Clare Lyonette has taken into consideration five countries: two Scandinavian welfare states Finland and Norway and other three European countries Britain, France and Portugal.
The article has comparatively discussed the circumstances of women’s employment, and the nature of state supports for mother’s employment and caring responsibilities, in the five countries under investigation. Finland and Norway, Scandinavian welfare states as the name implies provide generous levels of universal welfare support to its citizens. Welfare supports extend to family supports as far as support for the ‘dual-earner’ family model, where good provision of public day-care services and eldercare, as well as paid parental leave and caring entitlements.
The poverty rates among families with children are very low, and women’s employment rates are very high with 67. 3 percent in Finland and 73. 8 percent in Norway. In contrast to these countries, the other three European countries had very little or no welfare benefits provided to their citizens by the state. The French children between the age of three and six attend state nursery schools, and parents get tax relief on childcare expenses. These state supports have been pro-natalist, rather than providing equality to women.
Yet, these child care support have helped women into employment, as 56. 4 percent are employed, mostly working as full-time. The Brits, are expected to make their own child care arrangements. The government has contributed little to the direct provision of childcare and the growth in childcare places has largely taken place in the private sector. In order to reduce child poverty government has increased parental employment, along with cash transfers to low paid working parents.
This has led British women employment participation to 57 percent, much of it being part time. The Portuguese women have the highest employment level among the three European countries with 61. 2 percent working. It is not because of gender equality or state provisions. Portugal being a migrating country, women had to join the labor force in the home country in order perform daily activities in an economy and keep families out of poverty. The level of state welfare spending is the least among the five countries taken into consideration in this research.
The five countries under examination in this article, show considerable variation in the nature and extent of supports they offer to dual-earner families, as well as in the normative policy context within which these supports have been developed. The two Nordic welfare states offer the most substantial level of support, and ‘state feminism’ has played an important part in shaping them. Although France is by no means a ‘universalist’ welfare state, nevertheless, the level of childcare support offered to mothers is relatively extensive and of long standing.
However, these supports have been directed at children and mothers, rather than with the aim of promoting gender equality as such. In Britain and Portugal, dual-earner family supports are relatively modest (although improving). Given these rather different national contexts, if a ‘societal’ effect is noticeable, we might expect that levels of work-life balance will be highest in the Scandinavian countries and lowest in Britain and Portugal, with France located somewhere in between. (This view is clearly evident in the irst article reviewed here, “Multiple Role Occupancy in Midlife: Balancing Work and Family Life in Britain” by Maria Evandrou, Karen Glaser, and Ursula Henz,) . Work Life Conflict: Individuals experience conflict between work and family demands because of value incompatibility between individual and family member or with organization (Pamela L Prerewe and Wayne A. Hocwater, 2001- “Can we have it all”). The authors further argue that work life conflict leads to job and life dissatisfaction because the conflict prevents them from attaining work and family values.
Similarly, Schieman, McBrier, Van Gundy in their article “Home to Work Conflict and Emotional Distress”, agree that there is relationship between conflict and nature of job. The authors examined the relationship between autonomy and routineness of work with home-work conflict. From their research, they found that both men and women experience high anxiety and depression when the job is routine and less flexible. Autonomous jobs on the other hand, entail solving complex problems, taking initiatives and higher freedom which provides sufficient resources to protect against the effect of the home-conflict spillover.
Hence, Schieman, McBrier and Van Gundy support the argument made by Prerewe and Hocwater about work-life conflict by extending the distinction between routine and non-routine jobs causing dissatisfaction. The desired balance in work-life is not achieved due to the conflict arising from the difference between the family and work values. Sometimes personal or family life interferes with the work (e. g. staying home to care for sick) that prevents a person from achieving his/her work deadline while sometimes work interferes with family life (e. g. late business meeting) that makes it impossible to attend a family dinner.
All these create a conflict which prevents a person to attend a balance between work and life. Over the past few decades, researchers have spent a great deal of time studying what happens when people combine paid work with the responsibilities of personal or family life. They have found that although striving to satisfy the demands of work and life can improve psychological and physical health, it can also involve considerable challenges. Many employees find that the demands of their work and personal or family lives are at least partially incompatible and thus cause some degree of work-family conflict or more generally wok-life conflict.
Work life conflict creates frustration among individuals which results into anxiety and depression. The ratio of depression is higher among the women than on men. In addition, work life conflict creates negative attitude towards work and this is articulated by Jeremy Reynolds in his article “In face of conflict- Work life conflict and desired work hour adjustment” where he has stated that the relationship between work- life conflict and desired hours of work. He points out that when people feel imbalance between their personal and work life, they want to work less number of hours.
He states that women are more likely to prefer fewer hours regardless of whether conflict arises from interference of home to work or work-home while men decrease their work hours only when work interferes the personal lives. His research showed that 65. 2% of men and 66. 7% of women wish to work for fewer hours. He further examines the loss of productivity in organization due to individuals desiring less working hours. A number of studies document that home-to-work conflict has negative consequences for emotional health, physical well-being, or life satisfaction.
Home-to-work spillover may also erode work-role performance. For example, home-related difficulties can cause workers to waste time, lack concentration, rush through tasks, and realign schedules to handle opposing demands. The study of “Home-to-Work Conflict” by Schieman, McBrier and Gundy has three aims: (1) to test if home-to-work conflict is associated with symptoms of anxiety and depression among women and men; (2) to determine if those effects are moderated by work qualities such as autonomy, routinization, and noxiousness; and (3) to explore variation among those patterns by gender.
As reported elsewhere, women in this sample report a significantly higher level of depressive symptoms and anxiety. Also, women in the sample are more likely to be divorced and less likely to be married than men. In addition, men tend to work more weekly hours on average, report higher personal incomes, and occupy jobs with greater autonomy and more “noxious” environments. Finally, women report slightly higher home-to-work conflict, but the difference is not statistically significant.
Both women and men who are employed in work that “drags” and is routine tend to report more symptoms of anxiety and depression. Moreover, routine work is associated more strongly and positively with those emotions at all levels of home-to-work spillover. Home-to-work conflict is distressing, but the form of that effect varies by gender and work quality. Distress can increase absenteeism and dissatisfaction, and undermine productivity. Thus, employers have an interest in helping employees cope with stress.
Such efforts could be informed by knowledge about the complex links among gender, role quality, and inter-role stress. Most studies on Work-Family Balance have tended to focus on women’s ability to reconcile employment and motherhood. From the 1997 National Study of the Changing Workforce, it found that work-life conflict makes women want to decrease the number of hours they work whether the conflict originates at home or at work. Men only want to decrease their hours when work-life conflict originates at work, and some men facing frequent conflict actually want to increase their hours.
The research found that having children does not increase the likelihood of wanting to work fewer hours but having a higher income does.. The article “Impact of Life-Cycle Stage and Gender on the Ability to Balance Work and Family Responsibilities” by Higgins, Duxbury and Lee have found that life-cycle stage is associated with work and family-role demands and work-family conflict. Organizations, faced with the prospect of losing those talented men and women who are unable to cope with the dual demands of work and family, may want to reconsider outdated personnel olicies and expectations. WLB for Parents (Work-Life Conflict and Childrens) Finding a suitable balance between work and daily living is a challenge that all workers face. In particular, families are most affected. Some couples would like to have (more) children, but do not see how they could afford to stop working. Other parents are happy with the number of children in their family, but would like to work more. This is a challenge to governments because if parents cannot achieve their desired work-life balance, not only is their welfare lowered, but so is development in the country.
If parents have to choose between earning money and looking after their children, the result is that there will be too few babies and too little employment. Christopher Higgins, Linda Duxbury and Catherine Lee in “Impact of life cycle stage and gender on ability to balance work and family responsibilities” state that balancing work and family is more problematic for mother with young children because society expects them to carry their primary responsibility for child care. This interferes with organizational expectation and they experience higher level of conflict than men.
Similarly, Rebekah A. Cardenas and Debra A. Major in their article “Employment and Breastfeeding” review about decreased breastfeeding duration caused by conflict arising from incompatibility between family and work values. According to the article, mothers in the workplace with children under 1 year of age are not initiating or prematurely discontinuing breastfeeding, even in light of the documented health benefits of breastfeeding. This increases their stress which if is extreme will lead a breastfeeding mothers to leave the role of an employee.
According to Rebhekah A. Cardenas, 40% of women who are working don’t breastfeed their children which hamper employers, employee and infants. Many organizations have initiated many programs like lactation program, flexibility, parental education, and telecommuting. In 1990, 69% of women return to work after baby is 3 months. In USA, returning to work had negative effect on breastfeeding. It talks about the obstacles encountered when attempting to fulfill both roles, conflict between work and family is he reason discontinued breastfeeding, only through organization is initiative of mother will be able to maintain longer duration of breastfeeding. It seems that this problem is increasing over time due to high female labor force participation rates, increasing numbers of single parent families, the predominance of the dual-earner family and emerging trends such as elder care. It is further exasperated with globalization, an aging population, and historically low unemployment. Balancing work and family is clearly more problematic for mothers than for fathers.
In contrast to late 1970s, current dual-income fathers are at least beginning to accommodate their wives’ employment by increasing the amount of time spent on child care. The lower time spent by women in family roles is partly determined by the long-term trend toward fewer children. The higher level spent by men is probably due to changing values and increased pressure from wives to contribute more. This finding supports Christopher Higgins, Linda Duxbury and Catherine Lee’s identification of shift in culture towards greater involvement by fathers.
Although husbands have increased the amount of time they spend in child care activities, data indicate that both mothers and fathers still perceive that it is the woman who has primary responsibility for child care. These results suggest that gender differences in work-family conflict will continue until men take more responsibility at home and do not merely help out. For men, the hours spent were constant across the life-cycle stages. For women, however, the amount of time doing home chores and errands was highest for the period in which the children were between 6 and 12 years of age.
Mothers also spent significantly more time on home chores than fathers. Women reported experiencing significantly greater role overload than did men. Role-overload was highest when the children are young and lowest in families with older children. Schwartz indicates that many women today feel that career progression and having children are mutually exclusive. One strategy these women use to advance at work and compete with their male counterparts is to delay having children until their career is established. In fact, in 1991, the mean age when managerial and professional women had their first child was 31.
According to Wharton and Erickson, family and work structure consisted of different role expectations and would result in different forms of emotion management. When there were remarkable discrepancies between the roles expectations and emotional management style, work family interference might occur. Work-time Demand and Work-family Interference: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) mentioned interference between the work and family domains as one of the 10 major problems in the workplace.
Today, four out of every ten workers struggle with combining work and non-work demand, where work more often interfere with the family than the family interfering with work. Thus, work-time control may be a powerful tool to help workers maintaining a good work-family balance. According to the research made by Geurts, Beckers, Taris, Kompier and Smulders in the article “Work time Demands and Work-Family Interference: Does Work time Control Buffer the Adverse Effects of High Demands? , it suggests that long working days should be prevented, and that work time control may be a powerful tool to help workers maintaining a good work-family balance. The rational view of work-family conflict postulates that the amount of conflict one perceives rises in proportion to the number of hours one expends in both work and family roles. According to this view, the more hours a person spends in work activities, the more he or she should experience interference from work to family. Similarly, the more time spent in family activities (i. e. home chores and child care), the more he or she should experience interference from family to work. It also predicts that the total amount of time spent performing work and family roles is positively associated with role overload. The theories predict lower levels of work-family conflict for parents with older children. Chapter III: Conclusion Work-life balance is about people having a measure of control over when, where and how they work. It is achieved when an individual’s right to a fulfilled life inside and outside paid work is accepted and respected as the norm, to the mutual benefit of the individual, business and society.
The key to achieving work-life balance is having a sense of control and empowerment. What work-life balance means varies for individuals and changes over the course of one’s life. In essence, time is of incredible value to both employers and the employees today. Savvy employers are realizing this and using work life balance programs and perks to attract talent they may otherwise not afford. These days, many talented workers are not looking for more money. They are instead looking for better quality of life which you get through work life balance.
So, even if one is not able to negotiate a higher salary, one can use work life balance as a leveraging tool to create the lifestyle that one desire. Evidence suggests that improvements in people management practices, especially work time and work location flexibility, and the development of supportive managers, contribute to increased work-life balance. Work-life balance programs have been demonstrated to have an impact on employees in terms of recruitment, retention/turnover, commitment and satisfaction, absenteeism, productivity and accident rates.
Companies that have implemented work-life balance programs recognize that employee welfare affects the “bottom line” of the business.. However, increased flexibility, if implemented without conditions and used to facilitate business ends without provision for worker consent, could compromise instead of enhance work life balance. Finally, self-management is important; people need to control their own behavior and expectations regarding work-life balance.