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A Report on the Importance of Work-Life

Balance
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.
Numerous studies have been conducted on work-life balance. According to a major
Canadian study conducted by owe !"##$%, & in ' employees e(perience high levels
of con)ict between work and family, based on work-to-family interference and
caregiver strain. *f role overload is included, then close to +# percent of employees
surveyed e(perience work-family con)ict.
,f all the job factors that in)uence work-life con)ict, the amount of time spent at
work is the strongest and most consistent predictor. -he higher levels of work-to-
family con)ict reported by managers or professionals often are a function of their
longer work hours. ,ther reasons include. job security, support from one/s
supervisor, support from co-workers, work demands or overload, work-role con)ict,
work-role ambiguity, job dissatisfaction, and e(tensive use of communication
technology that blurs the boundaries between home and work.
-oday/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 con)ict is a
serious problem that impacts workers, their employers and communities.
*t seems that this problem is increasing over time due to high female labour force
participation rates, increasing numbers of single parent families, the predominance
of the dual-earner family and emerging trends such as elder care. *t is further
e(asperated with globali0ation, an aging population, and historically low
unemployment.
The Negative Effects of Work Life Conflict
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.
According to a 2! study by "u#bury and $iggins, women are more likely than men to report
high le%els of role o%erload and caregi%er strain. &his is because women de%ote more hours per
week than men to non'work acti%ities such as childcare, elder care and are more likely to ha%e
primary responsibility for unpaid labour such as domestic work. (urthermore, other studies show
that women also e#perience less spousal support for their careers than their male counterparts.
Although women report higher le%els of work'family conflict than do men, the numbers of work'
life conflict reported by men is increasing.
Work'life conflict has negati%e implications on family life. According to the 2! study by
"u#bury and $iggins, ) in * +anadians report that their work responsibilities interfere with their
ability to fulfill their responsibilities at home.
,mployees, especially the younger generation who are faced with long hours, the e#pectations of
2*-! connection and increasing pressure of globalization are beginning to demand changes from
their employers. Also, people in the elderly employee segment are working longer now than in
the past and are demanding different work arrangements to accommodate their life style needs.
Current Practices
,mployers are becoming increasingly aware of the cost implications associated with o%er'
worked employees such as. operating and producti%ity costs, absenteeism, punctuality,
commitment and performance. &here are fi%e main reasons why companies participate in work
life balance programs. high return on in%estment, recruitment and retention of employees,
legislation, costs and union regulations.
&here are a wide %ariety of practices currently being used to help employees achie%e work'life
balance. /t is important to note that some work'life balance programs help employees handle
stress and otherwise cope more effecti%ely while other programs help to reduce the absolute
stress le%els by rebalancing work life.
A growing number of employers ha%e implemented wellness programs or pay for their
employees gym membership as part of a benefits package. 0ome companies in%ite fitness
trainers or yoga instructors into the office to hold lunchtime sessions.
0ome companies undertake initiati%es to impro%e employees healthy eating habits. 1thers offer
stress management programs which include stretching, yoga, counseling, as well as bringing in
2egistered 3assage &herapists to work.
3any employers are offering longer %acation times than the mandatory 2 weeks per year
imposed by +anadian legislation. Additionally, some companies will offer 4fle#5 days.
/nterestingly, sick days tend to go down once some is 4entitled5 to three weeks or more a year of
holidays.
$uman resources policies that can be used to increase work'life balance include implementing
time off in lieu of o%ertime pay arrangements, pro%iding a limited number of days of paid lea%e
per year for child care, elder care or personal problems, or ha%ing policies around weekend and
e%ening use of laptops and 6lackberrys.
&here are some issues that arise when employees ha%e fle#ible work hours such as lack of face'
time with other staff and not being as a%ailable to clients7 these issues can be sol%ed by ensuring
employees discuss scheduling with super%isor and let clients and other employees know their
hours of a%ailability.
0ometimes in order to accommodate workers need for work life balance, firms may need to
reduce the amount of work gi%en to each employee. &o accomplish this, employers can hire new
people, reduce time spent in job'related tra%el, allow for job sharing, or ree%aluate the work itself
and how it is structured and organized with work process impro%ements and-or reengineering of
work.
According to a study by 3essmer in 28, fle#ible scheduling is the benefit %alued most by
employees. $owe%er, increased fle#ibility, if implemented without conditions and used to
facilitate business ends without pro%ision for worker consent, could compromise instead of
enhance work life balance.
1vidence suggests that improvements in people management practices, especially
work time and work location )e(ibility, 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,
retention2turnover, commitment and satisfaction, absenteeism, productivity and
accident rates.
Companies that have implemented work-life balance programs recogni0e that
employee welfare a3ects the 4bottom line5 of the business. 6arameters are re7uired
to ensure that programs are having the desired e3ect on both employees and the
company. 8i( parameters that can be used to evaluate work life balance programs
are. e(tent of management buy-in and training, how programs are communicated to
employees, corporate culture, management controls, human resources policies and
employee control.
9inally, self-management is important: people need to control their own behaviour
and e(pectations regarding work-life balance.