Work/life balance is defined as satisfaction and good functioning at work and at home with a minimum of role conflict. It is largely associated with matters of employee’s productivity, performance and job satisfaction.
Work/life imbalance has serious costs for employees, the organization, and society. Employees suffer such personal and societal consequences of work/life imbalance as: enhanced levels of stress and stress induced illness; less life satisfaction; elevated rates of family strife, violence, and divorce; rising frequencies of substance abuse; rising challenges with parenting and control of children and adolescents; and swelling rates of juvenile delinquency and violence.
Work/life imbalance adversely affects organizations with: high levels of absenteeism; high turnover; low productivity; low morale; diminished job satisfaction; team dysfunction; increasing health care costs; and lesser degrees of organizational commitment and dedication.
Staff retention, down time and losses of productivity are identified as the most obvious impacts when an organization does not effectively manage work-life balance issues.
Research has found that managing work/life balance is one of the most critical managerial strategies for ensuring employees’ performance and organizational performance improvement. When the right balance is established and maintained, both the employee and the organization benefit.
The employee enjoys: enhanced happiness; superior dealings with management; successful communication; better sense of worth; health; attentiveness; self-assurance; enhanced management of tasks; amplified driving force; and lower levels of stress.
The organization experiences: low turnover and non-attendance; higher work engagement and organizational citizenship behavior; increased productivity, job satisfaction, and organizational commitment; and superior appeal to a wider variety of job applicants.
Here are nine work/life balance policies and programs that an organization can put into place:
1. Compressed Work Weeks enable employees to work their total number of agreed hours over a shorter period, such as working longer hours for four days in a week instead of five, consequently gaining a free day. Compressed workweeks have positive impact on turnover, absenteeism, recruitment, morale and productivity.
2. Dependent Care Assistance is a program in which the employer reimburses employees for dependent care expenses, makes payments to third parties for care of employees’ dependents, or provides a dependent care facility for employees.
3. Employee Assistance Programs provide employee access to practical advice and resources for help with life’s everyday challenges, including: childcare, eldercare, legal issues and counseling needs.
4. Flexible Work Hours allow full-time employees to choose starting and ending times within guidelines specified by the organization. A flexible schedule gives employees more options and is especially appropriate in jobs where specific work hours really do not matter.
5. Health and Wellness Programs provide employees with health and wellness-related activities such as: organization-sponsored exercise; weight-loss competitions; educational seminars; tobacco-cessation programs; and health screenings that are designed to help employees eat better, lose weight and improve their overall physical health.
6. Job Sharing allows two or more than two employees to work part-time to share a single full- time job. Job sharing helps employees manage their time more flexibly, fulfill their commitments, and learn from others while working with them.
7. Paid Time Off provides employees with time off from work with pay for a variety of reasons: to care for another family member; give birth and take care of a new baby; adopt and take care of a child; recover from an illness; funeral or bereavement; disability; jury duty; military duty; vacation; holidays; sick days; volunteer day; and personal time.
8. Self-Scheduling allows employees to schedule their hours how they want. The organization daily checks the number of staff and skills required and lets the employees decide which hours they would like to work. Employees are thus able to schedule their time conveniently between work and non-work activities.
9. Telecommuting allows employees to work all or part of the week from home. Along with increased job satisfaction, teleworkers also demonstrate less turnover and lower level of work/life conflict.
Have work/life programs made a difference in employee performance, morale and retention for your organization?