Work Life Balance for Working Couples


By

Azim.Khan
Instructor
College of Business & Economics
UAE University. Al-Ain. UAE
 


Right from ancient times human civilization had predefined gender roles and everybody concerned tried to maintain ones activities and responsibilities accordingly. This trend more or less continued un diluted till the eighteenth century throughout the world. The outset of modern civilizations, rightly initiated by industrial revolution has seen immense developments in science and technology providing unlimited convenience and scope to prosper to the humans. This has led to a greater aspiration among both male and female human beings to positively contribute and participate in the productive activities of the society and economy and also to help oneself to bloom to one's full potential. This quest to contribute to the economic activities of the society has promoted use of women workers in industry.

Once these revolutionary and pioneering changes were taking place in the work place, it started to have both positive and not so positive effect on the family life of the workers. So the expression of work life balance was coined and studies were initiated in academia to have a deeper understanding of this complex phenomenon. The concept of "Work–life balance" was first conceived and coined in the Great Britain in the late 1970s to describe the equilibrium between an individual's professional life and personal life. There is prolific amount of literature available on this topic, but there is still pressing need to try to understand it in light of various cultural realms and related interplay of different effecting factors.

The working sphere of human is changing at mind blowing pace due to, progressive reduction in trade barriers, modern innovation in technologies, globally interconnected market place, cut throat competition and business rivalry and changing family and population patterns. These developments are bound to have their impact on the work life and family life pattern of the workers concerned. By family pattern we mean the changing family structure from joint family to nuclear family, altered family value systems, and diminished quality time for self and children, increase in time spent on internet and altered social exchanges and communications. These factors bring out nervous anxiety into the life of the worker and then it is magnified many times if both the husband-wife work and they have children of growing age and old age parents. This constant worry can wreak havoc on the psychological wellbeing of the worker due a feeling of diminished control over one's life and a hopeless perception that there is never enough time to have a judicious stability and balance in life.

In any business and industrial activities it is of utmost importance to have well trained, well groomed and emotionally balanced workers available to take up employment challenges. This highlights the need among the companies to pay adequate attention to the work life balance of the workers. This write up tries to bring out the meaning of work life balance, their causes, their effects on organizations and the methods, systems and processes to reduce the impact of work life imbalance .

Main Factors contributing to the prevalence of working couples

* Rising literacy levels of both male and female population
* Due to rise in literacy of women workers , increased aspiration in female workers to shoulder and share economic responsibilities of the family
* Increase employment opportunities  to female workers
* Rising cost of living compelling families to break traditional cultural norms and barriers of restricting female to household chores and to allow women to work outside in industry.
* Creation of large number of safe employment opportunities for women  in relatively safe working condition in the modern service industrial sectors such as telecom, retail, information technology, finance and banking, accounting and audit, hospitality and wellness  and  healthcare etc.
* Some government and private sector industries are promoting and propagating the entry of female workers in certain employment categories due to the suitability of women based on nature of work etc.
* Government also promotes and encourages the use of Female workers because it leads to increase in tax revenue

Main problems related to the working couples work life balance

* Mismatch in fulfilling the expectations of family roles and highly demanding work roles leads to increased level of mental pressure and anxiety
* In case of school going children of growing years and old age parents, enhanced quality time demand at home often magnifies the stress level
* Absence of personal quality time for self- recuperation and self- rejuvenation leads to reduced appetite and increased tiredness.
* Lack of self time often has negative repercussion on career because the worker is not able to upgrade skills leading to skill obsolence, sometimes leading to loss of employment.
* Dual demand of quality time both at home and at work leads to poor overall  health of worker
* Low worker morale, motivation and enthusiasm to excel in professional life due to  frequent emotional and physical exhaustion

Poor work life balance Effect on organization

* Workers Punctuality, Teamwork, Customer service, work supervision responsibility, group behavior, peer interaction and leadership initiative by workers are reduced due to lowered self-worth and morale in workers due to conflict in  work life balance.
* Creativity, new job-expertise learning and innovation of worker is grossly undermined due to lowering of work related enthusiasm among workers
* Workers having problem balancing work roles and family roles set bad precedent in the company work setting and often upset the congenial work ambience.
* Workers problems gets reflected negatively on companies turnover, operating profit and balance sheet
* Reduction in turnover per employee / sales per employee
* Substantial increase in the cases of workers being absent on the job and in extreme cases leaving the job.

Benefits of work life balance for both companies and workers

* By providing work life balance facilities to the workers the company is seen to be fulfilling a major Corporate Social Responsibility by helping in the creation of role model ideal, happy and contented citizens in the society.
* The company is able to attract and retain better quality of workers
* Workers who have balanced work life are more punctual and regular in attendance there by adding value to their work roles and profiles, and subsequently creating more opportunities for self training leading to skill enhancement, bringing enormous benefits to both the self and organization.
* Workers feel more self-encouraged in taking up company work responsibilities and work related challenges and they also feel more belongingness towards the company.
* Emotionally balanced workers work optimally to meet the expectations of the company and superiors and often try to exceed the expectations of all concerned.
* Satisfied workers are generally more disciplined at workplace.
* Feeling of wellbeing in the workers leads to more constructive interactions with colleagues, workplace superiors, family members, and friends.

To counterbalance the above mentioned problems related to work life issues the organizations can initiate the following measures to arrest and nullify the damaging aspect of its impact on workers life

* Manager should necessarily build personal relationship, rapport and understanding with workers
* Managers should be sensitive and agile to notice any stressful behavior and conduct  among her / his subordinates
* Business Organizations should have formal counseling department to understand the workers work life balance problems and to help the workers to get the solution
* To undertake employees survey periodically to understand the requirements and views of workers related to work life balance.
* Generous leave facility, both with or without  pay in case of family urgency should be implemented
* Shifting employees from fulltime to part-time job roles to lessen the work time demand in order to allow a worker to devote more time to family issues
* Allowing and encouraging Husband-wife team to get work employment in a single company, but different department.
* In case of family commitments and requirements ,allowing worker to work from home as long as she / he assures to be available on internet and telephone
* Initiate and engage dialogue with workers using social media to understand their work life balance  needs and aspirations
* Make arrangement for onsite  infant / child care inside the office for working couples
* To facilitate the fulfillment of family responsibilities the company should offer flexi time work schedules.

References:

* www.stresstop.com
* worklifebalance-wikipedia
* www. usatoday.com/news/health
* http://eng.kilden.forskiningsradet.no
* www.ciimu.org/webs/wellchi
* www.news.harvard.edu/gazette
* www.thecouplesconnection.net/articles
* www.theglasshammer.com/news/dualcareerscouples
* wood,G 2009, Human resource management:A critical approach Taylor & Francis
* Aswathappa, K & Dash, S, 2007. International Human Resource Management, Tata McGraw-Hill
 


Azim.Khan
Instructor
College of Business & Economics
UAE University. Al-Ain. UAE
 

Source: E-mail August 24, 2012

          

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