In today’s dynamic job environment, many employees struggle to balance their work with family life and other non-work domains of their being. work-life balance is a highly important concept to Human Resources Management (HRM) since it brings benefits to not only employees but also their organizations and larger communities. Workers who maintain the work-life balance are more motivated and productive than those who invest a lot of time at work, but whose needs in non-work facets of life are not met. Job engagement, creativity, and open communication are significant factors of an organizational work-life culture that promotes the effectiveness of work-life practices in a company. Therefore, as an efficient practice model in HRM, the work-life balance is a win-win situational tool for both workers and organizations because it increases employee motivation, job satisfaction, and empowerment, thereby leading to greater organizational commitment.
From the organizational perspective, one of the main tasks of a Human Resources Manager is to provide employees with sufficient work-life balance facilities to ensure that workers know the strategies for achieving and maintaining equilibrium. According to Prakash, work should not distort an employee’s family life and personal development as he/she can lose his/her value as a flexible, well-rounded worker (102). As the life preferences of the modern workforce are constantly evolving, a Human Resources Manager should understand that an employee’s life expands beyond work and family, involving many other non-work domains such as leisure, community activities, voluntary work, recreation, and education. In the context of work-life balance, non-work preferences vary from person to person based on his/her age, gender, social class, marital status, and child-care responsibilities. However, every employee would like to feel free to maintain the family as a topmost priority and spend enough time with the closest people. Although employees’ non-work preferences can be different, the work-life balance helps them enhance their job satisfaction and empowerment.
Since maintaining work-life balance is challenging for most employees, it is highly important to understand the factors that have a negative influence on the work-life balance. Work overload, lack of communication, and time pressure are the primary factors that deter employees from keeping equilibrium in their personal and professional lives (Agosti et al. 6). To maintain employees motivated and well-performing, Human Resources Managers should provide the necessary support for them by implementing programs and policies that promote the work-life balance culture in an organization. Work overload and time pressure are common issues in many organizations since employees try to do their best to complete their tasks on time and improve their competencies. A poorly-developed organizational culture, which is associated with lacking communication and stressful working conditions, is likely to impair employees’ work-life balance and affect their rate of performance.
Meanwhile, job satisfaction, work flexibility, and tolerant culture are the factors that positively affect the work-life balance in an organization. In accordance with Koretz, the concept of work-life balance is based on the premise that an individual working in an organization should have the opportunity to invest a sufficient amount of time in achieving his/her non-professional goals. A healthy balance between career and family is possible when a company takes initiatives and implements specific programs, which allow employees to work flexible hours. Being tolerant of employees’ personal needs is also a prerequisite for fostering the work-life balance culture among employees since senior managers, who show an understanding of employees’ personal issues and needs, empower them to work faster, harder, and longer. Thus, Human Resources Managers should do their best to promote a respectful organizational culture and ethical HR policies and procedures to ensure that employees have enough free time to deal with their non-work aspects of life.
In the context of traditional working arrangements and employment relationships, the work-life balance of employees is beneficial for both a workforce and an organization. On the one side, employees, who have work-life balance, manage to advance their careers and complete their domestic tasks successfully. Spending much time in the office is the price that employees often pay for their rapid rise through the company (Koretz). On the other side, an organization has an opportunity to retain its best human capital and remain competitive in the modern employment market. By considering the needs and requirements of employees, organizations have a chance to become more responsive and more efficient than their competitors. Indeed, the work-life balance of employees is a source of competitive advantage for an organization since employees develop valuable skills that help them manage their personal lives, reward their careers, and bring positive outcomes for their employers. Organizations that fail to take into account employees’ needs and preferences are at risk of losing their human capital.
Thus, in the framework of an organization, the work-life balance is considered a two-dimensional approach as companies do something for employees, and employees do something for themselves. In line with Pathak et al., the work-life balance represents the two sides of the work-life strategy because it depends on both the organizational and individual efforts (185). For example, if a company offers options such as part-time working, flexible schedule, job sharing, and job splitting, employees have an opportunity to select the best possible mode of work and manage their lives outside the workplace. The implementation of employee assistance programs along with individual efforts to balance work with family life and other non-work domains is an effective approach to the work-life balance.
The work-life imbalance is detrimental to the well-being of employees in an organization due to its negative effect on their experiences at work. In particular, the bad work-life balance results in poor mental health, stress, burnout, and lack of job satisfaction, which altogether cause absenteeism, high turnover, and decreased performance (Koretz). Meanwhile, the healthy work-life balance leads to personal and professional goal attainment as employees have enough time to advance their careers and complete their domestic tasks. The concept of work-life balance can be regarded as a feeling of achievement and enjoyment, meaning that employees succeed in their work, family, friendship, and community relations. Modern organizations should understand the importance of promoting the work-life balance among their workers to obtain an expert workforce, enhance productivity, and improve employee commitment to their employers.
Due to an increasingly diverse workforce, work-life balance initiatives are vital for the organizations that want to be successful in the modern, highly competitive environment. HR practitioners and policymakers should take into consideration what employees need and figure out how to accomplish this mission. For that purpose, Human Resources Managers can distribute a survey among employees to reveal balance-related factors, which play an essential role in employees’ time management, including working hours, flexible schedules, and maternity leave. Such an initiative will help an organization identify areas for improvement and come up with realistic, achievable solutions. As an employer, a company is responsible for employees’ well-being, which depends on an organization’s capacity to spot burnout and avoid excessive stress to a great extent. Hence, an organization should identify whether its employees need more support and take appropriate work-life balance initiatives to ensure the physical and emotional well-being of workers.
Besides, Human Resources Managers can educate the employees on the right strategies for maintaining the work-life balance by offering seminars, webinars, and various informative presentations. Instruction is a crucial step in the development of employees’ time management skills. By allowing employees to have a flexible schedule, a company encourages a healthy work-life balance at the office. Flexible work arrangements enable employees to have a life outside the office, thereby motivating them to get their work done as soon as possible (Koretz). At this point, it is crucial to understand that encouraging good work does not equal encouraging more work because workers often perform better when they have fewer working hours since, in such a way, they preserve their morale and enthusiasm to work to a full extent. Therefore, Human Resources Managers are obliged to promote effective work-life balance initiatives at the office to help employees maintain healthy lifestyles and stimulate their productivity.
In addition to that, employees may not need support from an organization and be prepared to maintain a healthy work-life balance by themselves. Specifically, workers can focus on their strengths and outsource other time-consuming tasks instead of wasting precious time. Improving one’s time management skills can help employees prioritize their time correctly by creating a to-do list on a regular basis. It would be a good idea to divide points in the list into more and less urgent to understand the tasks, which should be completed first. Employees should develop better self-awareness to understand their own strengths and weaknesses when personal issues arise. Workers should stick to their working hours and not bury themselves in work by creating a timeline for their daily activities (Koretz). At last, employees have to make their workplace work for them by conducting an ergonomic assessment and investing in helpful equipment. A comfortable chair, a well-designed keyboard, and an ergonomic lamp will make employees feel comfortable in their workplace.
The success of work-life balance policies depends on employees’ ability to combine personal and work responsibilities effectively. According to Davidson, the disciplines that support work-life balance include self-management, time management, stress management, change management, technology management, and leisure management (24). Self-management is the most important element of work-life balance as it teaches individuals to get the proper sleep, exercise, and nutrition to work productively during the day. The essence of time management lies in making optimal use of one’s day and leveraging available supporting resources. Stress management is a crucial skill for contemporary workers as it allows them to deal with different distractions and pressure-filled situations from the external world and, at the same time, maintain tranquility. Thus, the work-life balance is an indispensable element of employees’ success in the workplace, which depends on how effectively they manage themselves, time, stress, change, technology, and leisure.
A work-life balance creates harmony and stability in an employee’s life, thereby improving his/her quality of life. Since today’s working world is full of challenges, having a healthy balance between work and private life is a great advantage for any employee. It goes without saying that every worker views the best work-life balance in his/her own way, but feeling a sense of satisfaction with work is what is common for all cases. Many organizations help their employees lead a balanced lifestyle because they understand the value of a well-organized, happy workforce when it comes to productivity and motivation. Working overtime or under pressure has a detrimental effect on employees’ work-life balance because if they do not have enough free time, it will result in dissatisfaction, stress, and the end of employment. A healthy attitude toward the work-life balance should begin with responsible employers, who give their employees sufficient freedom and maintain a proper level of discipline in the workplace. Employers should positively influence employees’ efforts to balance work, family, and personal life to increase motivation and satisfaction with their jobs.
What is more, some employees do not manage to maintain work-life balance due to a myth of an ideal employee that creates work-family conflict. In particular, this myth says that the perfect employee is male, full-time, and continuously at work as soon as he graduates from college or university (Eichler). The ideal worker is highly committed to the organization where he works and does not have any responsibilities outside of work. However, such a model is out-of-date in the modern, fast-paced environment because employees have changed their attitude to what constitutes a successful career. The current generation questions old ideas about the importance of an advanced career in one’s life while striving to have a more complete life, which presupposes success in both a professional and personal life. Time has become a precious resource for employees who use it to perform well in other roles within their communities.
When employees want to maintain a work-life balance by meeting the demands that are placed on them by the family and work domains, an imbalance can happen. The thing is that work-family conflict or family-work conflict is the greatest source of stress, anxiety, and fatigue for employees (Pathak et al. 184). That is why a stable, positive working environment is highly important to the well-being of the workforce and the effectiveness of the organization as such employees can operate at very high speed. Modern workers are expected to be adaptable, flexible, and having the ability to perform many tasks at the same time in accordance with intensive deadlines. However, such behavior is likely to lead to the work-life imbalance as employees can overestimate their multi-tasking skills and spend too much time at work. Thus, critical and logical thinking is an essential skill for employees that should be used to distribute their time between work and the family effectively.
As a result, the work-life balance is a complex phenomenon in HRM that has great value for employees and organizations as it has a positive effect on workers’ motivation, satisfaction, and empowerment, which result in better organizational commitment and productivity. Since the work-life balance presupposes a two-dimensional approach, both employees and organizations should take some steps to promote the culture of the work-life balance at the office. Workers should develop skills and useful habits that help them maintain their work-life balance. At the same time, firms should provide the necessary resources and implement programs to foster the work-life balance environment. Hence, employees should not allow their work to become their whole identity but rather try to maintain equilibrium in their professional and personal lives.
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