Based on the above mentioned case study, write an essay entitled “Work-Life Balance” to critically discuss the following questions:
1. Do you agree with Juliet Bourke that the use of flexibility has moved away from its original paradigms?
2. Critically discuss the implications of excessive working hours on the performance of employees and managers.
3. Analyse ways in which employers could facilitate work-life balance during an economic downturn.
In today’s global market, it is important to have a discussion on the flexibility and the work-life balance because both these phenomena have the positive and the negative effect in the organization.
The organizations that are there in this global competitive market are seeking ways to reduce their operating cost and the companies are finding way to reduce their payrolls, since most of the companies spend the lion’s share on the payroll (Collier, 2016). The companies are adopting the workforce flexibility to reduce and at the same time to avoid the redundancies, that is there in the organization. The workforce flexibility provides the employees more time, which they could easily utilize to spend time with their families. Therefore, the workforce flexibility is useful for both the employers and the employees of the organization since, it helps in reducing the operational cost and at the same time, it helps in providing more time that is personal to the employees of the organization (Deepika & Rani, 2014).
There are times in the organizations, where the management have to come up with such strategies that encourages things like staff cutting, although during this time not only the employee is affected negatively. There are some employees, who see this as an opportunity to learn something new. The employees believe that the new knowledge would help them in career progression; thus, the concept of work-life balance is different to different individual working in an organization. Moreover, the concept of work-life balance changes with the hierarchy of an organization, where both the employer and the employees are the part of the same organization.
1. The modern day organization is different from the earlier organizations because most of the time the earlier organizations used to stress on factors such as talent acquisition. In modern day, the organizations do not have such notions in their mind, because, today’s organizations focus on the factors such as work-life flexibility, reducing work week, introducing part time opportunities for the employees working in the organization (Isaacs, 2016). The employers also introduce such work arrangements where there is increase flexibility and the employers of various organizations, only to retain the existing employees in the organization, have introduced this. Thus, the employers are now going for the reduction of the staff in the organization and this reduction is an inevitable reduction, which helps in creating and redesigning the roles of the existing employees, working in the organization, along with creating new opportunities for the employees working in the organization. It helps both the employees and the organization with the new ways of performing a particular task or job. The workforce flexibility ensures that the employees are maintaining the work-life balance along with their work in the employment sector.
Juliet Bourke, although, is not comfortable with the argument of “reshaping” the flexibility in the employment sector. She believes that there has been a shift in the workforce flexibility, but that shift would not benefit the employees in any ways (Palamari, 2012). According to Juliet Bourke, the recent paradigm of workforce flexibility has changed and today the organizations use the workforce paradigm for getting more output from fewer people. Bourke is of the opinion that the unintended, result of this particular line of thinking would not be good for the employees working in the organizations.
Moreover, Bourke, states that the employers could use the workforce flexibility in a nasty way especially during any kind of economic crisis. The employers could reduce the working time of the employees, when they do not have the need of these employees, and on the other hand, when they will have the need they would use the workforce flexibility to increase the working hours of the employees (Brug, 2015). Thus, the workforce flexibility in this case would increase the workload on the employees (Jones, Burke & Westman, 2013). Thus, according to Bourke the concept of the workforce, flexibility does not create a win-win situation for both the employers and the employees, rather the employers use this particular concept for their own personal interest and not for the interest of the workers working in the organization (Blanchard, 2012).
It is important to have workforce arrangement of flexibility in the office environment since this particular arrangement is helpful to the employers and the employees in more than one ways. For instance, there are times, especially during the time of downturn, the client request is reduced and therefore, during this particular time the workforce arrangement of flexibility is useful for reducing the working hours of the employees. It would help in improving the work-life balance of the employees at the same time. The workforce arrangement of flexibility helps in developing a workforce that is highly performing, adaptive and diverse, and this kind of workforce could help in contributing to the organization largely, because this particular kind of workforce meet both the present as well as the future needs of the business.
There is the voluntary flexible work option as well as the leave option for the employees and these options help the organization reduce not only the wages and the salaries but at the same time, it helps the organization in avoiding the redundancies at the same time. There are although certain organization, who could not in any way avoid the redundancies that are there, here the redundancies are something that is inevitable. In case the executive of the organization see and recognize the benefits of the work-life strategies the senior managers as well as the leaders would try to find out new ways to reduce and at the same time minimize the redundancies that are there (Goodman, 2012). The executives should rely in this particular policy because they know that there are few staffs in the organization, who, are at the same time engaged and committed. Therefore, they will add to the profitability of the company. If the work-life balance is, there in the organization then it would help in the higher level of engagement from the part of the employees and at the same time, it would be supportive for the employees as well. Flexibility, does not mean that only few employees, who are working as a full time workers should work efficiently rather flexibility ensures that all the employees, whether the full time or the part time, should work efficiently and should contribute to the society.
During any kind of economic downturn the organization, go for redeployment and flexible work hours, which lead to the reductions, while creating a sense of agile among the employees working for the organization (Shanafelt, Boone, Tan, Dyrbye, Sotile, Satele & Oreskovich, 2012). It is true that after the downturn is over the organization would again look for talent acquisition and thus the employees would have their demand again. Moreover, the employees slowly gain the knowledge that in the downturn they should not only work harder but at the same time, they should work for longer hours as well. It may look fruitful for a short period, but it is not so even for the short-term because, if there were employee, resentment then it would not be very fruitful and productive for the organization.
Therefore, it can be concluded that Juliet Bourke was right, at least to some extent, when he said that the organization had shift from the earlier paradigm of work-life balance and workforce flexibility, and this particular shift is a negative shift for the employees working in the organizations (Christensen & Schneider, 2015). It is although true that there is need for the shift from the earlier paradigm and this particular shift is rather an inevitable shift. The particular concept has both the positivity, the negativity attached to it, and it is the management of the organization, who, should find out a proper solution, which would help the organization to be productive. At the same time should help the workforce to be efficient as well as maintaining the work-life balance of the employees.
The employees working in the organization are unique in their own way, and the time that they require to complete one particular task or job is different. Therefore, based on the requirement of the employees the excessive working hours could be divided into few major parts and those are the following:
Overtime or the extended hours
Extended hours offered to employees per day
Extended hours offered for commute
The long working hours is something that has a complex relationship with the employees working for the organization and thus it is often associated with risk. Long working hours are related to sleeplessness, providing less time for family and for leisure; and due to this reason, there are many problems that are affecting the employees (Boes & Wüthrich, 2012). The problems that affect the employees include the problem like fatigue, turbulence, development of negative attitude and uneasiness. The problems not only affect the performance of the employees, and they produce cheap quality goods and deliver cheap quality services but at the same time, the community is affected by this as well. The retarded behavior of these people creates an unintentional disturbance in the community. The workers who work for long working hours, especially in the twenty-four hours shift, suffers from the problem of decline in attention, alertness and also from the problem of lack of concentration. The community is affected because the employee could affect the environment around him/her and at the same time, the long working hours could lead to the problems like long industrial mishap and automobile accidents. The people who work for the extended hours sits for a long time and thus problems of stiff neck become a pertinent problem. The usage of the excessive mobile phone become a cause for the stress that is there among the employees and the neck nerves also get stretched because of sitting for a long hour of time. The problems not only adverse the employee and the performance of the employees but at the same time it affect the productivity of the organization at the same time (Michel, Bosch & Rexroth, 2014).
Therefore, because of all these reasons the employees may feel de-motivated to work for the organization, especially, if they are not provided with any kind of incentive (Kim & Windsor, 2015). Therefore, it is important to reduce the detachment that the employees have with the work because they work for longer hours, and to motivate them the managers of the organization should take up some important steps and these are the following:
Lesson about time management should be given to the people, and thus, the employee should be given realistic time bound tasks, and they should be asked to complete the task within that particular time (Lyness & Judiesch, 2014).
The manager should listen to both the advice and the grievances of the employees and should try to take proper plan of action to solve it as well. Therefore, there should be both vertical and horizontal way of conversation (Todd & Binns, 2013).
Therefore, if the employees feel de-motivated because of working for longer hours, then the managers or the leaders of the organization should motivate them. The employee can be motivated if the organization takes initiative and cater to the psychological needs of the employees and at the same time, promotion, incentive and extra wages could encourage them at the same time.
The work-life balance benefits previously were referred as the benefits, bonuses that are being given to the employees of the organization and the use of the company cars and the several other things like that. Today things have change and today the organization think about catering towards the psychological needs of the employees working for the organization. Thus, today there is the employee fitness centre and the dry cleaning services are being provided to the employees, by the organization, as a benefit work-life arrangement. It is strategy, which is being adopted mainly by those organizations, who, does not have that much of monetary support to provide benefits to the employees (Jais, Smyrnios & Hoare, 2015). It is important to provide these benefits to the people because these benefits would retain the employees during the time of lay off and these employees during the time of downturn would be productive to the organization as well. Traditional benefits such as the pension, after the retirement and the health insurance policies for the employees of the organization should be provided to the employees (Shah, 2015).
The economic downturn creates a competitive environment within the organization and along with it; there is a conflict between the employers and the government, which creates a pressure on the employees (Grafton, 2015). The employees should be made aware of the fact that they have a responsibility towards the organization and thus, the work-life flexibility is required for the completion of the work during the downturn. The employees of the organization should be made aware that during the downturn, it is not possible to provide effective incentive and monetary rewards to the employees and the employees should cooperate to help the company to come out of that particular situation, and help the company to attend its previous benchmark.
The work-life arrangement could increase grievances among the workers and that could be solved easily with the help of the effective communication that is being carried out at all the levels, including the higher levels (Wiese, 2015). Moreover, in case of retaining the employees in the organization with the particular arrangement it is important that the employers of the organizations are not bias or show any kind of partial attitude towards any employee then the grievances among the employees could increase at the same time. Biasness should not be there in case of assigning any kind of key or important task to the people working in the organization, it could create resentment among the employees, the employers, therefore, should be both vigilant as well as responsible. Therefore, the decision-making quality of the manager or the executive of the organization is very important, as it will help organization, in the economic downturn.
Thus, it can be concluded that in today’s world the workforce flexibility is an inevitable thing. The workforce flexibility ensures that the customers of a particular organization receive the goods and the services even after the traditional working hours. It at the same time ensures that the employers cater to its business needs with the help of the way the employees are working in the organization. Moreover, the employees, with this particular flexibility are receiving more time to spend with their friends and their family. Along with the positive factors there are certain negativity attached to as well. For example most of the time the employers use the flexibility for their own use, to get more outcome with less workers and this increases the work load on the workers. Thus, it creates employee resentment and at the same time, it affects the productivity of the organization as well. Therefore, to avoid such a situation it is important to have a proper management system within the organization. The management will be responsible for creating a win-win situation for both the employers and the employees and not for any one.
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