From birth to death, people have to play different roles which can be mainly divided up into two categories such as roles in family and roles at workplace.
In the struggle to find success, people have to find the balance between these two roles. It can be said that the balance between work and life is the real success that one can achieve in life.
Employees whose life does not clash with works can actively contribute towards the organization. Maximum productivity can be taken out of employees, when they maintain a balanced life.
We are living in a world where competition and unpredictability is on the rise unprecedented. Consequently, management thinkers began discussing about the ways in which work-life balance could be achieved. People are paid for working. People cannot live without working, as they need money for fulfilling basic needs. It means that work and family can never be separated with a line.
In other words, work and life is an inter-related concept. Life is the condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death. Work is defined as an activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a result.
Furthermore, the balance is a situation in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions. Accordingly, work-life balance can be defined as an individual’s ability to meet their work and family commitments, as well as other non-work responsibilities and activities. As work-life balance has an impact on organizational performance, it is up to the employers to bring work-life balance practices into the organization.
It is needless to say that imbalance results in stress and anxiety in the minds of employees. Those that experience the imbalance, tend to exhibit lower levels of job satisfaction and organizational commitment, leading to higher absenteeism. When employees struggle with the imbalance, they project a bad image on the organization. Then, it is difficult for the particular business to recruit best professionals. Organisations need a qualitative workforce, but not a quantitative workforce.
What is more important to note here is that the number of employees working in the organization means wages paid, perks and privileges, while the quality of employees brings values and profits to the organization. Hence, it is up to employers to find the ways in which the quality of employees can be improved. In doing so, employers have to identify some strategies which make the life balanced.
Even though HR strategies can vary from organization to organization, there are some common pitfalls in the organizational structure. When employees are assigned with a heap of works especially to be done within short period of time, their creativity is at stake. Work-life imbalance is a problem with which almost every employee suffers regardless of the position they hold, salary scale they receive. Business organizations need creative strategies, not merely plans, at the same time, many employees are struggling to keep their work and life balanced. Hence, employers have to identify how serious the repercussions of work-life imbalance are.
Impact on gender
The group that suffers most from this imbalance is none other than female working community. Their plight has gone from bad to worse, as they are forced to choose leaving the organization as an alternative to achieve the work-life balance. It is really hard to see female senior managers and more unlikely to see female CEOs in Sri Lankan business organizations. Their inability to keep office life separated from family life has led to this injustice. Due to this, most of the organizations have been unable to fully utilize knowledge and skills that female professionals hold.
Consequently, some flexible policies have to be drafted to accommodate women in the organizations. Money spent on training employees including female employees becomes useless, when they leave the job, because of personal matters. This can be seen in apparel sector of Sri Lanka. If work does not come into conflict with life, women can stay and work in their jobs.
Gains of the balance
Work-life balance can resolve many HR-related issues. If senior managers are able to introduce work-life balance practices which are capable of making a real change in the organizational culture, employees tend to work more efficiently and productively. This is able to reduce turnover intensions. When an employee is not under the stress, he can deliver better service to the customers. Furthermore, the loyalty of employees to the organization is strengthened. Employee with a balanced life style is a blessing to the business.
If seniors brush aside the importance of work-life balance, it may open a can of worms. Surveys have found that employees spend time in the office shopping online, planning holidays or emailing friends. That will make operations unproductive and uncompetitive. Therefore, it can be said that every employee has a right to lead a balanced life.
(Amila Muthukutti holds a BA in Economics from the University of Colombo and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)