In the volatile business environment it is extremely tough for the organization to retain employees merely through offering few employment benefit programs. It is essential that the organizations must take initiatives to provide the employees with work life flexibility (Robert Half, 2017). In past few decades the organizations and other institutions had their entire focus on achieving higher work life balance so that the employees can have improved engagement in the organization. But with change in time and scenario, the demands and requirements are continuously increasing. In such case, now the employees demand for work life flexibility instead of work life balance. In the present scenario as well as in the upcoming future there will be enormous changes which will take place in the structuring of the organizational workplaces. This will have both positive as well as negative impact over the employees as well as over the human resource management (Acas, 2015). To achieve competitiveness and long term sustainability the organizations are moving towards achievement of higher work life balance. The report will highlight several aspects of work life balance and the manner in which it will replace the aspect of work life balance in the coming time frame. The report will also throw lights upon the various implications of work life balance for the employees as well as for the HRM. The way in which leaders will have to act differently and the way in which employees have to develop new skills and competencies top work in such a changed environment.
Work-Life Flexibility will Replace Work Life Balance
In the modern business institutions there is high demand for work life flexibility as the employees are the real and the most precious assets of the organization. Thus the organizations make every possible effort to retain this potential asset for longer time frame. Work life balance is one of that approaches which was implemented by the organizations to attain increased employee engagement. Work life balance can be explained as the association between the job role of an employee and the various other commitments in the employee’s personal life. Both these thing poses a high impact on each other and to maintain a balance between both of these things employees take use of work life balance (Emory, 2009). The government and the organizational employers desire to increase the workforce participation. However, in the present scenario, individuals have an extremely demanding life where they have to struggle hard to manage and make a balance between their professional as well as personal responsibilities. The professional responsibilities include achievement of organizational objectives, team work, achievement of target and efficiency in work whereas in the personal responsibilities comprises of caring of elderly parent, family members and children. It becomes highly difficult for the employees to develop a work life balance and take out time for personal work, taking care of their self-fitness, health, volunteering in other activities of recreation, sports etc (ERICSSON, 2015).
Ideally there is no perfect approach for achieving work life balance as there are number of things which keeps on changing with time and thus there develops high personal commitments. In such situation the organizations are required to focus upon work life flexibility instead of work life balance. There are several issues present in the work life balance which gives rise to introduction of work life flexibility. The issues comprise of increased work pressure, augmented personal responsibilities, change in job role, high volatility in business environment, deceased employee morale and skills etc. These issues pose a negative impact over the performance of the organization as the employees are not able to focus upon their work and their productivity and efficiency keeps on decreasing. Thus to overcome these issues work life flexibility comes in existence (Emory, 2009). Work life flexibility can be explained as one of the most vital components of work life effectiveness. Maximum of the organizations take use of this approach for having a positive response to the work-life needs of the employees, for managing load and for attaining improved retention and recruitment. There are several organizations which work to implement work life flexibility in the organizations. The work life flexibility includes number of flexible working arrangements for example flexible working hours, compressed workweeks, telecommuting, job sharing, part-time working etc (Kelliher and Anderson, 2008). All these are few aspects of work life flexibility which have significant advantages both for the organization as well as for the employees. Benefits such as building highly responsive organization, improved office coverage, reduced expenses, providing a rec recruitment edge, safeguarding the investments, improve employee commitment and morale and improving productivity, recruitment and retention (UCDAVIS, 2016).
The Implications for Employees
The change in the workplace culture i.e. incorporating the approaches work life flexibility in the organization poses both positive as well as negative implications for the employee. Following are few implications for employees as a result of work life flexibility:
It has been analyzed that the primary impact over the employees is that there stress gets reduced or eliminate. The flexible working arrangements provide job satisfaction to the employees as they can attain high work-life balance. The performance of the employees gets improved which resulted into decreased work stress. Therefore the employees are considered as appropriate fit for the organization. The low level of stress and fulfillment of personal commitments results into increased employee engagement (Hill, et al., 2010).
Decreased Negative Spillover
Spillo0ver can be explained as the practices through which the behavior and attitude is being carried over from one job to another. The spillover develops among the family and the work is considered as highly negative as this gives rise to family-work conflict or it may be positive too as there is family-work enhancement. These spillover numbers of time co-exist to some extent. For instance, the stressful and highly pressurized jobs results onto negative spillover in the personal commitments. But with work-life flexibility the employees get rid of these spillovers as there is an adequate balance between the personal and professional lives of the employees (Beauregard and Henry, 2009).
Improved Work-Family Balance
There are primary two aspects of work-life balance i.e. interference of family in work and interference of work in family. The nature of job impacts the family life of an employee in a positive or negative manner and the family situation affects the efficiency and productivity of an employee in the organization. The flexibility in the working arrangements supports the employees to achieve a higher degree of work-family balance which have positive implications over the organization as well as the employee. In various studies it has been found that the flexible working hours provide extreme support to female employee in comparison with the male employees. The rate of work-family conflict decreased with an increasing rate with the implementation of work-life flexibility approach in the organizations (Jeffrey Hill, et al., 2008). Thus the work-life flexibility eliminates the issues of work-family balance and also improves it.
Improve Work Life Balance
The work-life balance can b e explained as the competence and skill of a person to maintain balance among the non-work and work responsibilities. Work-life balance helps an individual to have sufficient well-being., energy and time to fulfill the personal commitments (Government of South Africa, 2012). But then also there are number of issues which are still present in this approach. Thus the introduction of work-life flexibility eliminates these issues and supports individuals to have greater work arrangements flexibility and have greater work-life balance.
Mental and Physical Wellbeing
It has been analyzed that the higher working flexibility gives the employee improved control and choice which poses a positive impact t over the well-being and health of an employee. For instance, in a study conducted over the employers in the extended-care facilities, it was found that, workers possess increased symptoms of cardiovascular disease who worked with decreased creativity and work-family openness. This was identified both through the diagnosed reports by the doctors and biomarker assessments. This study shows that the work-life balance is necessary for the employee to have mental and physical wellbeing (Aging & Work, n.d.). It is analyzed that if the employees are provided with flexible working arrangements then they have an improved participation in the healthier behaviors which results into decreased issues such as work-related impairments, stress and sickness-absences.
Fulfillment of Personal Commitment and Improved Morale
The primary benefit which the employees want to achieve from work-life flexibility is the likelihood to fulfill all their personal commitments which were accomplished because of the extreme job pressure (Richman, 2008). Earlier only the higher authorities can relish these advantages because of the authoritative position. But as per the equity theory where the employees develop their perceptions upon the prevailing equity in the organization there takes place numerous conflicts because of unevenness in benefits and equity among employees (King and Grace, 2010). Thus there were high attrition rates in the organizations. But with the work-life flexibility approach, the grass root level employees also get the similar equity to have improved work life balance. This results into improved morale nod increased productivity.
It is one of the most positive implications for the employees of implementing work-life flexibility. The organization provides flexible working hours to the employees. It helps the employees to have required mobility. They can manage their personal responsibilities effectively as result of increased mobility. This gives an advantage to the employees to manage their work and non-work roles effectively (Grawitch and Barber, 2010).
The HRM Implications
There are several HRM implications which are the result of incorporating the approach of work-life flexibility in the organizations. Following are few implications for HRM as a result of work life flexibility:
Changed Way of Functioning
The human resource management primary task is to have effective and efficient workforce in the organization. With the flexible working arrangements it has been analyzed that the HRM has to change its way of functioning. The increase flexibility give the employees a chance to work on flexible hours and thus HRM has to take care of all the work taking places in different shift hours (Vandello, et al., 2013).
Higher Retention Rate
The increased work-life flexibility has a direct benefit for the organization is the retention rate of the employees tends to increase. This can be explained through the expectancy theory. In this theory, the employees expect benefits and supportive workplace environment (Skinner, 2014). The employees are more focus upon other amenities and benefits instead of monetary incentives. These other benefits such as increased work-life balance results into high job satisfaction. This laid emphasis over the employee to get associated with the organization for longer time frame. McDonald’s is one of such organization which offers its employees with the best possible benefits and flexibility such as the part time jobs, pay based on shifts etc (Crawford, R., (2015). Thus the HRM get positively impacted with higher flexibility s the retention rate of employees up surge.
Need to Have Innovative Working Approaches
It is also one of the implications for the HRM department of other organizations to implement innovative ways to retain employees or to have high work-life flexibility. As the employees tends to compare the work-life balance provided in several organizations. Thus it is essential that the HRM department must have these approaches otherwise the employee can easily switch over to other companies which provide better and highly flexible work arrangements (Kossek, et al., 2011).
The Implications for Leaders and Managers
Whenever any kind of change takes place in the organization it is the responsibility of the leaders or the mangers to execute and incorporate it efficiently. The approach of work-life flexibility is they next phase of work-life balance only. But the leaders of the managers are required to maintain adequate guidelines to attain the desired objectives. Following are few implications for leaders and managers as a result of work life flexibility:
Declined Rate of Continuous Recruitment
It has been analyzed that the higher work-life flexibility results into increased retention rate of the employees. And if the employees retained in the organization for a longer period of time then it poses a positive impact over the managers as it is no more required by the managers to recruit new individuals on a continuous basis. The attrition arte is low and so there are less chances of wastage of resources and time to employee new candidates (Jeffrey Hill, et al., 2008).
The flexible work arrangements provide several benefits to the employees which acts as a morale booster for them. This has a direct impact t over the management of the employees. The happier workforce makes less number of mistakes as well as there are decrease numbers of workplace conflicts. The managers and leaders are satisfied with the employee performance and therefore the mutual understanding among the mangers and the employees leads to effective management (Carlson, Grzywacz and Michele Kacmar, 2010).
Decrease Organizational Pressure
With the work-life flexibility there are also include functional flexibility which results into development of diverse skills and competencies in an individual employee. This results into shared working. The organization is not required to halt the work in the absence of the key people. Thus as a result it decrease the pressure laid upon the mangers for continuous working. The flexibility approach helps the managers to make the work done by another employee (Kossek and Van Dynet, 2011).
Conclusion and Recommendations
Presently the business environment is highly dynamic and so the needs and demands of the workforce. To have higher employee engagement and elevated retention rate it is necessary that the organization must focus upon achieving work-life flexibility. The report concludes that in the present scenario it is very much essential to provide the employees with higher flexibility so that they can achieve an improved work life balance. The personal commitments of the employees force them to move their focus from their organizational job role to individual responsibilities. And this leads to negative implication over the efficiency and effectiveness of the employee in the organizational work. To understand the needs of the employees the organizations try to provide the higher flexible working arrangements to the employees such as part time shifts, higher mobility, and sufficient time to manage the personal commitments etc. There are few recommendations for the organizations which still do not have work-life flexibility that the policies are not enough to have improved employee performance and thus it is necessary for the organization to implement this approach. There must also be continuous surveys so that the dynamic needs of the employees can be analyzed and appropriate policies can be framed according to the requirements. The mangers and leaders must also provide with adequate trainings so that they can understand the work load pressure over the employees and help them getting out of it in a positive manner (Renee Baptiste, 2008). Thus from the overall perspective it can be conclude that for achieving improved results organizations must take an initiative to implement improved work-life flexibility approach at the workplaces.
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