Quality of Work Life
The present era is an era of knowledge workers and the society in which we are living has come, to be known as knowledge society. The intellectual pursuits have taken precedence over the physical efforts.
Some knowledge workers work for more than 60 hours a week. As a result of this, their personal hobbies and interests clash with their work. Life is a bundle that contains all the strands together and hence the need to balance work life with other related issues.’
One must have both love and work in one’s life to make it healthy. Gone are the days when the priority of employees used to be for physical and material needs. With the increasing shift of the economy towards knowledge economy, the meaning and quality of work life has undergone a drastic change.
Quality of work life (QWL) refers to the favourableness or unfavourableness of a job environment for the people working in an organisation. The period of scientific management which focused solely on specialisation and efficiency, has undergone a revolutionary change.
The traditional management (like scientific management) gave inadequate attention to human values. In the present scenario, needs and aspirations of the employees are changing. Employers are now redesigning jobs for better QWL.
The QWL as strategy of Human Resource Management has assumed increasing interest and importance. Many other terms have come to be used interchangeably with QWL such as ‘humanisations of work’ ‘quality of working life, ‘industrial democracy’ and ‘participative work’.
There are divergent views as to the exact meaning of QWL.
A few definitions given by eminent authors on QWL are given below:
- “QWL is a process of work organisations which enable its members at all levels to actively; participate in shaping the organizations environment, methods and outcomes. This value based process is aimed towards meeting the twin goals of enhanced effectiveness of organisations and improved quality of life at work for employees. ”
—The American Society of Training and Development
- “QWL is a way of thinking about people, work and organisations, its distinctive elements are (i) a concern about the impact of work on people as well as on organisational effectiveness, and (ii) the idea of participation in organisational problem-solving and decision making. ” —Nadler and Lawler
- “The overriding purpose of QWL is to change the climate at work so that the human-technological-organisational interface leads to a better quality of work life.”
- “QWL is based on a general approach and an organisation approach. The general approach includes all those factors affecting the physical, social, economic, psychological and cultural well-being of workers, while the organisational approach refers to the redesign and operation of organisations in accordance with the value of democratic society. ”
From the definitions given above, it can be concluded that QWL is concerned with taking care of the higher-order needs of employees in addition to their basic needs. The overall climate of work place is adjusted in such a way that it produces more humanized jobs.
QWL is viewed as that umbrella under which employees feel fully satisfied with the working environment and extend their wholehearted cooperation and support to the management to improve productivity and work environment.
Work life Balance
Work-life balance is a term used for the idea that you need time for both work and other aspects of life, whether those are family-related or personal interests. The saying goes that ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’.
But work, or at least some kind of contributory effort, whether paid or voluntary, is often recognised as being important for personal satisfaction, so it seems likely that ‘all play’ would be dull too.
A ‘work life’ balance refers to an employee’s ability to maintain a healthy balance between their work roles, their personal responsibilities, and family life. Companies are increasingly recognizing the importance of helping their employees to achieve this balance as more staff are experiencing conflict between their work and personal roles. In today’s age, many workers are seeing their personal responsibilities increase, from childcare and elderly care, to volunteer work, and family commitments. This comes at a time when their work responsibilities are also increasing, resulting in a conflict between personal and work commitments and an increase in stress.
Another factor which is contributing greatly to the difficulty in achieving a work life balance is the changing landscape in how and where employees are expected to work. As more and more companies embrace the technological age and move into globalization, work is no longer restricted to the workplace. Employees can work from almost any location with the use of laptops, tablets, and smart phones; and telecommuting is on the increase. Employees can access work emails and assignments 24/7, meaning that they can also be accessible to employers and clients. Although there are multiple benefits to this flexible working pattern, it can run the risk of blurring the lines between work and personal life. Remote working also means that staff may now find that their typical work week is no longer restricted to the traditional 40 hours a week.
The result of a poor balance between work and personal life not only affects employees, but it also affects the companies that they work for. Employee stress can increase to the level of burnout, resulting in lower productivity at work, a higher potential for stress related health problems and absenteeism, with the associated costs related to these being passed on to the company. In addition to this, employees may also experience poor personal and co-worker relationships and reduced job satisfaction.
There are several ways in which companies can help to encourage a work life balance for their employees, both in the policies that they implement and in ensuring that managers actively encourage employees to take advantage of these policies. Offering employees flexible working options helps employees design their work pattern to fit their personal commitments, ultimately reducing conflict between work and personal responsibilities. Flexible working options include allowing employees to work from home, adjust their working hours to meet personal commitments, use remote working, compressed work weeks, and job sharing. Managers should encourage staff to use annual leave and help employees to set boundaries by encouraging staff not respond to work related emails and calls during non-working hours. Some organizations are also implementing wellness programs, which include offering stress reduction and time management workshops, while others are creating wellness centers on the work site, helping to connect employees with physicians, mental health counselors, or on-site gyms.
An employee’s satisfaction in their personal life and their ability to meet personal commitments greatly affects their success as a worker, which greatly benefits any company. Helping employees to achieve a good work life balance increases work satisfaction, increases their loyalty to their employer, and helps employers to achieve career longevity. A company which recognizes these benefits and implements policies to promote a work life balance is one which will not only see an increase in the productivity of their workforce but which also sees increased retention of staff and reduction in costs associated with high turnover.