Work Life Balance

Changing Work Life Balance.


  • Global 24 hour economy.
  • New forms of Organisations.
  • More-flexible & more-variable work hours.
  • 24 Hour Operations/Shift Work
  • Long work hours culture
  • Flexible firms (contract work)
  • Challenges for HR.

          The work life balance questions what impact might the changes in the organisation of work have on the individual?

 Impact on Employees:

  • Biological & social rhythms
  • Lifestyle
  • Time & psychological energy to share with family, friends, relatives, leisure time
  • Impact on Women
  • Difficulty assessing quality or productivity of managerial work so commitment (measured in terms of time) often used.

 What is a Good Work-Life Balance?

  • Having ability to fulfil both work & other responsibilities (Hobson et al, 2001)
  • A situation in which workers feel that are capable of balancing their work & non-work commitments & for the most part do so (Moore

Assume that:

  • Improving employee’s work-life balance leads to greater productivity, company loyalty & job satisfaction
  • WLB can best be maintained by programmes & initiatives taking advantage of flexible working practices

Different types of flexible work have differing effects and several factors need to be taken into consideration, one seize does not fit all.

Russell et al. (2009) measured effect of flexible work on work pressure and work-life conflict:

l  Part-time work: reduced both

l  Job sharing: no effect

l  Flexitime: reduced both somewhat

l  Working from home: increases both

View: Which is a challenge for HR:


  • People should keep their personal lives at home,
  • Being present equals being productive/ hours at work equals performance/results,
  • Management will lose control,
  • Benefit programs can make people happier, but not more productive,
  • Family-friendly policies are soft human resources issues, mainly for women,
  • Benefits to employees are diffuse & difficult to quantify
  • Admin costs & disruption
  • Fears of Backlash from non-carers
  • Increases pressure on other staff to maintain a presence
  • Difficulties in implementing flexible working (e.g. performance management, communications, team working)
  • Lack of guidance in implementing flexi work
  • Difficulty deciding who should have access to flexible working arrangements.


Why WLB policies are not being adopted by companies:

  • To convince Senior Management to actively promote & adopt such policies
  • Mixed messages in relation to acceptability
  • Opening the floodgates to unlimited demand?
  • Employees will take advantage
  • One program is good for everyone,

Why WLB policies are not being taken up by employees:

  • Participation will be a career-limiting move.
  • It’s only for non-managerial positions,
  • Flexible people are ‘clock’ driven & not work driven
  • You can’t do a senior manager job on a part-time basis.
  • Difficult to stay motivated.
  • Isolation.

It seems that the WLB issue is increasing over time due to high female labour force participation rates, increasing numbers of single parent families, the predominance of the dual-earner family and emerging trends such as elder care. It is further exasperated with globalization, an aging population, and historically low unemployment.


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