Work life balance has been one of the most fundamental pillars in enhancing the overall employee performance. This is through involving in strategies, which ensure employees are able to balance their involvement in their respective jobs and family lives. It has several benefits to not only the employees, but also the organizations implementing strategies gearing towards work-life balance. Through better work-life practices, employees are able to attend to their children by giving them guidance and other parental activities, which enhance stability in their families as well as reducing social conflicts. It is also vital in taking care of the elderly in the society to enhance their standards of life and health standards. In addition to the social benefits, employees also benefit from getting time to involve in charity activities and further studies, which enhances their productivity.
Keywords: work-life balance, social conflicts, information communication technology, human resource policies, job satisfaction.
Work-life balance is the concept that facilitates employees’ efforts towards splitting their time and vitality between their careers and other vital facets in their day-to-day lives. It is the day-to-day efforts to create time for one’s family members, friends, and participation in the community activities, individual growths, personal care and the spiritual demands (Kar & Misra, 2013). Employers facilitate activities, which are geared towards enhancing a balanced work life. Therefore, they establish policies, procedures and practices that permit employees to chase more balanced work lives. Seeking a balanced work life is vital in reduction of stress among employees since they involve in job related activities, which make them neglect other equally important social activities. Neglect of employees’ social activities leads to stress and unhappiness since there is inadequate time for relaxation and attending to the social activities, which are sources for recreation as well as finding the necessary solutions to their family problems (Hayman & Rasmussen, 2013). The massive benefits of work-life balance have made most employers to involve in flexing their work schedules to enable employees attend to family and other social activities.
Impeccable management practices to employees pursuing their work-life balance is necessary to enhance long-term productivity, which is favorable for the organization’s overall performance. Therefore, work-life balance is fundamental in helping people carry out their responsibilities like attending to the elderly and children (Chandra, 2012). This paper gives a comprehensive discussion on the importance of work-life balance among the employees who have responsibilities of taking care of children and adults. Work-life balance is also necessary in enhancing a complete employee who is able to interact with people in the organization, which is facilitated through the skills from the balanced works-life. It makes use of the available literature from the secondary sources including books, peer reviewed journals and dissertations.
To start with, work life balance is important in the creation of favorable working environments through healthy working environments, which is necessary in enabling employees be productive in their jobs. According to Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, social satisfaction is one of the fundamental factors leading to employee satisfaction (Chandra, 2012). Therefore, work-life balance will be vital in motivating employees through enhancing their social satisfaction. This will be vital in reducing the socially constructed stresses, which are usually mitigated through attending to social issues. As such, employee loyalty and will be enhanced through work-life balance, which increases productivity through increased output.
Work-life balance is vital in mitigating conflicts in their families. For instance, according to Akanji (2012), employees who do not spend time with their families are prone to interfamily conflicts, which is a threat to their social stability. Spending time with the elderly as one of the strategies of work-life balance leads to a healthy relationship with the elderly, which further increase in their life span. Interacting with the elderly enhances their health through giving them the necessary inspiration from their children. The balance will be necessary in monitoring the growth and development of employees’ children. This is through availability of adequate time for monitoring children’s health and discipline status, which facilitates a thorough upbringing of children (Evans, Carney & Wilkinson, 2013). Spending time to attend to the needs of one’s children through a balanced work-life program enables one to identify the needs of his or her children in order to provide for them in the best manner possible. This will reduce cases of involvement in criminal activities, which usually result from inadequate guidance of children by their parents.
One of the key factors leading to work-life conflict is the amount of time spent by an employee in the working environment. Therefore, striking a balanced work-life will act as one of the fundamental remedies of work-life related conflicts. Most of the people involved in work-life conflicts are managers and professionals who spend a substantial amount of their time in their offices (Coget, 2011; Edralin, 2013). This is because they do not get time to involve in the conflict resolution practices in their families leading to the piling up of conflicts. The factors leading to increased work-life conflict include struggle for job security, pressure from the supervisors, high work overloads, work-role disputes, dissatisfaction with one’s employment status and the massive use of information communication technology that creates a boundary between employees and their family members (Coget, 2011; Edralin, 2013). This is detrimental since employees fail to satisfy their social needs, which play a vital role in their motivation and social wellbeing. Therefore, involvement in work life balance will be vital in mitigating the factors contributing to work-life conflicts thus increasing employee productivity and motivation, which also results from stable social relations. The stable social relations result from the time spent by an employee with his family members including children and the elderly, which is a fundamental source of happiness.
Work-life balance is also vital in reducing the competition between the job related activities with the family and other social issues. There are numerous competing responsibilities including work, attending to one’s children, routine housework tasks and volunteering in charity activities, which gear towards giving the necessary support to the elderly (Evans, et al., 2013). Therefore, work-life balance is vital in the process of allocating equitable time to each of the social and employment related activities. This will ensure employees not only benefit the employer or the organization they are working for, but also their families and the entire society. Work-life balance will give employees time to attend to the elderly within and outside their families, which enhances their participation in social work. In addition, it will also give them adequate time to spend their children and other members of the family thus enhancing happy family relationships.
Failure to initiate the activities, which gear towards enhancing work life balance leads to employee stress. This usually results from their inability to harmonize employment and their social lives, which further results in health risks, increasing consumption of alcohol and other narcotic drugs, massive weight increase and depression (Karthik, 2013). In addition, failure to balance between employment and social issues leads to massive bodily and mental health problems. Therefore, facilitating a balanced work-life will enable employees mitigate stresses related with excessive work. This will enable them attend to the elderly as well as participating in the upbringing of their children.
According to Vanitha (2012), women are more susceptible to the risks of work-life imbalance thus recording extraordinary levels of overload in their roles and the parental strain. This results from the tendency of women to devote more time per week than their male counterparts do in activities like childcare, elderly care, which result from the social constrictions of the society. Furthermore, women also experience minimal support from their spouses in their employment contracts as compared to the females. Consequently, this leads to high family conflicts among women as compared to the female counterparts; however, the work-life conflicts among the males are also increasing. Work-life balance; therefore, enables women to engage in other social activities, which will significantly reduce the high rate of work-life conflict among them. This is because they will get enough time to attend to the elderly and children in their families leading to social stability.
The increasing rate of work-life conflicts among men will also reduce substantially. This is because work-life balance will enable them attend to the family issues through fulfilling their family responsibilities at home (Pandu, Balu & Poorani, 2013). The younger employees working for long hours will also have time to take care of the elderly, which is possible through balanced work-life programs. Most of the organizations nowadays customize their work-life programs to provide accommodations for the lifestyle needs of employees. This enables them involve in social activities like taking care of their grandparents and young siblings who need the necessary guidance from older siblings.
Employers in most organizations are currently becoming more aware of the adverse consequences emanating from employees who are overworked. The cost implications include productivity and operating costs, costs associated with being absent from work, commitment and competence costs. Therefore, the practice of work-life balance leads to high returns in investment, staffing and retaining of employees, regulations and trade union costs. According to Sarker et al (2012), numerous strategies are currently under implementation by the employers to help their employees in the achievement of a work-life balance. It is essential to note that these programs are necessary in the process of handling stress by employees, which enables them to cope with other programs related to their social and family lives. The companies give employee adequate time for joining their families in social activities going out, going for holidays and other social activities within the family. This is of great benefits to employees since they will get adequate time for attending to the elderly and children.
Some organizations have gone an extra mile through providing wellness programs as one of the activities gearing towards balancing their work-life. They provide the gym facilities, which serve as the employee benefit packages. Some organizations have gone as far as inviting the fitness programs like yoga practices in the working environment to facilitate their efforts of reducing stress among employees (Haar, Roche & Taylor, 2012). This enhances their attempts of work-life balance especially during the lunch time sessions. This facilitates the reduction of absolute stresses among employees, which make them reach their area of residence with the necessary enthusiasm to attend to their children and the elderly. In addition, some companies involve in training their employees in better eating habits, which gear towards promoting a balanced work-life (Gratwitch, et al., 2013). There are also stress management programs in various companies including employee-counselling activities, which reduces work related stress. This enables them to attend to their children and the elderly with the necessary enthusiasm thus enhancing social stability.
Work-life balance practices like longer periods of vacation in addition to the compulsory annual leaf is also a strategy, which enhances the advantages of a balanced work-life. Offering flex days and sick off days are also necessary in enabling employees attend their family issues. This enables them to get time for monitoring their children’s academic performance and other social roles, which are assigned to them. This makes in involve in the necessary parental guidance and counselling practices within the family, which is fundamental in reducing family conflicts. For those having the elderly as part of their extended families, the annual leafs enhances integration of their entire families thus enhancing cohesion and attention to the special needs of the elders.
Implementation of favorable human resource policies are useful in facilitating work-life balance through putting into practice time off compensations in lieu of overtime pay programs (Evans, et al., 2013). This is through giving employees paid leaf for childcare, elderly care and solving personal problems. This will facilitate getting an ample time for attending to the social issues in the best manner possible. Some organizations have also organized for working remotely over the weekend to enable employees attend to their families. This is of great benefits since they are able to involve in other social and parenting activities alongside their employment duties. For instance, the women who are breastfeeding the young ones will be able to have time with their babies, which is important for their social and mental developments (Chandra, 2012). This will not only increase the synergy in the employees’ families, but also enhance their lifestyle and health since mothers are able to identify health problems of their babies and take timely corrective measures.
Facilitation of balanced work-life practices enable employees have flexibility in their work hours, which enables them have time to keep face time with clients as well as being available to the clients. Most importantly, flexible balance in employees’ work-life enables them to have time for their children and the elderly. It will also reduce the intensity of stresses emanating from the supervisors, which may lead to social disorganization. As such, balanced work-life practices facilitates more productivity among employees since they will have all the necessary social back up to enable them materialize in their working environment (Coget, 2011).
According to Hayman and Rasmussen (2013), flexibility in the scheduling of job related duties enables employees to pursue their personal and organizational goals without unnecessary pressures, which leads to high employee turnover. This further leads to increased responsiveness to organizational dynamics, flexibility and job satisfaction. It is necessary to consider that job satisfaction originates from employee freedom and adequate time for attending to their family issues in the best manner possible (Hayman & Rasmussen, 2013). In order to ensure maximum benefits from work-life practices, organizations give considerable amount of tasks to their employees, which are effectively handled. This is opposed to giving employees massive tasks, which are handled poorly leading to deteriorating productivity in the entire organization. As such, employers involve in hiring new employees to reduce the costs associated with low productivity resulting from overworked employees. Implementation of job rotation practices within the organizations, reengineering and improvement of work processes are also strategies gearing towards balanced work-life practices.
The work-life balance has also been enhanced through the technological advancements, which has enhanced a globalized market, which enables employees to work for multinational companies at the comfort of their homes. This is vital in ensuring they spend substantial period with their families instead of travelling to their host companies. This enables them to attend to their children and the elderly through involving in social and charity activities in their locality. The availability of communication means including instant messaging, text and mobile phone has made it easier to facilitate constant communicational practices thus enabling work-life balance (Edralin, 2013). This enables parents who are committed in their places of work for longer periods to be able to attend to their social problems from their offices or places of work. In addition to communication from their areas of work, employees can carry home some work and do them alongside their social and parental responsibilities. This will provide the necessary physical presence of the parent for their children, which enhances social stability. However, carrying some work home may be disadvantageous to employees when employers demand for submission of some tasks in the middle of the night.
Work-life balance is also necessary for employees who experience stress and burnouts during their normal working hours. This is because work-life balance enable employees have time for relaxation and recharge. This enhances their performance due to increased energy resulting from work-life balance. Work-life balance also enables employees to reduce chances of falling sick due to inadequate sleep, poor eating habits and failure to exercise (Jain & Nair, 2013). This has adverse effects on the family members since most of the employees will have be too stressed to attend to the social issues. Therefore, balanced work-life enables employees spend time with their family members, which make them refreshed and energized when they return to their normal duties sis the workplace.
Implementation of work-life programs among employees’ enable them involve in activities, which they enjoy doing thus making them better workforces, friends and parents. However, a perfect work-life balance is always difficult to achieve due to the fluctuations in the workloads in the working environment. Most companies tend to harmonize their practices to ensure they accommodate flexible working practices, which distributes equal workloads across the month (Akanji, 2012). Achievement of a balanced work-life is possible trough implementation of frameworks, which ensure employees adhere to their social and job responsibilities in the best manner possible. Additional tasks are also scheduled in a rotational manner to avoid cases of fatigue among employees.
Work-life balance is important in enabling parents who are responsible for the elderly and young children manage their time effectively. This is through giving them time to attend to their social activities like taking care of their children and adults as well as attending further educational programs, which facilitates acquisition of more skills (Karthik, 2013). This further makes them apply their skills in their jobs thus enhancing productivity. It is also important when applying for internal job vacancies since they are able to establish their core competencies. They are also able to reduce work-life conflicts through reducing cases of absenteeism, which may destabilize their careers through suspensions or permanently losing their jobs. Ultimately, it leads to organization’s positive image to the public, which is manifested through motivated employees (Pandu, et al., 2013).
Work-life balance strategy is vital in job stability since employees always get time to reenergize and do their best in their jobs. This leads to sustainable developments, which ensures the needs of both employees, their family member and employers are satisfied. Through balanced work life programs, employees who have massive family responsibilities including taking care of adults and children can generate more income from the part time jobs (Vanitha, 2012). The part time jobs will not only be a source of income, but also a key avenue towards enhancing effective utilization of their talents for the benefit of the society. In addition, balanced work-life practices enables employees to practice their professions through consultancy services and outreach programs, which gear towards getting amicable solutions to societal problems (Haar, et al., 2012). It also gives them time to embrace practical managerial tools, innovations for small businesses and encouragement of research, which is necessary in knowledge expansion.
Balance in the work-life is also necessary in the developed economies, which comprise of many people belonging to the aging population. For instance, in New Zealand and Germany, the increasing number of ageing population makes it necessary to have appropriate work-life balance programs, which ensures all the ageing persons in the society are taken care of (Chandra, 2012). Therefore, organizations practicing favorable work life practices give their employees time to care for the elderly and children. In New Zealand, for instance, work life balance is necessary in ensuring the elderly members of the society are taken care of to reduce the high rates of mortality among such people.
The other fundamental benefit of work-life balance is the ability to enhance the initiatives, whish lessen the loss of permanent skills in an individual. This is through promoting the development of long-term skills, which are necessary for the solution of societal problems. For instance, the ability to involve in taking care of the elderly and children within and outside the family is vital in the promotion of a healthy lifestyle in the entire society (Evans, et al., 2013). This can be through the establishment of children homes and adult care centers, which play a vital role in ensuring social stability within the family and the entire society.
Concisely, work-life balance is the effort, which is undertaken by both individuals and organizations to ensure they enhance their short and long-term productivity through working in more complete environments. This is through ensuring employers give their employees adequate time for attending to the social activities and responsibilities. Social stability is one of the key motivational factors for employees; therefore, enhancing social ties will not only promote social stability, but also enhance their job satisfaction. Attending to children through guidance and counselling, disciple and monitoring of their academic performance enhances the overall wellbeing of children and the entire family including the elderly. Finally, work-life balance is necessary in ensuring a balanced life through attending further studies, mitigating social conflicts and ensuring job satisfaction.