WORK-LIFE BALANCE AND EMPLOYEE COMMITMENT


WORK-LIFE BALANCE AND EMPLOYEE COMMITMENT

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ABSTRACT

The research profers an appraisal of work-life balance and employee commitment. It provides a conceptual analysis of work-life balance and determines its correlation or non correlation with employee commitment. The research typify a significant dimension in human resources management as it projects the importance of improving workers moral for high productivity through providing a work condition that enhances a balance between employee work hours and other employee personal and family commitment.

INTRODUCTION

Work life balance describes the relationship between your work and the commitments in the rest of your life, and how they impact on one another.Employers, employees and government want to maximise participation in the workforce. However, in our demanding lives many people struggle to balance work and the responsibilities of caring for children, family members with a disability or elderly parents.For other workers it’s often difficult to find time outside work for study, volunteering, taking care of their own health or participating in sport and recreation. There is no ideal work life balance; everyone is different and the ‘right’ balance may alter over time as families grow older and personal commitments change.Having options about how work is organised makes managing work and life demands possible by allowing employees to work in non-traditional work patterns and locations that better fit their personal commitments. Overall quality of life improves and businesses also benefit from employees’ higher morale and commitment. For employers the capacity to negotiate flexible work arrangements provides an antidote to loss of skills and experience and the high cost of recruitment and retention in a competitive labour market. Employers who provide flexible work options immediately gain a competitive edge in the labour market by becoming ’employers of choice.’

1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

The concept of work-life balance, also referred to as ‘work-life conflict’ or ‘work-family conflict’, has received a great deal of attention from scholars in recent times. Whilst there have been various interpretations of the term, here we use the definition from the New Zealand Department of Labour website (2007) that describes it as “…effectively managing the juggling act between paid work and the other activities that are important to people”. Work-life imbalance can appear in various forms from the inability to remove oneself psychologically from the demands of the job (Messersmith, 2007:430), to a blurring of the lines between work and home life (Boswell and Olson-Buchanan, 2007:593).Despite being a relatively new body of thought, the existence of academic studies on work-life balance is broad. Focuses range from political action (see Bryson, Warner-Smith, Brown and Fray, 2007) to the impact of technologies (see Boswell et. al. 2007) to its effect on worker’s attitudes (see McPherson, 2007). This saturation is hardly surprising given that, according to a report written on behalf of global research organisation ESOMAR, over two thirds of people across 23 different countries believe they lack work-life balance and nearly half felt personally affected by the imbalance (Echegaray, Cornish, and Donnelly, 2006:9).The research shall therefore determine work-life balance and employee commitment

1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

The problem confronting this research is to appraise work-life balance and employee commitment.The basis for the research stems from numerous complaint and the inability of employees to maintain a balance between their official work and personal and family lives. It is also a significant dimension in human resources management to profer solution to work-life balance and employee commitment .

1.3 RESEARCH QUESTIONS

1 What is the nature of work-life balance and employee commitment

2 What is the effect of work-life balance and employee commitment

1.4 OBJECTIVE OF THE RESEARCH

1 To appraise work-life balance and employee commitment

2 To determine the effect of work-life balance and employee commitment

3 To profer strategy to managing work-life balance and employee commitment

1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE RESEARCH

The research shall determine the nature of work-life balance and employee commitment and shall profer a significant human resource management strategy to work-life balance and employee commitment.

The research shall also serve as a veritable source of information for issues on work-life balance and employee commitment

1.6 STATEMENT OF THE HYPOTHESIS

1 HO There is a relationship between work-life balance and employee commitment

Hi There is no relationship between work-life balance and employee commitment

2 Ho The level of work-life balance is high

Hi The level of work-life balance is low

3 Ho The effect of work-life balance and employee commitment is low

Hi The effect of work-life balance and employee commitment is high.

1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY

The study profers an appraisal of work-life balance and employee commitment and elucidate

a significant human resource dimension strategy to managing work-life balance an employee

commitment.

1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS

WORK-LIFE BALANCE DEFINED

Work life balance describes the relationship between your work and the commitments in the rest of yourand how they impact on one another

Definition: Employee Commitment is the psychological attachment and the resulting loyalty of an employee to an organization. According to Kanter (’68) there are 3 types of EC: Continuance, Cohesion and Control Commitment. According to Meyer and Allen (1991) there are 3 mindsets for an employee to be commited to an organization:

1. AFFECTIVE COMMITMENT: positive feelings of identification with, attachment to, and involvement in the organization.

2. NORMATIVE COMMITMENT: feelings of obligation to remain with the organization resulting from values and beliefs.

3. CONTINUANCE COMMITMENT: the result of the perceived cost associated with leaving.

The field of work-life balance, although new, spans a wide range of academic fields. This study examines the relationship between work-life balance and Meyer and Allen’s (1991) three components of organisational commitment. It found that a positive correlation exists between affective commitment and perceived work-life balance. Results also showed that no significant relationship exists between continuance or normative commitment and perceived work-life balance. However, the strongest correlation found to work-life balance perceptions was that of worker identification with the goals of the organisation.

Introduction

The concept of work-life balance, also referred to as ‘work-life conflict’ or ‘work-family conflict’, has received a great deal of attention from scholars in recent times. Whilst there have been various interpretations of the term, here we use the definition from the New Zealand Department of Labour website (2007) that describes it as “…effectively managing the juggling act between paid work and the other activities that are important to people”. Work-life imbalance can appear in various forms from the inability to remove oneself psychologically from the demands of the job (Messersmith, 2007:430), to a blurring of the lines between work and home life (Boswell and Olson-Buchanan, 2007:593).

Despite being a relatively new body of thought, the existence of academic studies on work-life balance is broad. Focuses range from political action (see Bryson, Warner-Smith, Brown and Fray, 2007) to the impact of technologies (see Boswell et. al. 2007) to its effect on worker’s attitudes (see McPherson, 2007). This saturation is hardly surprising given that, according to a report written on behalf of global research organisation ESOMAR, over two thirds of people across 23 different countries believe they lack work-life balance and nearly half felt personally affected by the imbalance (Echegaray, Cornish, and Donnelly, 2006:9).

Literature Review

Guest (2002:256), who provides a general review of the topic, believes that the contemporary prevalence of work-life imbalance is caused by the excessive demands of work in affluent societies. Factors such as technological advancements, the increasing need for higher efficiency levels and the entrance of women into the workforce (Guest, 2002:257) all contribute to the intensity of pressure on workers and cause inter-role conflict between the work and non-work spheres.

Publications discussing findings from The Australian Survey of Social Attitudes 2003 (Wilson, Meagher, Gibson, Denemark& Western, 2005 and van Wanrooy& Wilson, 2006) are useful for placing matters of work-life balance into an Australian context. Van Wanrooy et.al. (2006:349) found that those who work longer hours, despite reporting a higher work-family conflict, believe that long working hours are a choice. The authors claim that this perception is the result of the ‘liberal’ working time regime that exists in Australia (van Wanrooy et. al. 2006:350) wherein unreasonable demands on workers are structurally ingrained in culture. Subsequently, the gap between hours that workers would prefer and those they actually commit to is simply accepted due to the institutionalisation of standards and absence of solid legislation to regulate long working hours in the Australian workforce.

The results of The Australian Survey of Social Attitudes 2003 also show that the work-life balancing act impacts in greater (albeit slightly) levels on Australian families (Wilson et. al. 2005:55). Edgar (2005:3) notes the guilt experienced by parents who perhaps don’t spend as much time as they ‘ought’ to with their children due to work commitments. This is captured in the reflective piece by Stevens (2007), an artist who yearns for a healthier work-life balance. She writes:

My days were too full of distractions and interruptions. When I drew, I felt guilty about being away from my family. When I was with my family, I felt guilty about not drawing.

Whilst this example is useful in contextualising the damage work-life imbalance can cause Australian families, we now shift the focus to why this increasing trend is having a bearing on the attitudes and behaviours of workers; of immense relevance to organisations (Siegel, Post, Brockner, Fishman and Garden, 2005:13).

Drawing on an article in The Age newspaper, Gettler (2007:14) explains how advancements in technology and the onset of globalisation have produced a “syndrome of 24/7 availability”. It is through the accessibility of devices such as laptops, BlackBerrys and PDAs that work has entered the private realm and enabled workers to carry out job responsibilities from anywhere in the world. According to Gettler (2007:14) organisations are increasingly realising the need to provide solutions to their employee’s conflict between life spent working and time devoted to the family and other personal commitments. ‘The Way Ahead Report’ published by Managing Work/Life Balance International (2007) documents results of an annual benchmarking survey into the status of the work-life balance programs of organisations throughout Australia. The report promotes the benefits of participation to employees and also creates a standard for organisations to strive for.

In fact there are academic articles available that have sought to measure the effects of employer initiatives designed to minimise work-life conflict. For example Premeaux and Adkins (2007:705) reported that family-friendly policies (FFPs) contribute minimally to workers’ feelings of inter-role conflict. It would be expected, however, that employee support programs would improve the worker’s relationship with the organisation. The findings of Premeaux et.al. (2007:722) support this assumption; however it is through the antecedents of managerial support and less consequences of using FFPs that the connection is made. Workers may believe accepting such personal benefits as maternity leave to be frowned upon and therefore detrimental to their career. Thus, managerial support combined with cultural encouragement of family-friendly programs contribute positively to both work-life balance and organisational commitment.

In a similar vein, the study by Siegel et. al. (2005:14) was based on the hypothesis that low levels of work-life conflict and high levels of procedural fairness result in employee outcome favourability – which interact to influence organisational commitment. The results found that higher levels of work-life conflict do not necessarily lead to a decreased organisational commitment and that procedural fairness is a mitigating factor (Siegel et. al. 2005:17). Messersmith’s (2007:431) article summarises the body of research on the work-life conflict experienced by IT professionals and finds that work-life conflict is negatively correlated to organisational commitment. Within the Australian construction industry a survey amongst females found that whilst career and work environment were important predictors of organisational commitment, family variables, such as number of dependent children, failed to relate (Lingard and Lin, 2004:415).

Adding a technological dynamic to the relationship between work-life balance and organisational commitment, Boswell et. al. (2007:592) discovered that those more likely to use communication devices after working hours recorded higher ambition and job involvement levels. Despite not finding a connection between communicative technology use and emotional organisational commitment, the use of these devices during non-work time correlated positively with employee work-life conflict (Boswell et.al. 2007:603).

It should be noted that organisational commitment is a dynamic that is changing as work is no longer necessarily a major source of one’s identity (Bauman, 2005:27). Guest (2002:257-258) investigates the intentions of the new generation of workers, who supposedly place greater importance on achieving a work-life balance than previous generations. He reasons that these workers are less willing to display commitment to the organisation due to the unstable employment market and trend towards high employee turnover (Guest, 2002:257). The Meaning of Work Team (1987) used the question “would you still work if you won enough money never to need to work again?” to gauge the extent to which work is a central life interest. While most would perceive their motivation to work as stemming from the need to generate income it is possible that when faced with the decision to give up work this consciousness may be challenged.

Research Aims

This research aims to build on the theoretical framework provided by Meyer and Allen (1991) on organisation

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