Human resource management (HRM) involves the use of personnel strategies and practices aligned with organizational interests. Work-life balance is a vital HRM function that receives keen interest from top-level management and policymakers. In recent years, most positions are classified as extreme due to fast-paced workflow, tight deadlines, prolonged work hours, and consistent routines. As a result, establishing an effective work-life balance is considered a priority HRM activity to enhance employee retention, boost performance, reduce stress-related poor health, and increase morale.
The Work-life Balance Concept
Work-life balance entails proactive changes to corporate culture in a bid to reduce the risk of conflict between competing interests. These values are job tasks or roles and family or social needs. Workplace initiatives for achieving work-life balance involve temporary interventions, such as reducing shift hours working hours. Additional measures include job sharing, fewer work hours per week, and part-time arrangements, and flexible schedules, for example, remote working (Omre & De Spiegeleare, 2019). Additionally, HRM can support work-life balance through measures that promote staff welfare, such as in-house time or stress management plans, professional psychotherapy, and onsite or offsite childcare facilities.
Job sharing entails an arrangement between employees performing comparable roles or tasks. In this strategy, the HRM can split tasks and the associated compensation between the staff sharing responsibilities (Omre & De Spiegeleare, 2019). The split percentage is computed based on the amount of work done and time spent completing such assignments. A key benefit of this arrangement is that it achieves a work-life balance for the employees involved. Additional advantages include exposure to diverse ideas and skills and business continuity in case of turnover (Kelliher et al., 2018). However, the employees involved in job sharing must have a positive rapport and relationship in order to achieve organizational objectives. The HRM’s role is to provide supportive management, favorable corporate culture, and HR policies that promote job sharing in the workplace.
The HRM can facilitate effective job sharing by giving a collective role description for the employees involved. The goal is to ensure a skill match and consistent performance. According to Omre and De Spiegeleare (2019), HRM also helps divide the role between the employees in terms of the number of hours or responsibilities. Issues that may disrupt the job sharing relationship are addressed. The HRM provides clear guidelines on such contractual agreements involving employees. HRM must also provide support for the individuals sharing roles. The focus should be on goal setting, conflict management, and performance measurement.
Another HRM strategy for promoting work-life balance is part-time schedules as opposed to full-time work. The HRM may allow employees to work on a part-time basis; staff can perform roles per three or six hourly shifts (Kelliher et al., 2018). This arrangement would allow employees time to attend to social and family needs. This type of arrangement is more appropriate for students and people living with disabilities who may not work for long hours.
Compressed Work Week
Working six to eight hours a week is considered a standard work schedule in many companies. Alternatively, a compressed workweek is a scheduling approach that seeks to lower the number of days worked weekly (Kelliher et al., 2018). The staff can achieve the minimum required number of hours by working longer for a few days per week. The normal five working days are decreased to four, granting employees a longer weekend. Additionally, studies have shown that fewer working days per week has a significant positive impact on employee retention (Moore, 2017).
The extra time each week accumulates to 52 additional off days yearly that employees can use to handle personal responsibilities or take a vacation to relax, increasing their level of focus during their work schedules. The staff also report a higher job satisfaction usually measured through performance appraisals. Another benefit to the employer is a decrease in absenteeism rates as employees have more time to cater to other undertakings, such as medical appointments.
Tele-working introduces locational flexibility, whereby employees can work from outside the workplace, as long as they accomplish their objectives. It is also be referred to as working from home or e-working and requires employees to have a reliable communication channel with the office through emails or telephone (Omre & De Spiegeleare, 2019). Before implementing tele-working, human resource management must carry a survey of various organizational issues, for instance, the availability of resources for remote operations, including laptops, phones, and a reliable internet connection. Additionally, policies and guidelines on how to work from home should be communicated clearly to prevent misunderstanding. Such policies include guidelines on deadlines, procedures for submitting work, and strategies for effective employee monitoring.
While teleworking, employees experience several benefits that boost their productivity. They include the freedom and elasticity of tasks improving individual creativity, avoidance of unnecessary expenses related to commuting, and increased productivity resulting from operating within a comfortable environment (Kelliher et al., 2018). However, the freedom to work offsite has some disadvantages. Employees are expected to be on-call round the clock, leading to higher workloads. Also, much time is spent doing office-related tasks, as opposed to attending to friends and family. In this case, separating professional work from personal life becomes a challenge.
Time Management Programs
Time management entails prioritizing tasks and completing them within the required timelines. HRM uses a deadline policy to ensure that duties are completed on time (Kelliher et al., 2018). However, in recent years human resource management encourages employees to create comfortable timelines aligned with the organization’s requirements. To achieve this, strategies for improving individual time-management skills can be introduced.
For instance, time tracking software, whereby multiple timesheets are used to record duties, estimate deadlines, and track progress (Kelliher et al., 2018). One of the advantages of time management is creating a work-life balance between one’s personal and professional life. Managing time properly has also been associated with lower stress levels through prioritization and categorization of tasks or assignments as either simple or complex. On the other hand, procrastination and poor time management can increase anxiety, confusion, and disorganization.
Occupational wellbeing is essential to employee productivity. Counseling at the workplace is considered a short-term intervention used to provide professional assistance to staff at risk of poor mental health, including stress. Organizations need to hire professional counselors to provide psychotherapeutic support to employees across all sections or departments (Omre & De Spiegeleare, 2019). Additionally, it is advisable to have a comprehensive knowledge of the working environment. These insights enable therapists to determine the various stressors and provide appropriate and tailored professional help to staff. Helping employees tackle work-related problems in an empathic and non-judgemental manner positively impacts their professional and personal lives.
The increased integration of work and personal life should not hinder major transitions, such as caring for a newborn. Taking care of children is considered a costly activity and one of the leading sources of stress among employed parents. In order to retain skilled employees, especially the female workforce, organizations are encouraged to provide onsite or offsite childcare facilities (Kelliher et al., 2018). Both the employer and employees benefit from having an onsite childcare facility. Increased engagement and better productivity can be derived when employees feel valued (Omre & De Spiegeleare, 2019). Seamlessly transitioning from maternity and paternity leaves is easier as parents can work either early mornings or late evenings, knowing that their child is near them. Cases of absenteeism are also reduced as more people are empowered to pursue various personal milestones while maintaining a full-time job.
Organizations are encouraged to provide a healthier working environment. Such a workplace has been linked to several benefits, including employee retention, job satisfaction, and increased turnover. Combining work and personal life is gaining attention from all levels of management, employees, and policymakers. Traditionally, employment was characterized by long working hours, tight deadlines, and rigid rules that conflicted maintaining a healthy personal lifestyle. The HRM has a responsibility of developing strategies to enhance work-life balance through deliberate changes in the organizational culture.
These strategies involve reducing working days through compressed hours, flexible schedules, professional psychological programs, and extending personal support, for instance, creating facilities that cater for the employees’ children. Both the employees and the organization can enjoy the benefits derived from having an efficient work-life balance.
Kelliher, C., Richardson, J., & Boiarintseva, G. (2018). All of work? All of life? Reconceptualising work‐life balance for the 21st century. Human Resource Management Journal, 29(2), 97-112. Web.
Moore, S. (2017). The advantages of a compressed work week. BizFluent. Web.
Omre, O., & De Spiegeleare, S. (2019). The role of work–life balance and autonomy in the relationship between commuting, employee commitment and well-being. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 1, 1-9. Web.