Contemporary organisations are interested in understanding issues that influence employees’ performance. As such, they are developing human resource programmes that guarantee the use of people as the means for obtaining optimal productivity. This concern has given rise to the need to analyse the issue of employees’ lives outside the work environment, including how it affects their performance.
An organisation may end up engaging in the excessive controlling of employees’ non-work affairs, thereby compromising their fundamental rights as prescribed in libertarian ethics. This dilemma leads to a debate on the relationship between non-work and work-life, especially in situations where people engage in work for long hours, including overtime and weekends. Based on this debate, this paper critically establishes that indeed an inverse relationship exists between work and non-work issues. However, it notes that such aspects influence each other negatively or positively depending on the context and nature of their interactions.
Work and Non-Work Issues
Work and non-work matters may interact negatively or positively depending on the nature of issues at hand. The available literature on organisational management documents negative outcomes, especially when workplaces do not allow employees adequate time to attend to their non-work activities. For example, Hoessle (2016) argues that the increased work demand may result in amplified absenteeism, turnover, and poor job performance.
These issues are problematic to an organisation. Attracting and maintaining top talents constitutes a major priority for small, medium, and large organisations (Boushey, 2016). The move to retain employees enhances an organisation’s competitive advantage through the increased productivity and management of customer relationships. Employees’ turnover increases the cost of recruitment coupled with training of new workers to fill gaps left by the outgoing individuals.
Studies on employees’ turnover contend that it entails one of the issues that organisations should address proactively to explore cost competitiveness as a success strategy (Hoessle, 2016). Considering the negative effects of high labour turnover and noting that it arises from work-related issues, organisations look for strategies for increasing employees’ retention levels. One potential intervention entails developing and implementing work and non-work life balance programmes through the human resource arm of an organisation.
Hence, non-work initiatives can help to overcome negative job-related outcomes that prejudice organisations’ success in terms of productivity and performance. However, working appeals to many people. It provides a solution to the challenge of low household income. Hence, people engage in a diversified work to increase their income streams rather than earning money only to meet their basic needs (Boushey, 2016). Hence, a mechanism for balancing work and no-work issues may help to establish an appropriate fit where both an organisation and employees benefit.
Non-work issues encompass all aspects that do not form part of an organisation’s activities. Such elements include home life, time to attend to family issues, for instance, visiting relatives, pleasure, and leisure. Work-related issues include “paid workload, company obligations, relationships at work, performance, leisure, productivity, and workload management” (Garnero, Kampelmann, & Rycx, 2014, p. 928).
Issues such as participating in political party affairs, social clubs, parenting responsibilities, charities, and social work all lie in the class of non-work issues. Garnero et al. (2014) argue that the non-work area has more effects on the job field compared the corresponding impact that the work domain has on the non-work sphere. Depending on the nature of interactions between the two domains, each can have negative or positive outcomes on the other. For example, according to Jeffries (2014) and Tayama, Li, and Munakata (2016), long work shifts ignore an employee’s non-work life activities, a situation that may lead to job displeasure and ultimately turnover.
The issue of gender and capitalism is also a key factor to consider in the workplace setting. According to Hartigan-O’connor (2016), the conventional belief that women are incapable of handling technical jobs in the workplace, as opposed to the usual kitchen, laundry, and other homemaking roles, still holds in many societies, especially those that embrace the concept of capitalism. Capitalist organisations do not involve female employees in their core narratives, despite their potential in transforming the performance and productivity of their respective businesses (Menon, 2015; Nemoto, 2013).
As such, capitalism has exposed women to more tasks, which they have to undertake in the workplace and the family setting (Hartigan-O’connor, 2016). For instance, capitalistic societies expect women to attend to their kids and spouses after work. As a result, balancing family life and work has been a challenge to them to the extent that employers may need to consider this non-work element of many female workers (Ren & Caudle, 2016).
The debate on work and non-work issues underlines the importance of establishing a compromising point where employees benefit from the two domains. On one hand, work is beneficial since it provides income that is necessary to meet basic, secondary, and self-actualisation needs. Although the dominant argument holds that long working hours have a negative effect on an employee’s non-work life, it is important to note that some staff members willingly work for long hours or engage in two or more jobs in a day to boost their income.
Consequently, the question of whether work issues influence one’s non-work life negatively requires a consideration of the sources of employees’ work motivation. For instance, one would argue that providing an employee with an opportunity to work overtime at a higher hourly rate satisfies the quest to increase his or her weekly income. Therefore, such an employee has a positive attitude towards work, a situation that increases an organisation’s performance and productivity. Hence, work-related issues such as long work shifts have a negative effect on an employee’s non-work life only if a worker is pressurised to fulfil such job-based elements (Ten Brummelhuis, Rothbard, & Uhrich, 2017).
Person-organisation fit is critical in enhancing the retention of productive employees. For example, it is desirable for an organisation to retain a new employee who has received tremendous success earning him or her promotions. Retention refers to the maintenance of a work environment that supports current employees to continue working for an organisation. For instance, an organisation doing business in a multiculturally globalised business environment where it retains its employees observes good person-organisation fit policies. One of such policies is Work-Life Balance (WLB) whose goal entails ensuring that employees remain committed to an organisation (Heathfield, 2016).
In an empirical research seeking to relate WLB and variables of job characteristics, Künn-Nelen, de Grip, and Fouarge (2013) conclude that flexible work schedules have a direct relationship with an individual’s non-work life balance. The study argues that providing flexible work schedules plays a central role in integrating individual life with work and family issues. The applicability of Künn-Nelen et al.’s (2013) findings to all work environments has a major limitation.
The variables used in the study are not exhaustive. For instance, some essential variables, for instance, the willingness of employees to work inflexibly for higher hourly incomes that may contribute to the identified relationship, may not have been reflected in the results. However, despite these drawbacks, Giannetti and Madia (2013) build a strong case for the merits of ensuring a good person-organisation fit through WLB strategies.
The Giannetti and Madia’s (2013) research argues that employees become discontented with an organisation when their work life is not balanced with their non-work issues. The researchers further emphasise the importance of ensuring that employees remain happy. They claim that WLB can be an instrumental tool for enhancing satisfaction among employees. In other words, discontented employees are incapable of delivering their tasks within an organisation in an effective and efficient way, a situation that exposes it to a performance crisis.
Directly congruent to this argument, Garnero et al. (2014) suggest that a workplace, which encounters problems when implementing positive work domains such as WLB strategies experiences a vicious cycle of crises, starting with the interference of employees’ work life. The resultant discontentment leads to poor employees’ performance. Contentment in one’s work is an important work-related issue that enhances business productivity (Afonina & Chalupsky, 2012; Hong, Hao, Kumar, Ramendran, & Kadiresan, 2012). However, the literature discussed here fails to consider whether an employee can be highly contented with work issues while he or she is dissatisfied with non-work issues. It only suggests that being satisfied with non-work issues leads to job fulfilment.
Organisations develop and implement various policies that seek to ensure a balanced work and non-work life to overcome operational challenges that relate to poor employees’ attitudes towards work, performance, and productivity. Such policies may also increase life satisfaction among families and friends, hence improving employees’ overall wellbeing (Carlson, 2015). One of these policies entails flexible work structures.
However, such systems call for the need to strike a compromising point. Where the objective entails enhancing employee’s retention, organisations need to determine whether to lose their talented employees (who may be looking for flexible jobs) to their competitors or retain them by enhancing a good work-life balance. According to Lee (2014), implementing good work-life balance structures requires organisations to develop policies for managing employees’ professional and personal responsibilities.
Work and the non-work domains are interrelated. One domain affects the other. In support of this assertion, Cegarra-Leiva, Sanchez-Vidal, and Cegarra-Navaro (2012) argue that the failure of employees to discover the balance between professional responsibilities and their personal life leads to personality conflicts. Work-life literature defines the conflict as a clash of career and familial tasks. The conflicts arise from incompatible pressures exposed by one’s job and family responsibilities (Künn-Nelen et al., 2013).
In the effort to minimise work-life conflicts, organisations introduce policies that seek to improve employees’ working experience by balancing their personal life and work demands. The objective of such policies entails permitting workers to have a high-quality life where they can conduct different activities outside the work environment. Vos and Segers (2013) identify activities such as increasing employees’ education skills, participating in social life, and leisure.
In the same line of thought, Cegarra-Leiva et al. (2012) argue that employees may leave their jobs to attend to personal matters, including maternity, additional training, and taking a break from tedious work. Such concerns compel organisations to implement flexible job policies such as allowing teleworking, video-conventions, availing part-time jobs, and cutting the number of working hours (Cegarra-Leiva et al., 2012). Therefore, failing to attend to non-work issues produces negative outcomes in terms of business or job productivity.
Kramar and Syed (2012) studied work-linked matters that affected employees. They did interviews with participants drawn from Japan, South Africa, and India. According to the authors, the new economy presents work intensification as an emerging global phenomenon.
Hence, working for long hours equates to employees’ commitment to an organisation. However, in the same study, Kramar and Syed (2012) report that a management consultant in India asserted that working for long hours “has become so entrenched, especially in the new economy…we have got to work hard and…literally give up our personal lives” (p. 388). This scenario creates a conflict between work and non-work issues. It evidences the capacity of non-work and job aspects to influence each other negatively or positively depending on the context and nature of their interactions.
Negative interference between work and non-work mainly occurs where job responsibilities have a negative effect on employees’ non-work life. It also occurs in situations where an employee’s work-life situation negatively affects his or her non-work setup. For instance, an organisation may compel employees to be extensively engaged in work without considering the implication of the decision to the workers’ non-work life.
A wide literature has been documented providing evidence on the capacity of organisational policies to foster flexible work as an important domain that positively influences an employee’s non-work life. Such policies are aimed at enhancing organisational productivity and performance. However, the paper has argued that these outcomes depend on how work and non-work interactions and interferences occur.
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