Work-Life Balance and Flexible Working

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Introduction

The main element of an excellent work is the opportunity or chance to balance between one’ work and family lives. According to an investigation carried out by the National Life insurance Company, 40 percent of the workers say that their jobs or works are very or extremely demanding or stressful. The individuals working in high demanding or stressing jobs are likely to suffer from stress associated health effects thrice than other people. Most of the individuals who are mostly affected by this are the women especially stress related to conflict between family and job. Therefore, work life balance refers to individuals having power over where, how and when they work. It is only obtained when a person’s right to a satisfied life outside and inside paid work is acknowledged and esteemed as the rule, to the common advantage of the person, society and business. In simplicity, work life balance is a wide model involving appropriate prioritizing between aspirations and profession on one hand, compared with leisure, pleasure, spiritual and family growth and development on the other hand. For there to be balance between the requirements of a customer, worker and organization, the following demands have to be observed; different workers will have various expectation or anticipation and requirements at different times in their daily life. Secondly, organizations should consider and respond to the needs of their clients if they are to persist being victorious or successful. Finally, organizations should be a position to handle costs, sustain profitability and productivity, and make sure that teams work efficiently (The Work Foundation 2008, par.1-2). This paper will focus on the strategies or measures that are used in addressing work life balance and flexibility working issues.

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At one point in life everyone experiences issues related to time management, though as more and more persons engage in different jobs, the days look as though they are long and recreation or leisure time appear to be consumed by stressing matters instead of personnel and relation fulfillment. A recent study carried out in approximately 50,000 workers from different organizations indicated that in every five workers, two of them are not satisfied with the balance they have between personal and work lives. Some of the factors that contribute to in-balance include; deterioration worsening of boundaries between family and work activities, long working hours, increased work pressure, changing demographics and a lot of time spent in the car. Work life balance involves the implementation or enforcement of working preparations and strategies that help the employees in mixing their work with other issues regarding their lives. Employers or managers can also benefit from the strategies since they can create a more productive, profitable and committed workforce (Hansen 2009, par.1-2).

Work-life balance

The issues of work-life balance were first documented in the late 1970s explaining the balance between one’s job and personal life. The term was first utilized in the United States in the year 1986. Most of the experts or specialists expected that improvement of information technology would eradicate many family activities and offer more time to individuals taking pleasure in, however, most of them ignored this aspect (Anderson 2005, p.33). Majority of the Americans workforce suffer exhaustion due to stress and overworking. This experience is almost faced by everyone beginning from the blue collar employees to the superior management. They have raised their regular working time from 43.6 hours to 47.1 hours weekly (Bunting 2002, p.97).

It is apparent that most of the problems or difficulties have resulted from a significant concern to employees and employers. The effects of stress are manifested physiologically and also psychologically. Constant stress may result to weaker immune system, backache sexual health problems, frequent headaches cardiovascular disease, and stiff necks. Stressed condition can also lead to insecurity, poor irritability, coping skills, jumpiness, exhaustion and difficulty in concentration. Moreover, stress may result to smoking, alcohol consumption and binge eating (Halpin n.d, p.17). Despite the fact that an individual is healthy when starting a job, if they get to work in environment that has a dysfunctional working system, they will definitely burn out (Matuska & Christiansen 2009, p.46).

Flexible working

Similarly, flexible working chances or opportunities can be beneficial to everybody; workers, employers and their families. Many of the employers indentify that it is very important to offer flexible working chances to their employees. Flexible working is a term utilized to explain any working pattern tailored to fit one’s requirements. The main types of flexible working include; flexi time (selecting the time one want to work), part time (working less hours than it is supposed to be), annualized hours (one’s time is worked out annually), compressed hours (working the agreed time though in few days) , home working, job sharing and staggered hours (different beginning, break and executing times for workers within he same organization). Flexible working initiative or concept indentifies the significance of balancing individual’s obligations with the demands of the work (Stredwick 2005, p.35).

Though flexible working has been in existence for such a long period, it has not been easy to implement it to every aspect of the business. Flexible working entails offering everybody an opportunity to be the most excellent worker an organization can afford in order to be the best employer. The main factor in considering a person’s flexible working offer is to determine whether the person is ready for the offer. This is because every case is thought in line with the influence of the customers, co-workers, productivity and costs in order to benefit everyone (Canon n.d, p.1).

Employee resourcing issues in the case study

Many of the women especially the mothers feel increased stress when deciding what to choose either their career or families. When a mother takes some time to go and take care of her children, their employers thinks that they are not committed to their work and they can be sacked. Most of the career women are employed in lower positions that earn little money and if they get an opportunity of getting a higher position, it becomes hard for them to balance between their work and family lives (Forbes 2007, p.5).

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Currently, many young children are growing up under the child-care provider or someone else who has been employed to cater for the child. Thus due to lack of good parenting, most of these children waste most of their precious time watching movies and programs without any one to control what they are watching. Studies carried out by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHHD) shows that the more time young children are in the child care, the higher the possibility of their teachers reporting difficulty or problems in behaviour/moral (Whaples 2001, p.456). In the case study about Mrs. Sue Fox, who is a quality assurance manager with two children aged 11 and 16 years, there are some employee resourcing issues that have been raised. The issues are as follows; she works longer hours than expected since the regular time is supposed to be from nine to five. However, since her job is too demanding requiring her to travel around the country she has to work from eight to seven. Being a parent and more-so a mother it is tough and straining for her because she does not have adequate time with her family especially the children who she is forced to pay for the child care.

Moreover, the quality assurance manager pays government taxes and also pays childcare and hence, she is really straining and wishes if she could win the lottery and quit her job in order to have enough time with her children. Though she has discussed the issue with her line manager, the line manager claims that the company has inadequate staff therefore, she cannot quit her career. Therefore, it is clear that the quality assurance manager suffers from the problem of work-life balance between work and family lives. Moreover, chance of sixth grade teachers reporting behavior problem are high since her children spend much of their time in the childcare.

It is very important for organization employers to discover the importance of work-life balance because it leads to creativity and productivity of their workers. Research carried out by Kenexa Research Institute indicated that workers who worked in more favorable organization or working conditions that encouraged them and supported work-life balance were much less willing to quit the organization. There was greater pride in them about their organization and a willingness to praise and recommend the organization as the most excellent place to work and be satisfied. For a satisfactory working condition and work-life balance, employers in the organization or company can provide various initiatives and programs like flexible working preparations such as telecommuting, part time and casual work. More proactive and practical employers can offer strict maximum hours, compulsory leave and provide a working environment that motivates workers not to keep on working after the official hours. The mentioned benefits are supposed to be enjoyed by everyone. However, it is only the highly or most skilled employees who enjoy the benefits as it appears in their contract, though many career fields cannot discourage or dispirit workaholic behavior. The unskilled employees almost depend fully on minimum legal requirements, which in most of the countries especially in the United States, legal requirements are low. On the contrary, European Union brings a difference where it has an assurance in legal work-life balance for instance pertaining non-discrimination of part-time employees and parental leave (Kenexa Research Institute 2007, p. 12).

Advantages and disadvantages

Organizations are subjected to great pressure to offer services and produce goods of suitable price and appropriate quality when their clients need them. Therefore, this pressure implies that better methods need to be adopted in order to make better utilization of the employees and other resources. Advantages and disadvantages of work-life balance and flexible working for APT limited are as follows. Flexible working patterns assist one address such pressures by utilizing fully the available resources and improving services for their customers. In addition, flexible working patterns assist one to minimize absenteeism and raise profitability, workers commitment, loyalty and productivity. Work-life balances like flextime can help in selection, recruitment and retention of employees. It also improves or promotes the provision of equal chances to employees who are not able to work standard hours. However, flextime can increase or raise the administration expenses. These expenses include costs of extra lighting and heating, and record keeping. Providing enough supervision in the bandwidth might also be hard. Flexibility working like job sharing increases or raises the flexibility especially when one is used to meeting peak demand. For example, job sharing involve two individuals sharing the roles for a full-time work hence, the two people can be present when the workload is heavy. In addition, these two individuals can bring into the organization different knowledge, skills, views, ideas and experience on a certain post. Job sharing is useful especially to parents who have young children because it can be easier for mothers to go back to work after their parental or maternal leave. However, if one of the sharers is absent due to sickness or any other reason, the other person will only do half of the work (Acas n.d, p.11-19).

Flexibility working includes compressed working hours or weeks, which does not actually involve minimization of the total working time or hours. Compressed working hours can assist with selection, recruitment and minimize overtime, absenteeism and labor turn over. In addition, compressed working hours can offer an increased free time opportunities and longer weekend. However, compressed working weeks can be difficulty to plan for work and to offer enough cover in the compressed working time. Moreover, where workers are mostly interdependent or inter-reliant, time off ought to be on a strict schedule foundation. Some workers find it hard to adapt faster to their job after having a longer weekend and compressed working time that contributes to increased exhaustion (Acas n.d, p.22-24).

Advantages of home working involve a worker performing their job while at home either permanent or occasionally. It needs a good working association or relationship, which dependent on the trust and motivates workers to control their own work. Improvement in technology has made it easier for one to keep in touch and carry out their responsibilities away from the organization. Most organizations view home-working as an efficient and effective way of increasing employees’ productivity. In addition, home-working save on space in the offices and other resources and facilities (Acas n.d, p.27-28).

In UK an employee can request their employer for flexible working preparations or arrangements if one has been working for a period of 26 weeks continuously before applying and if one has a young child who is aged six years and below. Advantages associated to this include greater productivity, quieter environment and fewer distractions at home when compared to offices. In addition, there is reduction in travelling from home to the organization; one has more time to spend with the family and cheaper living conditions or standards especially in London. This could be requesting for flextime, home-working, part time or job sharing. Though employees have the right to request, the final decision depends on the employer as in the case Mrs. Sue. In addition, home-working was associated with the disadvantage of reduced socialization with colleagues (Martin 2008, p.15-17).

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Recommendation for establishing working policies

Policies that APT limited is to establish should apply to everyone. The company should also ensure they identify the significance of their staff and the capability to balance their domestic and social responsibilities with that of their working life. The policy ought to give a framework, which offer flexibility in their employment activities as they also ensure an effective and efficient daily emergency service to the society or people they serve. Today’s employment legislation offers workers the right to ask for flexibility working especially if they have parental responsibilities for young children aged 6 years and below or 18 years for a handicapped child. APT limited should ensure that the policy is open and accessible to all the staff within the company. In developing the policy they should consider the nature of activities and the size of their company. In addition, the company should establish policy that is in line with their objectives and will contribute to increased employees’ productivity. The company employers or managers in collaboration with the employees should discuss together on applicable solutions and motivate partnership among the individuals asking for flexible working arrangements or preparations and with their line managers. The company should also ensure the procedure of establishing the policy is transparency and does not discriminate anyone.

APT limited must ensure consistency and fairness in the implementation of requests for flexible working preparations or arrangements. They should also ensure that the policy give a chance to all staff to have a right to appeal if their application for flexible working do not go through. The principle or standard of the company’s policy should be in line with the company’s vision, core values and mission.

Conclusion

In summary, employers should identify flexible working preparations or arrangements, which meet the requirements or needs and ambitions of their workers since such will benefit the organization through increased profitability and productivity. Workers who are in a position to balance their work with their aspirations are more encouraged and motivated to work. Improved or motivated staff morale leads to; lower turnover of employees, lower rates of disease, better service provision and increased productivity. Flexible working policies and processes ought to be comprehended by all the employees, equitably applied and clear to all the staff.

Reference list

Acas, n.d. Flexible working and work-life balance. Web.

Anderson, J., 2005. Report Highlights Gap Between European and US Vacation Time. Ergoweb.

Bunting, M., 2002.How the Overwork Culture is Ruling our Lives. Willing Slaves.

Canon, n.d. Flexibility working. Web.

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Forbes, M., 2007. Survey: U.S. Workplace Not Family-Oriented.

Halpin, N,. n.d. Work Life Balance – an Overview. Work Life Balance Centre. The Counseling Service, The University of Dundee.

Hansen, S., 2009.Is Your Life in Balance? Work/Life Balance Quiz. Quint Careers. Web.

Kenexa Research Institute, 2007.Work-life balance, men and women are not created equal.

Martin, S., 2008. Flexible working- the realities of being Elastigirl. Web.

Matuska, K. & Christiansen, C., 2009. Life Balance: Multidisciplinary Theories and Research. Bethesda, MD: AOTA Press/Slack.

Stredwick, J., 2005. Definition. Flexibility working [E-book].

The Work Foundation, 2008. Definition-Work-Life Balance. Web.

Whaples, R., 2001. Hours of Work in U.S. History. EH.Net Encyclopedia.

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