In today’s global and competitive economy, companies are striving to produce products and services of great value. To accomplish this goal of producing great products and services, companies need to have a talented and motivated work force. This goal not only demands hard work and skills, but also full energy and dedication from employees. However, these requirements imposed by companies on their employees to stay competitive have caused employees to lose track of their personal and family life. In other words, the demands imposed by the employers have caused a work/life imbalance in the lives of their employees.
Companies’ main goal seems to satisfy the stock holders and board of directors without caring much about their employees. The result of the oblivion is that employees leave the company without feeling any emotional attachment or obligation to stay with the company. The recessions and economic downturn have caused employers to get ride of employees and overload the existing employees to do the job of employees who were let go in addition to their own job. The overwork has been causing work related injuries, stress, burnout, absenteeism, and turnover. Employees are trying to make deadlines, finishing tasks of multiple employees, and working overtime to finish projects. Employees seem to live to work instead of work to live. The recessions, layoffs, and the events of the September the eleventh have changed people’s view of work and life. People are more concerned to find a balance between their work and life. People want to work not just as a necessity but also as source of satisfaction while keeping a work/life balance.
The new life style has ignited the interest in work/life balance. However, the work/life balance framework used by different organizations is based on the traditional design in which either male and female worked, or only male worked and female stayed home with kids. However, the family structure has changed. Now, we have single parents—single mother or single father—taking care of their kids, unmarried couples living together, families with responsibilities of elders, etc.
What is Work/Life Balance?
People have different requirements and needs at different points in their life. Therefore, different people define work/life balance differently. Work/life balance could mean work/family balance to some people. For a young employee, work/life balance could mean to balance work and quality of life. For an employee with family, work/life balance could mean balance between work responsibilities and family obligations. For an older employee, work/life balance could mean balance between work and health activities.
From the employer’s perspective it could mean creating a company culture that supports employees so that employees can be fully focused on the job.
Benefits of Work/Life Balance Programs
In today’s economy in which employers are looking for ways to cut cost and squeeze out profit from existing resources, employer’s decision to invest in work/life programs hinges on the return-of-investment from these programs. If the ROI shows positive results, employers would invest in the work/life programs. Since the output of the work/life programs is not in terms of financial return, it is hard to justify the ROI benefits to the employers. However, recent efforts and studies have been done to quantify the results from these programs [Lockwood, 2003]. Work/life balance programs make employer attractive for recruitment. Employees are attracted to the employers who provide such programs. Employers can recruit best and the brightest by offering work/life programs in addition to the attractive salary packages. Thus, employers can justify the work/life programs as a point of attraction for the best employees, which in return brings better productivity and competitiveness.
Another area in which work/life program can provide financial benefits is the…