Work life balance initiatives in current economic scenario

Overview of work-life balance discourse and relevancy of work-life balance enterprises in current economic scenario


During the 2nd half of twentieth century, with work demands progressively infringing on household and personal clip at a faster gait, employers acknowledged the demand of work-life balance programmes to ease employees maintain a healthy balance between the conflicting demands of their work and personal life. Availability of work-life balance installations to employees witnessed a phenomenal growing between the late 1880ss of the twentieth century and early old ages of the twenty-first century. This growing has been suddenly interrupted by the current economic downswing. Increasing Numberss of administrations, in the name of cost film editing, have either curtailed work-life balance installations or are contemplating to make the same.

This paper analyses the outgrowth of work-life balance discourse, from the yearss of early communal life till the present twenty-four hours theories, and presents a macro degree theoretical account of work-life balance. Further, a elaborate analysis of proven and awaited benefits of work-life balance is presented to warrant the demand of work-life balance enterprises at organizational degree during the present economic downswing.

Key words

Work-life balance, work-life balance theoretical account, work-life domains, work-life sections, work-life balance benefits.

1. Introduction

Composition of work and household life domains has significantly changed over a period of clip. Today ‘s working male and female face a wide set of day-to-day challenges which many times create instability between their on the job life and personal/family life. Lack of work-life balance therefore influences working person ‘s public presentation at workplace every bit good as in personal life. In the current economic scenario, administrations are difficult pressed for higher productiveness and can confront the recessive challenges better if their employees are more occupied with work and workplace. Administrations, more than of all time, need employees with improved work-life balance. An employee with better work-life balance will lend more meaningfully towards the organizational growing and success.

Following subdivision of the paper presents a elaborate analysis of the altering composing of work and household life domains. In the ulterior subdivision of this paper, a elaborate analysis of different work-life balance theories and benefits of work-life balance enterprises is presented in this paper to warrant farther publicity of work-life balance programmes at organizational degree.

2. Phases of altering composing of work and household life domains

The continuously altering composing of work and household life domains can be divided into distinctively different stages ( Figure 1 ) .

Figure 1: Phases of altering composing of work and household life domains

Phase one

Early old ages of communal life.

Entire household engaged in work for subsistence.

Phase two

Pre industrialization


Partial segregation of workplace and household life.

Phase three

Industrial revolution in mid 1800s.

Strengthening of segregation of workplace and household life. Work force started to rule work force.

Phase four

Between tardily 18th and early nineteenth century.

Separation of work and household strengthened due to division of labor.

Phase five

Between early 19th century and 1950.

Human strength dependant engineering abetted male domination at workplace.

Phase six

Between 1950s and early 1980s.

Gender division reversed due to engineering. Introduction of work-life balance installations.

Phase seven

Between 1980s and 2008.

More adult females and female parents in planetary work force. Significant growing in work-life balance installations.

Phase eight

Current recession – 2008 onwards

Addition in work-family related challenges and decrease in work-life balance installations.


Time period

Changes in work and household life domains

In the early old ages of communal life ( phase one ) normally the full household engaged in work for subsistence at place or near place ( Carlson et al. 2005 ) . In pre industrialization period ( phase two ) turning size of trade and trade concern partly segregated the workplace and household life. During the industrial revolution in mid 1800s ( phase three ) usage of machines for mass production meant puting up of mills off from place. Men dominated the work force in mills and family work was taken attention of chiefly by adult females who stayed back at place ( Voydanoff 2006 ) . During late 18th and early nineteenth century ( phase four ) due to division of labor and between early nineteenth century and 1950s ( phase five ) due to technological factors ( which depended on human strength, giving work forces advantage over adult females at the workplace ) separation of work and household strengthened and work forces chiefly took the function of bread earners and adult females took chiefly the charge of place and household work ( Snooks 1996 ) .

In early portion of 2nd half of the twentieth century ( phase six ) gender division was reversed due to the technological promotions and computerisation which reduced the dependance on human strength in mills therefore easing greater engagement of adult females in work force ( Snooks 1996 ) . As the figure of adult females increased in the planetary work force, 1980s and 1990s ( phase seven ) witnessed increasing figure of companies offering work-life plans chiefly to back up working female parents ( Lockwood 2003 ) . Later such plans evolved into less gender-specific plans and recognized other committednesss of life ( Lockwood 2003 ) by the early old ages of twenty-first century.

From 1950 ‘s up to early old ages of twenty-first century ( phase six and phase seven ) a broad array of socio economic factors has been responsible which significantly influenced the work and personal life of employees. Three of import classs of such factors are ( Figure 2 ) – household and personal life, work and other factors ( Naithani and Jha 2009 ) .

Figure 2: Factors act uponing work and household life spheres – From 1950 ‘s up to early old ages of 21st century

Family and personal life related factors

a-? Increasing engagement of adult females in work force

a-? Increasing engagement of kid bearing adult females in work force

a-? Increasing engagement of double calling twosomes in work force

a-? Increase in single-parent/ individual individual families

a-? Increase in child-care/ senior attention load on employees

a-? Health and good being considerations

Work related factors

a-? Long hr civilization and unpaid overtime

a-? Time Squeeze

a-? Demand for shorter working hours

a-? Increase in parttime workers

a-? Work intensification and emphasis

a-? Changing work clip

Other factors

a-? Ageing Population

a-? Rise of service sector industries

a-? Technological complexness of work

a-? Skill Shortages

a-? Loss of societal support web

a-? Globalisation and demographic displacement

of work force

Beginning: Naithani and Jha ( 2009 )

With increasing engagement of adult females in work force, the engagement of working female parents, double earner twosomes and individual parents besides increased. This tendency instantly enhanced the kid and senior attention load on a big figure of employees and in add-on created new challenges in equilibrating work and household life.

At organisational degree, 1950s onwards, important sweetening in long hr civilization, unpaid overtime, altering work clip and work intensification started to be witnessed. This resulted into enhanced work related emphasis, clip squeezing for place and household and employee demand for shorter working hours. Conflict between work and personal life progressed further due to 24×7 work civilization going popular due to lift of service sector industry, technological complexnesss at workplace, ageing population and loss of societal support web. Influence of socio economic factors on household, personal life, work and other factors was noticed by research workers and organisations every bit early as 1930s, but it was after the sixtiess that focused research on work and personal life and their influence on each other under changed conditions started to come up.

3. Introduction and growing of work-life balance research

History of work/life plans can be traced back to 1930s, when debut of decreased on the job hours with four displacements of six-hours alternatively of the usual three day-to-day eight hours displacements in W.K. Kellog Company resulted into enhanced employee morale and productiveness ( Lockwood 2003 ) . In the 1960s, research on working female parents and double earner households came into light as adult females ‘s engagement grew significantly in the work force ( Lewis et al. 2007 ) . Rappaport and Rappaport in 1960 ‘s researched on how in the agricultural societies work and household were closer to each other and how industrial revolution in the 18th and the nineteenth century created a divide between work and personal life and farther how electricity and machines made mass production possible which basically meant creative activity of mills off from place. Their research studied cleavage of work and household life due to motion of work off from home/family to the mills and metropoliss ( Rappaport and Bailyn 1996 ) . Rappaport and Rappaport covered a limited range of work and life balance. Their research was chiefly concerned with work and its impact on household and did non associate work and its impact on other facets of life. Still, theirs was a important beginning and more research followed shortly.

Before the 1970s, ‘work ‘ and ‘family ‘ were chiefly treated as separate sections ( Blunsdon et al. 2006 ) . Mutuality of ‘work ‘ and ‘family ‘ was highlighted by Kanter ( 1977 ) who suggested giving importance to facets of work impacting household life and facets of household life impacting work, as work and life both were interdependent on each other. During the same clip Pleck ( 1977 ) analyzed work-family function system as a aggregation of male work function, female work function, male household function and female household function. Pleck ( 1977 ) further stated that adult females experience spill-over from household function into work function and work forces see spill-over from work function into household function. The ‘spill-over theory ‘ was further strengthened by Staines ( 1980 ) who suggested that spill-over from one section of life into another can hold both positive and negative effects. Staines ( 1980 ) supplemented the treatment on work-life facets through ‘compensation theory ‘ , harmonizing to which a individual attempts to counterbalance shortage in one facet of life through extra investing in other facet of life.

As cited by Pickering ( 2006 ) , Greenhaus & A ; Beutell ( 1985 ) gave a new way of work-family research by showing the work-family struggle theory harmonizing to which an person has to execute different functions and household and work compete in demanding clip, attending and committedness to execute these functions. Role behavior in household and work therefore struggle with each other, and make work-family struggle. Harmonizing to Greenhaus and Beutell ( 1985 ) , as cited by Skinner and Pocock ( 2008 ) , primary causes of clip based struggle are clip force per unit area and deficiency of clip for household and leisure, primary causes for strain based struggle are anxiousness, weariness, tenseness and behavior based struggle is caused by mismatch of behavioral outlooks between work and place life.

Initial work-life policies and programmes in the 1980s were chiefly focused on adult females with kids ( Lockwood 2003 ) . 1990s witnessed the displacement from working female parent specific narrow focal point to a broader focal point on married and single work forces and adult females with or without kids. Focus on ‘work-family ‘ and ‘family-friendly policies ‘ broadened to a larger ‘work-life balance ‘ discourse ( Lewis et al. 2007 ) .

The theory of boundary work ( Nippert-Eng 1996a ; 1996b as cited by Warhurst et Al. 2008 and Nippert-Eng 1996a ; 1996b as cited by Blunsdon et Al. 2006 ) presented a broader significance of work-life balance through categorization of workers as ‘segmentors ‘ and ‘integrators ‘ who manage work-life along a continuum of segregation and integrating. Work-life is integrated when there is no differentiation and mental boundary between work and place and cleavage occurs when there is a clear cut mental boundary separating work and place. In between cleavage and integrating lies a scope. An person can be at either terminals of cleavage or integrating or can be at any point of the scope, actively engaged in mentally specifying the boundaries.

A simpler apprehension of work-life balance can be presented with the aid of balanced wheel of life in which is normally cited in work-life balance literature. Byrne ( 2005 ) presented the age old construct of balanced wheel of life and related work-life balance with it. Byrne ( 2005 ) suggested eight of import subdivisions of life as the eight radiuss in a wheel. The subdivisions are work, fundss, religious, avocations, ego, societal, household and wellness. Harmonizing to Byrne, all these eight subdivisions of life are of import for every human being and each person attempts to accomplish a balance amongst these different subdivisions. Byrne therefore treats all the eight subdivisions with equal weight and importance, which might non be true with every person. Over looking this restriction of the theoretical account, the balanced wheel of life can be termed as the easiest manner to understand the construct of work-life balance as this theoretical account look into different sections of life.

4. Work-life Balance Theory: A macro degree theoretical account

To get to a sum-up of work-life balance discourse we can mention to Guest ( 2002 ) , who presented a digest of five single theories to explicate the relationship between work and life outside work. These are cleavage ; spill-over ; compensation ; instrumental and conflict theoretical account. For the macro degree theoretical account presented in this paper ( Figure 3 ) , theories of work-life balance have non been looked at separate entities, but instead as unifying entities to show a broader significance of the work-life balance discourse. A closer expression at the popular theories of work-life balance which have been discussed above, will exhibit a continuously spread outing sphere of the work-life discourse. If the above theories are consecutive arranged and logically structured together, we can so deduce the undermentioned macro degree theoretical account of work-life balance ( Figure 3 ) .

Figure 3: Work-life Balance – Macro degree theoretical account

Low High


Low High

High Low

High Low


Life to Work and Work to Life Negative Spill over

Life to Work and Work to Life Positive Spill over

Life Sections

– Family

– Fundss

– Sociable

– Self

– Spiritual

– Health

– Avocations

Male and Female Life Roles

Work Section

Male and Female Work Roles

Low High


High Low

Every person ‘s life has multiple sections such as household, fundss, societal, self, religious, wellness and avocations. In each of these life sections, an single demands to give certain period of clip, energy and attempt while major portion of day-to-day clip, energy and attempt is consumed in the work section. Males and females play professional functions at work topographic point and the difference in functions at workplace is chiefly non gender dependant but is instead decided by the making, experience and appellation of the employee. In contrast, male and female functions have traditionally and socially been gender defined in life sections. Though male engagement in family work, particularly in double worker twosomes is increasing, yet a important portion of the family work ( including child care ) is expected to be the sphere of the female. This gender biased function distinction at the household degree creates different work-life balance force per unit areas for males and females. Functions in other sections of life such as fundss, societal, self, religious, wellness and avocations are chiefly may non be gender defined. Same has been presented in the two major sections of life and work in the proposed theoretical account.

Though life and work are two different sections, yet they are non to the full segmented and at times they tend to acquire integrated. For adult females, it is non really easy to to the full section their work and child care duties as they are socially and traditionally expected to prosecute in both. Lapp might be the instance with a individual male parent who has no child care installation and is every bit engaged in work and household duties. In a individual earner household, the male caput earner of the household, who has work duties, besides needs to take attention of short term and long term nest eggs and investings of the household on the footing of his short term and long term net incomes. Not merely are the work and life segmented at times and integrated at times, they are besides a beginning of compensation for each other, depending on a state of affairs. Dissatisfaction in one facet may act upon a individual to prosecute in an attempt for higher satisfaction from other section of life. This creates mutuality of work and life.

Further, mutuality of work and life sections is influenced by the spill over ( positive or negative ) from one section to the other. For illustration an employee ( male or female ) who is working long hours and is under physical and mental emphasis due to high strength work will hold his/her personal life section of wellness affected by the work section. This will be a authoritative illustration of negative spill over from work to life. On the other manus a promotion/ increase of an employee may positively act upon his ego and societal section.

Looking at a macro degree, high cleavage between work and household should convey in better work-life balance as an employee who can split his clip, energy and attempt handiness expeditiously and efficaciously between the two sections will confront lower work-life struggles. But in todays over competitory universe, which continuously demands more clip for work and calling, high degrees of cleavage of work and household are non easy. In some instances persons will be able to maintain life segmented from work ( life non infringing on work clip, energy and attempt ) or maintain work segmented form life ( work non infringing on life clip, energy and attempt ) . High integrating on the other manus brings out opposite consequences and might make high degrees of work-life struggles and instability. With increasing demands of clip from work, integrating of high degrees between work and life is going a necessity.

While and single is equilibrating between the continuum of sectioning and incorporating between work and life, he/she will besides try to counterbalance loss in one section from consequences in another. An person who has higher grade of work-life cleavage will hold lesser chances to counterbalance for loss in one section from additions in other section. Where as a individual who has high integrating of work and life will hold higher chances for compensation. While the procedures of cleavage, integrating and compensation are go oning ( at different grades ) work and life will make their ain person end products, which will be of positive and negative nature. These negative and positive end products will be given to slop over from section to another, particularly when the work and life have higher grade of integrating. Harmonizing to the compiled theoretical account, cleavage, integrating, compensation and spill over of different grades create positive and negative influences in the work-life of an single. Work-life balance therefore is that phase where entire amount of the influences is positive or where the entire amount is non negative.

5. Benefits of work-life balance enterprises

Phenomenal growing of work-life balance research and induction of work-life balance programmes at organizational degree between 1950 ‘s and early old ages of the current century has been due to a broad gamut of benefits derived by employers and employees. These benefits are non merely societal and psychological but besides economic, and that is the primary ground why planetary and proactive administrations have leveraged work-life balance programmes to heighten productiveness and profitableness, besides deriving higher employee battle. McDonald & A ; Bradley ( 2005 ) identified a set of employer and employee benefits of work-life balance enterprises. Availability of broader endowment pool, earlier return of employee to work after maternal leave, reduced absenteeism, positive employer stigmatization, improved employee public presentation, improved employee keeping, reduced employee turnover, better physical and mental wellness of employee and improved occupation satisfaction were the benefits identified by McDonald & A ; Bradley ( 2005 ) .

Further reappraisal of literature on work-life balance benefits ( Hudson 2006 ; MWLBI 2006 ; WLBP 2006 ; Byrne 2005 ; Hewlett et Al. 2005 ; Hudson 2005 ) brought frontward a broad array of work-life balance benefits which can be categorised into qualitative and quantitative benefits to employers and employees ( Figure 4 ) .

Figure 4: Benefits of Work-life balance enterprises

Qualitative benefits for employers

Qualitative benefits for employees

– Retaining valued employees

– Motivated work force

– Attracting a wider scope of campaigners

– Repute of employer of pick

– Reduced enlisting costs

– Maximized available labor

– Improved quality of appliers

– Happier life at work and at place

– Better work topographic point dealingss

– Improved self-esteem and concentration

– More clip to concentrate on life outside work

– Greater control of working life

– Better direction of place and work.

– Supportive workplace that values staff.

Quantitative benefits

– Cost of absenteeism – Cost of wellness insurance premiums

– Cost of lessened productiveness – Cost of direct medical claims

– Cost of staff turnover and recruitment – Cost of client satisfaction

Work-life balance enterprises at organizational degree straight benefit employers every bit good as employees. This in bend enhances the occupation satisfaction, work battle and work productiveness of employees. These direct benefits to employees in bend benefit the complete public presentation of the employee administration.

Assorted pecuniary losingss, direct and indirect, have been cited by writers in work-life balance literature, which can be prevented if more effectual work-life balance enterprises are undertaken. In the twelvemonth 1989, in the U.S. , occupation emphasis was estimated to be industry $ 150 billion per twelvemonth in absenteeism, wellness insurance premiums, diminished productiveness, compensation claims, and direct medical costs ( Golden and Jorgensen, 2002 ) . Appraisal of the costs of absenteeism due to high work-life struggle in Canada ranges from $ 3 to $ 5 billion a twelvemonth in direct costs and $ 4.5 to $ 10 billion when direct and indirect costs are included ( Duxbury and Higgins 2003 ) .

Department of Trade and Industry, U.K. , calculated the cost of employee absence at ?4 billion per twelvemonth ( DTI, 2000 ) . Family friendly policies can cut down or forestall such employee absence and thereby cut down the pecuniary losingss. It is apparent from above computations that salvaging of these costs will be a direct benefit to the employee organisations, if a better work-life balance is at the custodies of the work force. Further, assorted concern organisations have besides been ciphering the single benefits of work-life balance in pecuniary footings. A relevant instance survey is of British Telecom as cited by Yeandle et Al. ( 2006 ) . In twelvemonth 2006 out of entire work force of 102,000 of British Telecom, 75,000 workers were working flexibly. The mean addition in productiveness for these 75,000 workers was about 21 % , which in pecuniary footings stood at ? five-six million. In add-on British Telecom ‘s one-year staff turnover came down to below four per centum, where as the sector norm was every bit high as 17 per centum. Sickness absence among place workers in British Telecom averaged below 3 yearss per individual per annum. The positive impact of work-life balance enterprises at British Telecom reflected in its client satisfaction as good. 20 million clients rated quality of service at five per centum higher than earlier and these clients had seven per centum higher satisfaction as good.

While many factors determine the success and profitableness of a company, those organisations that have an effectual and efficient work-life balance programme exhibit a better fiscal public presentation. A study conducted by Work-USA ( 2000 ) demonstrated the strong relationship between employee committedness and return to stockholders, happening that companies with extremely committed employees had a 112 % return to stockholders over three old ages, compared with a 76 % return for companies with low employee committedness, and 90 % for companies with mean committedness. Watson presented a elaborate list of relationship between companies which promote employee work-life balance and their fiscal public presentation ( Watson 2002 as cited by Reed and Clark 2004 ) . Harmonizing to Watson, companies that support flexible work agreements such as flextime, teleworking, and occupation sharing have a higher market value and the growing in their market value is besides higher. Companies listed on Fortune ‘s “ 100 Best Companies to Work For ” systematically outperform the S & A ; P 500, receive two times the figure of occupation applications, and have half the turnover rate than their rivals. “ The 100 Best ” list companies have had a 10.6 per centum one-year return since 1998 compared to the 5.7 per centum return for the S & A ; P 500 over the same period ( Watson 2002 as cited by Reed and Clark 2004 ) .

6. Current recession and work-life balance enterprises at organisational degree

It is apparent that companies which introduce work-life balance enterprises, in the long tally get direct quantitative and qualitative benefits for all its stakeholders. Though this fact further necessitates debut of such tools in more figure of organisations, yet in recent old ages, due to recessive tendencies, many organisations are alternatively shying off from work-life balance enterprises. Many organisations are more concerned about short term endurance and they find restricting work-life balance enterprises as an easy path to command disbursals.

Though research of over last six decennaries has clip and once more attested the relevancy of work-life balance and established its direct and indirect economic benefits, yet in today ‘s recessive economic scenario, predomination of short-sighted attack by an increasing figure of administrations globally has interrupted the being and growing of work-life balance enterprises.

7. Decision

Work-life balance of an employee is as of import for the using administration as it is for single employee. Work-life balance of an single employee when viewed jointly for the entire work force of an administration consequences into a prodigious impact on the qualitative and quantitative organizational public presentation. Employees who achieve improved work-life balance with the aid of the policies implemented by the using administration tend to be more productive as their work battle enhances. In the current economic lag an administration which neglects issues related to employee work-life balance will stop up will take down employee productiveness and in bend will happen it more hard to get the better of the recessive challenges.

Administrations which are pretermiting work-life balance due to recessive force per unit areas need to grok the long term relevancy of employee battle and productiveness and demand to go on advancing work-life balance enterprises. Or else, recessive force per unit areas coupled with lower employee battle and lower employee productiveness will make new challenges for medium and long term organizational endurance.

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