Why has work-life balance become a key issue in HRM?

In the time and age of globalization and with the current technological advances designed to not only enable people to work better but also more efficiently, employees find that more and more time is spent at work and that these technologies which were initially designed to make work easier have actually increased the work that is being demanded from them. The workplace has also changed because of this and more and more organizations have work groups which are not only culturally diverse but also have more women employed (Lamont, 2001).
These major changes have necessitated the implementation of programs that are able to properly address these emerging issues in HRM. Women have only recently become a major part of today’s work force and over the last decade or so there has been a revolution in the workplace resulting in women making up almost half of the workforce. Since most of these women lead double lives as house-wives and as employees, there has been a growing need to implement gender friendly programs for these working women (Design A Life that Works, 2001).
This has led to major changes in the relationship between work and family life and the HRM policies that affect this relationship. Aside from this there is also another reason why work-life balance has become a key issue in HRM. “Work-life balance isn’t only about families and childcare. Nor is it about working less. It’s about working ‘smart’. About being fresh enough to give all you need to both work and home, without jeopardizing one for the other. And it is a necessity for everyone, at whatever stage you are in your life.

” (Department of Trade and Industry (2001) Work-Life Balance: The Essential Guide to Work-Life Balance, p5) It has been recognized by most industries that the implementation of efficient and effective work-life balance programs greatly contributes in the development of key factors that improve job satisfaction. Work-life programs are able to foster and strengthen the feeling of loyalty that members have for the organization, making them feel more valued (Lamont, 2001).
In a recent work-life balance survey, more than nine out of ten employers agree that people will work best when they can strike a healthy balance between work and the rest of their lives (Pell, 2001). These programs are also pivotal in increasing the personal motivation of employees and greatly improving their job satisfaction. When employees feel that the company is not only about making large profit margins but understands the needs of the employees, the employee is more motivated in contributing to the continued success of the company and job satisfaction increases even without a corresponding increase in salary (Pell, 2001).
The intangible benefits that are provided act as a better motivator than just financial incentives, particularly among those who are much older and have families. Other companies and organizations which have implemented work-life balance programs have also noticed that the employees have reduced levels of stress as well as reduced levels of absenteeism. These work-life balance programs have also improved recruitment and retention rates of the companies and organizations as well as created better working relations between management and the employees (Lamont, 2001).
These benefits are the reasons that the issue on work-life balance is a becoming a key issue for HRM today and a must for every company and organization that seek to increase its productivity through cost efficient methods such as by developing its human resources. The non-financial incentive such as allowing for a better work-life balance is able to improve the relationship of the company with the employee as well ensure the productivity and development of the human resources of the company.
References: Design A Life that Works: The Work-Life Balance Guide (2001) Fast Company magazine Gruner + Jahr USA Publishing Work-Life Balance: The Essential Guide to Work-Life Balance (2001) Department of Trade and Industry Lamont, G. and Lamont, R. (2001) Work-Life Balance (Overcoming Common Problems) Sheldon Press Pell, A. and Ashley, F. (2001) Embracing Excellence: Become an Employer of Choice to Attract and Keep the Best Talent Penguin USA.

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