Work life flexibility and the work-life balance Essay Example

14ACCOUNTING

Work life flexibility and the work-life balance

Executive Summary

It is evident that the work environment is constantly changing with time following the changes that are experienced in the business world. These changes then tend to pose various opportunities and challenges both to the employees, HRM, as well as the organizational management in general. One such workplace change is the fact that the flexible work life will replace the work life balance totally in the future. The report has discussed this probable shift from work life balance to a flexible work life. In doing this, the report has discussed the various forms of flexible working arrangements as well as the implications of this change on the employees, HRM, and the managers and leaders of a company. The report has also discussed some recommendations regarding the topic as well. From the report findings, the employees are continuously in need of a work life that is flexible which reduces the pressure that they have in their work, enhances their productivity, levels of job satisfaction, company loyalty, and their health.

Table of Contents

4Introduction

5Forms of Flexible Working Arrangements

5Flextime

5Telecommuting

5Job sharing

5Compressed workweek

6Implications for the Employees

7HRM Implications

9Implications for the Leaders and Managers

11Conclusion

11Recommendations

13References

Introduction

It is evident that there are significant changes that will and are continuing to take place in the current workplaces more so which relates to the employees (Russell, O’Connell and McGinnity, 2009). A good example of such a change is whereby the workers are shifting towards work-life flexibility which will, in turn, replace work-life balance in the future. Work life flexibility refers to a particular working arrangement which seeks to offer the employees some amount of flexibility on when, where, and for how long they will work (Hayman, 2009). Previously, organizations were striving to empower their employees to create a balance between their personal life and work life through implementing some strategies to give them the opportunity to do so. However, this practice is gradually changing where employees are moving from work life balance towards work-life flexibility which gives them more freedom in the workplace (Hayman, 2009).

Flexible work life in the workplace does not only benefit the employees but also the employers, managers, as well as their families. Most of the employers are also increasingly recognizing that there is a significant business sense by providing the employees with flexible working environments (Jang, 2009). Employees also recognize that shift towards flexible work life enables them to participate in their work fully and at the same time oversee their family commitments as well as their general well-being (Jang, 2009). Following this, the report will focus on discussing how work life flexibility will replace the work-life balance. In doing this, the report will discuss the various types of the flexible working arrangements and the implications that it will have on the employees, HR, and the managers and leaders.

Forms of Flexible Working Arrangements

Flextime

Flextime is the working arrangement which offers the employees different options when it comes to structuring their work week or work days (McNall, Masuda and Nicklin, 2009). For example, in some extreme cases, the employees usually personally make a decision when and for how long they will work. However, often, in the flextime working arrangement, the employees are supposed to be working in their places of work in some particular core working hours of the day. They are then given the opportunity to decide their individual start working time and ending time following given parameters (McNall, Masuda and Nicklin, 2009).

Telecommuting

In this flexible working arrangement, employees on a predetermined and regular basis, usually spend almost all or a part of their week working from a site that is away from their company or home (McNall, Masuda and Nicklin, 2009).

Job sharing

In this working arrangement, two employees who are working on a part-time basis typically share a given full-time work. The benefits and salaries are then shared following the proportion that each of the employees has worked (McNall, Masuda and Nicklin, 2009).

Compressed workweek

This is a working arrangement where an employee works for the normal number of working hours but in this case completes these working hours in fewer days than the typical five working days in a week. Employees are increasingly adopting this flexible working arrangement because it usually provides them with some extra days to spend at home (McNall, Masuda and Nicklin, 2009).

Implications for the Employees

As discussed earlier, more and more employees are embracing flexible work life in that in some cases they even become unable to work in an environment that does not offer this type of flexibility. One of the primary reasons why flexible work life will replace the work life balance is because it enhances the job satisfaction and employee loyalty and consequently develops a happy and lively work environment (Almer and Kaplan, 2002). Following this shift, the employees will then be forced to have the ability to exercise some control measures on their schedules of work without jeopardizing their achieving organizational goals. Although employees have the right to move towards a flexible work life, it is important that they still work for the business in such a way that they are still beneficial for the company (Almer and Kaplan, 2002). Thus, it will be necessary for them to have the necessary skills to develop these strategies and programs for their flexible work life to achieve their intended aim.

According to research, flexible work life will replace work life balance because it usually reduces the amount of stress for the employees (Katzenbach, 2001). This is because these employees they will have high levels of work-life fit. Additionally, employees who have a flexible work life are highly likely to be engaged in their work which means that they are less likely to quit their current jobs to look for new ones. However, the employees will need to be taken through capacity building to enhance their skills to be able to balance work and personal life such that no one party results in stress levels (Roehling, Roehling and Moen, 2001). It is important to note that stress may also come from their personal life and not their work life. This means that although an employee may be in a healthy working environment, they may still undergo stress in their personal life and bring it to the workplace (Roehling, Roehling and Moen, 2001). Following this risk, the employees will need to have the necessary skills that will help them learn to create this balance and treat each component independently.

Another implication of shifting towards the flexible work life balance is the need for the employees to find their balance. In doing this, the employees will have to work in a different manner in that they will first need to understand that different individuals have differing goals and needs at various times of their lives (Almer and Kaplan, 2002). This means that the employee will need to know that they have different priorities from their colleagues and therefore their work schedules will not be similar. For example, maybe one employee does not have a family and will be dedicated to being fully committed to their career which means that they will spend more time at work as compared to them. On the flipside, other employees will experience fulfillment when they invest most of their time in the relationships of their family and friends. Therefore, this does not mean that productivity of one will be lower than the other, but it just means that they will need to work differently such that all of them achieve their career goals in the end despite the number of hours one spends at work (Almer and Kaplan, 2002).

HRM Implications

As employees continuously shift from the work life balance towards work-life flexibility, it will also necessitate the HRM to work in a different way to accommodate these changes that their employees are undergoing. One of the implications of this change by the employees to HRM will be the need for them to provide new training both to the managers and leaders of the organization (Sullivan and Mainiero, 2007). This will be done with the aim of assisting the organizational leadership to accept this shift in their workforce as well as the new job arrangements. These frequent training will, in turn, enable the supervisors and managers to be able to overcome several difficulties that may come up regarding underutilization of the flexible work-life options. It will also help the organizational leadership to tackle the difficulties relating to the devaluation of the commitment and contributions of the flextime workers (Sullivan and Mainiero, 2007). In doing this, the HRM will have fulfilled their responsibility of assisting the leadership in changing their attitudes regarding the needs of their employees towards embracing a flexible work life. This is following the realization by the HRM that the shift towards a flexible work life will only be effective if the management of the organization respects the needs of the employees regarding balancing different aspects of their lives (Sullivan and Mainiero, 2007).

Since the flexible work life will replace the work-life balance, the HRM will need to develop new evaluation methods of their individual performance (Sullivan and Mainiero, 2007). In many of the companies, there is a strong assumption which states that when a worker is out of sight, then it means that they are out of control as well which needs to be changed seriously. This can be done by the HRM when they strive to develop new evaluation method of the performance of the employees. Precisely, the HRM will be required to develop a performance-based evaluation which will be targeted to measure the contribution of the employees as well as their commitment through their levels of performance rather than just the ‘face time’ mode of assessment (Sullivan and Mainiero, 2007). Therefore, this means that the HRM will enable the organization, in general, to try loosening their managerial control while at the same time fostering high levels of productivity through the outcome-oriented assessment of their workforce. Additionally, the new assessment procedures will also be necessary when it comes to reflecting the alterations among the various forms contracts which deals not only with the short-term employee evaluation but include their overall paths of their careers (Sullivan and Mainiero, 2007).

It is the role of the HRM to ensure that the employees are offered the necessary protection from the risks concerning their safety and health (Kramar et al. 2014). Some of the health risks may include the stress which is usually as a result of the long working hours or the struggle to balance personal and work life. Therefore, as a way of offering this protection to the employees, the HRM will support the flexible working arrangement which can significantly assist in improving the wellbeing and health of the employees (Kramar et al. 2014). In doing this, they will have fulfilled a part of the HRM obligations. Additionally, it is the role of the HRM to oversee that there is increased employee productivity, reduction of employee absenteeism, as well as enhancing the employee loyalty and engagement. Therefore, since employees will have chosen to shift to the flexible work life, the HRM will need to develop and implement the necessary strategies that support the employees’ bid to shift towards a flexible work life balance (Hayman, 2009).

Additionally, many companies have guidelines and policies regarding flexible working environments, but the problem becomes their take up. Therefore, so that things can move forward regarding its implementation, then the HRM will have to establish an amicable plan for the implementation of flexible working (Sullivan and Mainiero, 2007). The HRM will be mandated to continually amend and review this plan so that they can be in a position to identify what is working and what does not work. This means that HRM has a significant role to play when it comes to implementing a flexible working environment for the employees (Sullivan and Mainiero, 2007).

Implications for the Leaders and Managers

Research which has previously been conducted concerning the work-life balance has depicted the significance of developing a culture that creates a balance between work and personal life (Avolio et al., 2004). The work-life balance will be replaced by the flexible work life because the employees have developed a sense of the impact flexibility on their individual careers and well-being in general. In numerous organizations, it is typical for the part-time employees to be overseen or surpassed when it comes to being offered promotion opportunities or such like opportunities (Avolio et al., 2004). The same happens to the employees who alter their outside commitments and working patterns or those who are just not comfortable working in the long expected hours. This is because they are perceived as being less committed as compared to those who dedicate their entire time working. Following this, for many of the employees, the culture of an organization is significantly embodied in the behaviors and attitudes of the leaders and managers of the company. This, therefore, means that the managers and leaders of an organization will have to work in a different way following the replacement of the work life balance with the flexible work life (Avolio et al., 2004).

The ability of an organization to enable the flexible work life as well as enable this balance will highly depend on the managerial and leadership skills in the creation of a culture of open communication, respect, and trust (Avolio et al., 2004). Since the employees are shifting towards the flexible work life, the managers will have to within the major constraints which have led to the challenges that have been discussed above there. This then means that the leaders and managers will be required to take up more and more responsibilities in creating an enabling work environment and organizational culture which will enable the employees to achieve this flexible work life that has proven to be beneficial to the employees and the company as well (Avolio et al., 2004). Thus, in a nutshell, the managers and leaders of an organization will have the responsibility of providing this balance through identifying the challenges that they face when it comes to shifting towards a flexible work life. In doing this, the companies will then be in a position to identify the action areas following the introduction and implementation of the flexible work-life policies with the first step is creating management development as well as a flexible culture change (Avolio et al., 2004).

Conclusion

There are various changes which are continuously taking place in the work environment, and they affect different parties in the organization. Some of the parties impacted by these organizational changes include the employees, the HRM, as well as the organizational management. One of the changes that will take place in the workplace is the fact that the flexible work life will replace the work-life balance. This is shift will be beneficial to both the employees and organization as well. This is because the flexible work life will ensure that the employees are satisfied with their jobs, there will be high retention levels, and high productivity among other benefits as having been discussed in the report.

The various forms of flexible working arrangements include the flextime, telecommuting, job sharing, as well as the compressed workweek. In the implementation of the flexible working arrangements in the workplace, there will be implications for the employees, HRM, as well as the managers and leaders of the organization as having been discussed in the report. Each of them has a significant role to play, and as such, they will be implicated in one way or the other in the shift of the employees towards a flexible workplace.

Recommendations

Maintenance of a structural consistency

This will be the role of both the HRM and the organizational leadership where they can strive to maintain a particular level and sense of consistency. This will, in turn, reduce the levels of anxiety to the employees and therefore will not shun from establishing programs and structures which they will feel that they best help them develop a flexible work life (Jang, 2009).

Foster equality in the workplace

One of the challenges of developing a flexible work life for the employees has been the fact that they are typically perceived as being less productive and competent. This means they usually miss some of the opportunities in their careers like promotion and the like. Therefore, the HRM can strive to develop alternative means of evaluating employee performance to foster this equity among all the employees (Jang, 2009).

References

Almer, E.D and Kaplan, S.E 2002, The effects of flexible work arrangements on stressors, burnout, and behavioral job outcomes in public accounting. Behavioral Research in Accounting, 14(1), pp. 1-34.

Avolio, B.J., Gardner, W.L., Walumbwa, F.O., Luthans, F and May, D.R 2004, Unlocking the mask: A look at the process by which authentic leaders impact follower attitudes and behaviors. The leadership quarterly, 15(6), pp. 801-823.

Hayman, J.R 2009, Flexible work arrangements: exploring the linkages between perceived usability of flexible work schedules and work/life balance. Community, Work & Family, 12(3), pp.327-338.

Jang, S.J 2009, The relationships of flexible work schedules, workplace support, supervisory support, work-life balance, and the well-being of working parents. Journal of Social Service Research, 35(2), pp.93-104.

Katzenbach, J 2001, Peak performance: aligning the hearts and minds of your employees, Harvard Press, New York.

Kramar, et al. 2014, Human Resource Management in Australia 5 th ed., McGraw-Hill, New York.

McNall, L.A., Masuda, A.D. and Nicklin, J.M 2009, Flexible work arrangements, job satisfaction, and turnover intentions: The mediating role of work-to-family enrichment. The Journal of psychology, 144(1), pp.61-81.

Roehling, P.V., Roehling, M.V. and Moen, P 2001, The relationship between work-life policies and practices and employee loyalty: A life course perspective. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 22(2), pp.141-170.

Russell, H., O’Connell, P.J. and McGinnity, F 2009, The impact of flexible working arrangements on work–life conflict and work pressure in Ireland. Gender, Work & Organization, 16(1), pp.73-97.

Sullivan, S.E. and Mainiero, L.A 2007, The changing nature of gender roles, alpha/beta careers and work-life issues: Theory-driven implications for human resource management. Career Development International, 12(3), pp.238-263.