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A literature review is a critical and in depth evaluation of previous research in a particular area. It allows anyone reading the paper to establish why you are pursuing this particular research program. The role of a literature review is to discover answers to a research problem. Machi & Mc Evoy (2008 pp.3) explain an advance literature review as “the foundation for identifying a problem that demands original research, and is the basis for the study of a research problem.” Both authors even explain further that a literature review critically proposes further research which guides the problem into identifying research objective which then leads to findings and conclusion from the whole research. Therefore the literature review covers areas such as the synopsis of work life balance, the benefits, the approach of gender towards work and life, policies implemented and the best practice approach to balancing work and non-work demands.
Work-life balance is defined as “the equilibrium between the amount of time and effort somebody devotes to work and that given to other aspects of life”. http://www.healthatwork.org.uk/pdf.pl?file=haw/files/Work-lifeBalance.pdf. However Kaila (2005 pp.223) relates work life balance as “creating supportive, healthy work environments for employees who are striving to better integrate their work and personal responsibilities”. In the early nineteen century society had categorised working as dominant over life and personal commitments. However, in this new millennium of the twenty century, the changing patterns of individuals’ interest, gender, social roles and particularly the workforce have shifted where individuals are seeking personal values and managing the complexities of life expectations.
The key business drivers for work-life balance in the workplace tends to foster positive outcome such as increase productivity, reduced turnover, raised morale attract and retain employees. Thompson et al. (1999 pp.14) indicated
“if an organization fosters individual work-life integration a central expectation is a positive impact on individual work performance. Professionals experiencing time stress or psychological stress because of their high workload and maybe because of the demands of private life that they cannot fulfill satisfactorily, will be likely to suffer from low concentration and in the end lower productivity.”
Conversely, Hudson (2005) analysis underlined that employees in organizations who don’t have a balance of work and non work matters tends to experience and generate negative outcomes. In fact Hudson (2005) expressed further by implying that employees are more likely to be less productive, less committed and highly decisive of leaving the organisation once they are experiencing increased stress due to work/life conflicting issues and are perceived of having no control over balancing work and non-work demands.
However Kaiser et al. (2010) believed that if one viewed balancing work and life concept as a means of lowering absenteeism, reducing stress and health issues, then one can safely relate that work-life integration can have a positive impact on employees’ performance and productivity. So based on what was stated above, it may appear that the organisations are the ones benefiting from work-life balance. However Kossek & Lambert (2005) implied that employees also benefit from work-life balance outcomes where workers experience lower level of stress, reduce work and non-work conflicts and constrains and have greater autonomy and flexibility in achieving work-life balance. In light of what was stated above by relevant authors, it is prudent to point out that work-life integration can have a positive outcome which benefits the employees and enhance the organisation.
The present magnitude of viewing work life balance is to promote a healthy balance between work and non work commitments which should be the main idea for organisations to consider. However not all managers view work life balance as positive outcomes for the organization. In fact Rodbourne (1996) argued that the work/life culture can be perceived as a factor correlated to less job security and negative career progression due to the utilization of work/life policies. Conversely, Druker (2000) implied that it is corporation social responsibilities to encourage work-life balance within their organization.
However more and more organizations are promoting and even offering work life balance programs in the workplace. Herlihy & Maiden (2005) imply that successful organizations are where they are today because they invest in their employees since they recognised that people are capital assets of the organizations rather than a cost to be administered. Both authors also believed that in order for employees to be effective at work, they themselves need to be able to make unique contributions to the organisation that lies within the contexts of their own personal condition. In relation to Herlihy & Maiden (2005), Powell (2010 pp 199) explained that “individuals success in managing the work-family interface is influenced by the environments that their employers provide and the strategies they adopt.” Powell (2010) continued further stating that employees who have family-supportive managers and work in organization that offers family-friendly initiatives tends to stay with the organization.
The early version of working in society was composed that men were the dominant ones towards work while women were distinguished as housewives, however the structure of that conception has dramatically change where women are just as equal to men in aspect of professionals. Maron (2009) reported on Equal Stress signified that studies have found that women are contributing 44% of the household family income compared in the past and that childcare by men have increased in recent times. Friedman & Greenhaus (2000) pointed out that long ago it was known that men was the breadwinner and women was the stay-at-wives, however changes has shifted in the composition of the workplace tremendously. Friedman & Greenhaus (2000) noted that women make up half the workforce and is increasing in higher levels whereas there is fewer pressure on men categorized has the sole breadwinner.
Korabik et al., (2008 pp.223) stated that the “gender role ideology” conceptualized the tradition that women should give priority to family responsibilities and men to work responsibilities.” However Korabik et al. (2008) advocated the fact that the gender role ideology emphasizes a more stereotype role where it often produce a negative impact on both mothers and women and have developed a one-sided judgmental analysis. Instead the detriment effect of this should impact on men also so that women should not be expected to conform to the stereotype gender role.
Despite the many variations of work and life roles for women, Cleveland et al. (2000) stated that the underlying assumption focuses that the model life-role for women was homemaker and that working women careers and work commitments would be interrupted by pregnancy and childcare. Cleveland et al. (2000) imply that yes women do stop working briefly due to pregnancy however majority of them do return to work after that short interruption. Reeves (2010) emphasizing that whether women are taking care of children, cleaning, cooking and dealing with errands, women of today has been and are working harder than before to meet the demands of work at home and on the job.
Reece & Brandt (2006) pointed out that most working men, just as women, need to balance work and personal life and now have choices which relate to marriage and family life concerns. According to Strober (2010) reported on US Banker News proclaimed that 40% of men wants to be employed by organizations that allows them to employ there managerial skills and at the same time still have time to be successful fathers and husbands.
In many organizations there are a range of policy choices that have been put in place to accommodate employees in the field of work life issues. Polices implemented in organisations are intended to assist employees, especially caregivers and females, to manage work and personal conflicts. Supporters of policies argue that the policies in HR practices help people achieve balance of work and life issues. Sparrow & Cooper (2003 pp.220) applied the situational theory framework quoting “work-life balance policies are introduces where the organizations sees a direct link between them and a solution to problems of absenteeism, and staff turnover”. He indicated that employers are implementing policies as part of a strategy in attempt to illustrate caring responsibilities for coping parents.
However, according to Hudson (2005 pp.14), “the mere availability of extensive and generous work/life policies does not necessary result in widespread utilisation by employees or subsequently improvements in work/life balance reductions in work/life conflicts.” He explains that the complex nature of work-life balance policies is not being utilized because employees are afraid to use the programs as a result of fear of negative consequences. Coussey (2000) mirrored Hudson (2005) statement by implying that employers may believe that it is insignificant benefits of having these polices and that employees may be unable to afford to make use of these policies because of concerns that it may affect their career progression.
However, according to Torun (2007 pp.5) “the potential benefits of work-life programmes, can lead to real qualitative and quantitative benefits for the employer in terms of productivity gains, lower turnover rate, a stronger team spirit and loyalty to employer.” His analysis of work life balance is associated with employees’ performance which provides evidences that a well structure programme can assist with time management benefits for both the employees and the employers in terms to increase productivity and at the same time personal life satisfaction. Conversely, to compliment to Torun (2007) analysis, Crouter & Booth (2009) implied that organisation that has a supportive work-family culture is associated to positive outcomes that organisations benefit from such as increase commitment, higher job satisfaction, lower absenteeism, decreased work family conflict, decreased psychological distress, fewer somatic complaints and decreased role strain.
Edwards, Scott & Raju (2003) said that work life program have been created to assist with the managing of working individuals’ responsibilities of both work and personal matters. Galinsky & Johnson (1998) argued that these very said policies are suppose to be seen as essential way of attracting and retaining best talent for organisations. Burke & Cooper (2006 pp.149) have similar opinion to Galinsky & Johnson (1998) statement by quoting that “the provision of work-life benefits more clearly distinguishes an employer from its competitors and might have substantial effects on an organisation’s image as “good place to work”. Conversely to state, in this particular area all authors that have given their analysis about policies and work-life balance are simply emphasizing that organisations that implement work -life policies tend to attract committed employees to work for them.
The transition of work-life balance challenges the cognition that the demographic workforce has changed drastically in recent years. The fact of the matter is that the workforce includes dual-earner partners who are married and have the responsibilities to care for children and presently some are also burden with adult-care responsibility too. Because of these encounter, several legislation policies was introduced in the UK to accommodate the European workforce commitment, just to name few from the set are:
Time off for dependants
The concept of flexible working has been commonly utilized by many organizations to assist employees with balancing work and life. Many employers understand the need for flexible working because of the growing diversity of women in the workplace, ageing population and young adults pursuing an education and wishing to work at the same time. In fact reporter Coughlan (2009) studies have found that every two person in an organisation there are now more than one person in education.
According to Peper et al. (2005) employees need flexibility in the workplace that would assist them to balance the demands of work and family. Peper et al., (2005) implied further that employees no longer anticipate their jobs as long life, but do except to build self-opportunities from working. Specifically the ability to keep this in mind is very essential for managers. Robertson (2007) critically send a very important message stating that organizations that offer flexible working arrangements to employees offers employees to promote good balance between work and home life will evolve to healthy employees and healthy employees are good for business. To coincide with Robertson (2007), Konrad (2006) argued that studies have found that employees who have access to work-life flexibility demonstrate stronger organizational commitments and decreases employees intention to leave the organisation.
The complexity of a best practice approach would be appealed by employees once offered by organisations. By exhibiting this context it would assist in develop strategic responses and positive concepts for employees and employers. Burke & Cooper (2008 pp.229) “best practices in the workplace are generally understood as a set of practices or actions which results in optimum outcomes, ideally benefiting both employees and the employing organisation.” Burke & Cooper (2008) further explains that the imperative of work practices increases the morale of meeting the dual agenda of employees’ well-being and workplace effectiveness.
To mirrored Burke & Cooper (2008), according to Taylor (2002) he indicated that organizational practices often assists companies to achieve competitive advantage in the marketplace. They argued that these practices usually enhance business performance in organizations that implement practices. However, another theorist Cooper (2005) disagreed with the statement above, she indicated that what is consider good practice in one organizations may not be appropriate in one another. According to Lewis & Cooper (2005 pp.5) “good practice in a specific context may be inadequate tomorrow, which is why an understanding of the process is more useful than just practices for sustaining long-term positive outcomes.”
The nature of best practice approach predominantly utilized in organisations is initially defined to support employees work-life responsibilities and commitments. Brown (2005) found that the utilization of best practice approach of work life integration does not only benefit employees, but also organisations and employers with an open mind to this approach somehow succeed in attracting valued employees and maintain a motivated staff whereby delivering positive outcome. In the interim to promote work life balance organisations should adopt best practice approach that would encourage flexibility and positive results in both employees and employers.
So perhaps incorporating family-friendly policies and practices in the workplace could make a difference for employees with a lot of responsibilities, commitments and work life situations. However Hein (2005) argued that family-friendly policies and practices can assist employees with the complexity of work life issues. Hein (2005) explain further that even though policies and practices exist, however employees tend to be hesitant to proceed to use them because of career concerns or the fact that line managers discourage them from using it. All the authors here are simply emphasizing that employers should create a family-friendly organisational culture approach where employees and senior managers must be in favour of such practices and should be seen using the same practices.
Reviewing the literature studied indicated by various authors, foster the linked with job satisfaction and commitment to work life balance. The concept of this seems that the authors all have a one-sided view to work life balance and the effects to employees’ performances, commitments and at the same time organization effectiveness. The evidence illustrates supports that the propensity for negative outcome of performance to arise is expected to hinder productivity, especially when there are conflicts between managing time for non-work and work related issues. To present a link with the literature review, an evaluation of the methods of research carried out to conclude to findings of employees would be employed in the next chapter.
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