Topic and Construct Definition
This Literature Review focuses on the implementation of work -life balance policies and the effects they have on organisations. As defined by Lockwood (2003) work-life balance is “a state of equilibrium in which the demands of both a person’s job and personal life are equal.” This paper will review the consequences work life balance policies have on organisational performance, weighing up the cost and benefits for the organisation when introducing a work life balance policy. It is important to determine if the net impact is positive, and if it is beneficial for organisations to implement work life balance policies. A firm will only implement such policies if it has a positive return on investment. The benefits to firms include; reduced absenteeism and stress, improved recruitment and retention rates, and greater employee satisfaction and productivity (Dex and Scheibl, 1999). The costs include; administration costs, disruption to operations, unlimited demand by employees, and cost of equipment and facilities (Drew & Murtagh, 2005). Theoretical Review
The imbalance between work and personal life is not only having an effect on individuals but on organisational performance. Organizations can implement various work-life balance initiatives which include the following: flexible working hours, job sharing, part-time work, compressed work weeks, parental leave, telecommuting and on-site child care facility (Hartel et al, 2007). An employer’s commitment to work-life initiatives is influenced by the perception of whether or not such initiatives have a positive return on investment. In recent years, employers increasingly realize that the quality of an employee’s personal and family life impacts work quality and that there are concrete business reasons to promote work and family integration (Lockwood, 2003)
The literature reviewed for this paper indicates that the following benefits can result from the implementation of work-life balance policies: • Reduced staff turnover rates and lower recruitment and training costs (Dex and Scheibl, 1999; Evans, 2001; Lazar, 2010; Lockwood, 2003) • Reduced absenteeism (Dex and Scheibl, 1999; Byrne, 2005; Lazar, 2010) • Greater staff loyalty and commitment (Dex and Scheibl, 2001; Lazar, 2010; Lockwood, 2003) • Improved corporate image, which can lead to greater sales and attract and retain greater number of job applicants (Dex and Scheibl, 1999; Lazar, 2010) • Improved productivity (Dex and Scheibl, 1999; Byrne, 2005; Lazar, 2010; Lockwood, 2003) All these aspects are associated, in turn, with costs savings, higher customer satisfaction and implicitly higher levels of organizational performance (Lazar, 2010). For employers it is important because they benefit from having a more motivated, productive and less stressed workforce, that feel valued, which when combined enhances the productivity of the business (Byrne, 2005).
The underlying assumption is that work–life balance can be achieved without threatening the economic success of either party, possibly even promoting it for both. However, this assumption is not self-evident. There may, for example, be other practices that employers regard as important for their own success which may exacerbate the work–life balance problem (White et al, 2003). While companies are conscious of potential benefits for their employees, they regard these as diffuse, difficult to quantify and outweighed by administrative costs and disruption caused to their operations. Employers also tend to raise concerns that the general availability of such policies will lead to unlimited demand. Associated with this is a fear that some employees will take advantage of the policy, regarding flexible working as an entitlement for which no return to the firm is required (Drew and Murtagh, 2005).
The literature indicates that the following costs are associated with implementing work-life balance policies: • Direct costs of policies which...
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