Work-Life Balance : a Comparative Study of South-East Asian Countries

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TITLE : Work-life balance : A comparative study of South-East Asian Countries Work-life balance is a concept that has demanded attention for several years. It is highly relevant as people attempt to divide time to the myriad demands of both work and life. The multiplicity of demands that individuals have can increase this challenge as people strive to incorporate many more activities into lives. Previous empirical research has examined work-life balance in depth.

The research includes a focus on
workplace policies;
attitudes of men and women at work and at home; and
social policies designed to address these issues.

The paper provides an overview of the latest research findings, policies and instruments in three countries, each of which represent a different “experience” of the evolving gender role process. The research compares and synthesizes the findings, leading to a current analysis of people’s dilemmas and coping strategies in three different countries of South-East Asia.

The paper aims to help understand better how we can more equitably help employees to get the work and family balance right and how together with employers we can help to make family-friendly policies work in India.

Key-words : work, life, balance, family, time, conflict, stress.

Work/life balance, in its broadest sense, is defined as a satisfactory level of involvement or ‘fit’ between the multiple roles in a person’s life. Although definitions and explanations vary, work/life balance is generally associated with equilibrium, or maintaining an overall sense of harmony in life. The study of work/life balance involves the examination of people’s ability to manage simultaneously the multi-faceted demands of life. Work–Life balance is at the core of issues central to human resource development (HRD). Grzywacz and Carlson (2008) provide evidence to the effect that, implicitly or explicitly, work–family balance is at the core of HRD’s major functions and that it may be a powerful leverage point for promoting individual and organizational efficiency and effectiveness. The current work scenario is marked by the fast pace of change, intense pressure, constant deadlines, changing demographics, increased use of technology co-existing virtual workplace and globalization. Although work/life balance has traditionally been assumed to involve the devotion of equal amounts of time to paid work and non-work roles, more recently the concept has been recognized as more complex and has been developed to incorporate additional components. A recent study explored and measured three aspects of work/life balance: 1 . Time balance - amount of time given to work and non-work roles. 2. Involvement balance – the level of psychological involvement in, or commitment to, work and non-work roles. 3 . Satisfaction balance - the level of satisfaction with work and non-work roles. This model of work/life balance, with time, involvement and satisfaction components, enables a broader and more inclusive picture to emerge. There has been a lot of debate around “work family conflict” in the 1980’s and 1990’s(Lewis, Gambles & Rapaport 2007). A shift from “work family” and “family friendly” policies with their indirect focus on women, especially mothers, to “work life”, the precursor of the more recent WLB discourse began in the 1990s (Lewis et al 2007). Nevertheless, much of the research in this domain still focuses on work and family. Other terms that are used to refer to this domain include work-family balance, work-family conflict, work-family integration, and family friendly policies. All of these terms make the concept restrictive by their focus on only women with families. Focus on single individuals and those without caring responsibilities (of children or elders) though present is extremely limited. Ransome (2007) introduced what he called “total responsibility burden” which includes “recreational labor”. This...
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