The Importance of Work-Life Balance in a Diverse Workforce
The use of diversity programs has become the rising standard among professional businesses. Through the use of these programs, employers not only abide by legal requirements of local, state, and federal laws, but also help to increase their consumer base, workforce efficiency and effectiveness, and reduce employee turnover. One of the major components of successfully leveraging diversity is through the right work-life balance. This requires the ability of employers to provide measures for both male and female employees to conceive and raise a child without losing their jobs, aid in the future retirement plans of older employees and returning retirees, and provide programs to other employees who do not fit into these groups but also have family obligations. The right work-life balance can determine the success of diversity programs and the business itself, and thus employers need to constantly assess the needs and wants of their employees in order to have a better functioning business. The term work-life balance is a term that almost explicitly explains itself but requires a little more information to understand its full extent. The word balance itself does not simply imply equal amount of time spent working and equal amount of time spent performing other non-work related activities. The term “work-life balance is defined here as an individual's ability to meet both their work and family commitments, as well as other non-work responsibilities and activities” (Louise P. Parkes and H. Langford Peter). A person’s work responsibilities should not impede that person from getting regular sleep or having at least some time to spend with their family. On the other hand, it does not mean that a person should spend too much time relaxing at home and failing to complete work assignments. The actual balance can fluctuate depending on what tasks are due or what family or life obligations have suddenly materialized (Charlotte Burton). This kind of balance was made possible largely because of legislation banning decades and centuries old practices such as unspecified and long work hour weeks, child labor practices, and no leave of any kind. Employee rights and employee benefits have come a long way but only recently has there been any significant government intervention in this regard in the United States. The term work-life balance itself has only been readily publicized “during the past two decades as the number of women with children and the number of people caring for aging relatives have both increased in the workforce” (Jing Wang and Anil Verma). It is especially important for employers to enact such programs because of the increasingly competitive business world, not just for mothers and caretakers, but for all employees. Recent surveys suggest that more and more businesses are expecting longer hours from their employees in order to remain competitive and reduce the impact from economic uncertainty (Joanna Hughes and Nikos Bozionelos). While some have “assumed that advances in technology and flexible work schedules lead to a reduction in hours worked” the reality of the current workforce is that “working time varies by gender, race, [and] occupation… In North America, particularly amongst highly educated individuals and professionals, there has been a rise in hours worked (and overtime) due to increased responsibilities and heavier workloads” (Shahnaz Aziz and Jamie Cunningham). In this regard, work-life balance programs can help employees deal with these responsibilities. The link between work-life balance and business performance is not direct, instead there is a more indirect benefit to an organizational performance associated with work-life balance “through those well-being factors found to be consistently and strongly associated with it” by reducing stress and burnout, and greater life satisfaction (Louise P. Parkes and H. Langford Peter). In terms of...
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