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ADS Networks, an IT company seeks to determine how sensitive the workplace climate is to employee work-life balance.
People have to contend with different roles in life. There is the requirement for one to perform at a high level in the workplace and balance this with the responsibility of taking care of other issues in life. Work-life conflict is possible when the demands of one role conflicts with another.
In order to measure the sensitivity to work-life issues this paper uses a survey sourced from an Internet website which is an authority on work-life issues. The survey comprising twenty questions was distributed amongst employees in the various business units in a random manner. The results of the survey were analyzed and conclusions were drawn from the survey in an attempt to answer the following questions
· To what extent are work-life balance issues having an adverse impact on the employees of ASD Networks?
· The results of the survey indicate there is a degree of sensitivity to work-life but there is great scope for improvement. There appears to be a negative effect on employee morale and loyalty.
· How does attainment of a work-life balance affect the workplace and personal life?
· A workplace that is sensitive to work-life balance has numerous positive benefits for employer and employee.
· What issues influence the achievement of work-life balance?
· The factors that most influence the achievement of work-life balance are support of management in the organization, flexibility of management, two-way communication, resources, teamwork and a positive attitude.
· The leadership style of the company’s managers has a great impact on the attainment of work-life sensitivity.
· What can be done to better manage work and personal life at ASD networks?
· Recommendations are made on what actions employers and employees can take to reduce work-life conflict situations.
The ability to achieve the right work-life balance sensitivity is a strategic victory for any company. There exists a challenge to implement and manage winning work/life formulas at ASD Networks. Failure to address the issues could have a detrimental effect on the performance of the company in the long term.
2. Literature Review
4. Research Results
5. Analysis of research results
6. Conclusion and Recommendations
It has become necessary for organizations to attract and retain the services of high performing individuals in the competitive labour market. In most cases these individuals are deeply motivated, identify strongly with the organization and are considered highly loyal to their organizations. Bartlet and Ghoshal (2004) recognize that the company’s scarce resource is knowledgeable people, which require a shift in the whole concept of value management within the corporation.
The valued types of employees exhibit the kinds of behaviours that make businesses successful, they work hard, stay late, go the extra mile to delight the customer, and recommend the company to their friends as a good place to work (Sweetman)
Organizations that seek to increase employee morale, commitment and satisfaction and reduce sources of stress and problems at work will improve their ability to recruit and retain talented and valued employees (Cappelli).
What is work/life balance? It is simply attaining a balance between work and personal life responsibilities. Magid, Codkind (1957) are of the view that a subtle evolution has transformed the workforce and the workplace. The work and personal life dynamic has taken on new and different meanings within contemporary society. We are witnessing radical transformations in values, loyalties, and patterns of work and personal life. Individuals have adopted new and different attitudes toward work and it’s relationship to their personal lives. The new worker is becoming increasingly concerned over quality of life issues, and this includes both work and personal issues. These changes have had, and will continue to have, a significant impact on traditional workplace relationships, and will affect the workforce, the workplace, and more broadly, employer responsibility. It is thus imperative that ASD Networks have human resource strategies for attaining work/life balance.
Mastery over work time pressure is vital for a person to have a high quality of life. Work/life conflict occurs when there is problem balancing the requirements of work and personal life. Organizational issues like job satisfaction, workload, work stress, job security, physical work environment, respect and management can impact work/life balance.
Morgan (cited in Mclimore, Larwood) maintains that a company’s people make the difference, not the organization. It follows that people are a company’s most valuable resource. People change things and, hence, can make a major difference in a company’s performance… Another important aspect of management skill is the ability to motivate people. This motivation cannot be based on fear, or even your position. Rather, it is based on respect. People can do their work for you in many different styles. They can march in step, they can drag their feet, or they can climb the mountain for you. To be most productive, you have to create the atmosphere in which people are going to climb the mountain for you because they want to. It takes hard work to create that atmosphere, but it can be done. (Magid, Codkind) are of the view that a subtle evolution has transformed the workforce and the workplace. The work and personal life dynamic has taken on new and different meanings within contemporary society. We are witnessing radical transformations in values, loyalties, and patterns of work and personal life. Individuals have adopted new and different attitudes toward work and it’s relationship to their personal lives. The new worker is becoming increasingly concerned over quality of life issues, and this includes both work and personal issues. These changes have had, and will continue to have, a significant impact on traditional workplace relationships, and will affect the workforce, the workplace, and more broadly, employer responsibility. (Bartlet and Ghoshal) recognize that the company’s scarce resource is knowledgeable people, which require a shift in the whole concept of value management within the corporation.
According to Kelly (cited in HBR) organizations must strive for effective followers who think for themselves and carry out their duties and assignments with energy and assertiveness. Because they are risk takers, self-starters and independent problem solvers, they get consistently high ratings from peers and many superiors. Followership of this kind can be a positive and acceptable choice for parts or all of our lives and a source of pride and fulfillment.
Important requirements for a work/life balance sensitive workplace are support, flexibility, two-way communications, access to resources, teamwork and a positive attitude (Magid, Codkind)
Managerial and organizational supports are key factors in the competence levels employees experience as they struggle with work/personal life concerns. Employees want to know that they can attend to personal needs without calling in sick for the day and feeling guilty about lying to a manager. Employees need to occasionally take an hour or two off during the middle of the day to take an ailing parent to the doctor and make up their work at a later time. Knowing that they will not be penalized provides the kind of support employees need when faced with conflicting work and personal life demands.
Asking managers to be more flexible with employee policies often require a dramatic break with past practices. A change to a more flexible supervisory style causes some managers to feel caught in a double bind. That is, they are held accountable by top management for results, yet they need to consider supporting their employees by being more understanding about personal and family needs.
Frequently, managers are concerned about fairness. For example, if they allow an employee to leave work early to attend a conference at a child’s school, will they be accused by other employees of being unfair? Or will employees without children resent a coworker who receives an “extra”?
Open, ongoing dialogue is crucial. Listening without diagnosing, and not judging and employee’s personal life issue is always appreciated.
Access to people, training, information and materials can help with decision making and problem solving about both work and personal life needs.
Working together to develop mutually acceptable strategies for managing issues, monitoring progress, being open to backup plans if one fails and empowering employees to make appropriate decisions are all excellent ways to help employees to experience competence on and of the job.
Acknowledge the impact of personal life responsibilities on employees. Demonstrate a “can do” attitude encouraging the employee and modeling positive behaviours. Negative responses only serve to increase employee stress, anxiety and frustration over personal life issues.
Life for many people (Torrington, Weightman) is surprisingly rigid nine till five for five days a week with a few individual days’ holiday at religious festivals and three or four weeks’ annual holiday, which must be taken within a twelve month period…Patterns of employment are changing, with many variations on that basic theme emerging towards the close of the century…Changing patterns enable people to break out of that rigidity and find a more personalized mode.
Kotter (cited in HBR ) believed there is a real challenge to combine strong leadership and strong management and use each to balance the other. Leadership is concerned with developing a vision of the future along with strategies for producing the changes needed to achieve that vision. Aligning people according Kotter (cited in HBR) means communicating the new direction to those who can create coalitions that understand the vision and are committed to its achievement. Achieving a vision requires motivating and inspiring, keeping people moving in the right direction, despite major obstacles to change, by appealing to basic but often untapped human needs, values and emotions.
Organizations that seek to increase employee morale, commitment and satisfaction and reduce sources of stress and problems at work will improve their ability to recruit and retain talented and valued employees. (Cappelli).
If your company is run “by the book”, if the job description is more important than the man, if organizational charts take precedence over the realities of personal relationships, your organization is in danger of succumbing to an all-too-common form of creeping paralysis (Randall).
Most managers today understand the strategic implications of the information-based, knowledge driven, service-intensive economy. They know what the new game requires speed, flexibility and continuous self-renewal. They even are recognizing that skilled and motivated people are central to the operations of any company that wishes to flourish in the new age. And yet, a decade of organizational delayering, destaffing, restructuring and engineering has produced employees who are now more exhausted than empowered, more cynical than self-renewing. Worse still, in many companies only marginal managerial attention if that is focused on the problems of employee capability and motivation. Somewhere between theory and practice, precious human capital is being misused, wasted or lost (Bartlet and Ghoshal).
Walker Information Global Network and the Hudson Institute conducted a landmark global study on work-force issues. The study confirms the useful clich that people are people wherever they live, and that most people care deeply about the same few things. In the workplace, people everywhere ask, Am I fairly compensated for my work? Am I well suited for my work? Does my employer trust me to do that work?
The researchers segmented the world’s employee population as follows 4% of worldwide employees are Truly Loyal, 8% are Accessible, 1% are Trapped and 7% are High Risk. The Truly Loyal exhibit the kinds of behaviours that make businesses successful, they work hard, stay late, go the extra mile to delight the customer, and recommend the company to their friends as a good place to work. The Accessible feel and act as committed as the Truly Loyal, but for reasons unrelated to Loyalty, may leave within two years (perhaps a spouse is transferring, or childcare needs intervene). Trapped employees want to leave their jobs but for one reason or another feel they cannot. High Risk employees are spending their working hours clicking through monster.com or whatever the local alternative may be. Six out of ten High Risk employees would not recommend their organization as a good place to work. The study emphasized ethics because of its high impact on employee loyalty. Employees who perceive their employers ethical are more likely to be proud to be associated with the company (Sweetman).
Despite several generations of management and organization theories that emphasize the importance of human resources, the idea that workers are the key to achieving all business goals remains a very hard sell (Lowe).
Primary data was referenced in this study. The required data was gathered by means of a questionnaire distributed amongst the employees of ADS networks. The questionnaire seeks to assess the sensitivity of the workplace to work/life balance issues. The questionnaires included a short note detailing the purpose of the research as well as promoting involvement of employees and guaranteeing their anonymity. It was requested that the subjects partake in the survey in a confidential manner.
20 questionnaires were distributed and 7 were returned yielding a response rate of 10 percent.
The questionnaire (as cited in www.workfamily.com) required a negative or positive response to the following questions. A KEYWORD is assigned to each question for referencing purposes in the analysis.
1. My manager/supervisor treats my work-life needs with sensitivity. [SENSITIVITY]
2. It is usually easy for me to manage the demands of both work and home life. [DEMANDS]
3. My career path at this company is limited because of the pressures of home life demands. [PATH]
4. My job at this company keeps me from maintaining the quality of life I want. [QUALITY]
5. My manager/supervisor is supportive when home life issues interfere with work. [SUPPORT]
6. My manager/supervisor focuses on results, rather than the time I am at my desk. [RESULTS]
7. My manager/supervisor has a good understanding of flexible work practices. [FLEXIBLE]
8. If I requested a flexible work arrangement my manager/supervisor would support me. [ARRANGEMENT]
9. My manager/supervisor is often inflexible or insensitive about my personal needs. [INFLEXIBLE]
10. I believe my manager/supervisor treats me with respect. [RESPECT]
11. My manager/supervisor allows me informal flexibility as long as I get the job done. [INFORMAL]
12. My manager/supervisor tends to treat us like children. [CHILDEREN
13. My manager/supervisor seldom gives me praise or recognition for the work I do. [PRAISE]
14. My manager/supervisor seems to care about me as a person. [CARE]
15. I would recommend this company to others. [RECOMMEND]
16. The work I do is not all that important to this company’ success. [IMPORTANCE]
17. If I could find another job with better pay, I would leave this organization. [PAY]
18. If I could find another job where I would be treated with respect, I would take it. [TREATMENT]
19. If I could find another job where I could have more flexibility, I would take it. [ANOTHER]
20. I am totally committed to this company. [COMITTMENT]
Respondents’ scores are calculated in the last column of Results Matrix1 as per the method provided at www.workfamily.com
· For a perfect score, employees should answer “Disagree” for questions ,4,1,1 and Agree for all the rest.
· To score, begin by giving each respondent 0 points. Then deduct one point for every “wrong” answer. Add up the total scores, and divide by the number of respondents (See Response Average in Results Matrix1.
· If your score is 18 to 20 Congratulations! Your organization is leading the nation in the area of flexibility and supportiveness.
· If your score is 14 to 17 Your organization is probably more supportive and flexible than most, with room to grow.
· If your score is 11 to 15 As the race for talent tightens up again, your employees may be open to the next good offer.
Analysis of Research Results
The completed questionnaire data was summarized in an Excel spreadsheet. Spreadsheet formulae were used in accordance with the scoring instructions from www.workfamily.com to score the survey.
There was positive expression towards manager/supervisor awareness [SENSITIVITY] to work/life issues 70% vs. 30%. The figure of 70% indicates there is an understanding by managers to appreciate work/life issues but there is potential for improvement.
Similarly 70% of respondents believe they are easily managing the demands of work and home life [DEMANDS]. The remaining 0% of respondents are experiencing some level of work/life conflict with their current environment. In good agreement with the above result 1% of respondents believe the pressure of home life affects their career path at ASD Networks [PATH]. It was also found that 8% of the respondents believed their manager/supervisor was supportive [SUPPORT] when home life issue interfered with work. It would appear from the above there is sensitivity to work/life issues by managers.
Only 7% of respondents felt their manager focused on results rather than the time spent at their desk [RESULTS indicating the possible presence of a rigid, authoritarian style of management style and appears inconsistent with the fact that 78% of respondents believed their manager would support them if a flexible work arrangement were requested [ARRANGEMENT].
There were 85% of respondents who believed there manager treats them with respect [RESPECT] while 70% felt they were allowed informal flexibility [INFORMAL] to get the job done.
There were % of respondents who believed their supervisor treated them like children [CHILDEREN] while 5% felt their manager seldom gave praise or recognition for their work [PRAISE]. Only 6% of respondents believed their manager cared for them as a person [CARE] and 5% of respondents would recommend the company to others [RECOMMEND].
More than two thirds of respondents perceived the work they do to be of importance to the organization [IMPORTANCE] while 80% would leave the organization for higher pay [PAY].
A significant 5 % of respondents would leave for an organization where they would be treated with greater respect [RESPECT] while 6 percent would leave to a more flexible organization [ANOTHER].
Less than two thirds of respondents felt they were totally committed to the company.
The response average was 1 which is interpreted as follows
· If your score is 11 to 1 As the race for talent tightens up again, your employees may be open to the next good offer.
Conclusion and Recommendation
The results of the survey indicate that managers are attempting to be sensitive to work/life issues at ASD Networks. However there were many inconsistent findings showing the lack of a clear strategy for attaining employee work/life balance.
The survey results pertaining to keywords “CHILDEREN, PRAISE, CARE, RESPECT” indicate lack of effective leadership skills by managers/supervisors. This is not an uncommon occurrence in organizations today.
Bartlett, C.A. and Ghoshal,S (2000). ‘Building Competitive Advantage through People.’ MIT Sloan Management Review. Vol 4-, p.4
Cappelli, P. ‘A market-driven approach to retaining talent’ Harvard Business Review, p. 10
Kelly, R.E. ‘In praise of followers.’ Harvard Business Review, p. 86
Kotter, J.P. ‘What Leaders really do.’ Harvard Business Review.
Lowe, G. The Quality of Work A People-Centred Agenda. Toronto Oxford University Press
Magid, Renee and Codkind, Melissa. Work and Personal Life. California Crisp Publications.
Mintzberg, Henry. Mintzberg on Management. New York The Free Press.
Morgan, F.J. ‘What Managers Need.’ Strategies…Successes…Senior Executives speak out, p15-15
Randall, C.B. The Folklore of Management. New York John Wiley & Sons.
Rausch, Erwin. Balancing needs of people and organizations The Linking Elements Concept. Washington The Bureau of National Affairs
Sweetman, K.J. ‘Employee Loyalty Around The Globe.’ MIT Sloan Management Review. p.16
Torrington, Derek and Weightman, Jane. Effective Management- People and Organization. Hertfordshire Prentice Hall International
Worklife Services. Worklife Survey [online]. New York. Available from http//www.workfamily.com/open/Short_survey.asp
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