Academic journal article Indian Journal of Industrial Relations

Work Life Balance, Employee Engagement, Emotional Consonance/dissonance & Turnover Intention

Academic journal article Indian Journal of Industrial Relations

Work Life Balance, Employee Engagement, Emotional Consonance/dissonance & Turnover Intention

Article excerpt

Work-Life Balance- Who is it for?

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 effectiveness.

Work-Life Balance (WLB) has been an issue of concern for the last few decades. The current context of globalization and the changing nature of work have provided the impetus for this topic. The current work scenario is marked by the fast pace of change, intense pressure, constant deadlines, changing demographics, increased use of technology and the co-existing virtual workplace. Juxtaposed with this, the increase in average income and rise in living standards have individuals striving for better work atmosphere, improved family and personal life. Today is the time when employees want it all. It is not restricted to one domain of work or life but rather a rich synthesis of the two. "Generations X and Y are keeping the pressure on companies to devise flexible, innovative options that give high-performing employees more choice and control in managing the competing demands of work and family" (Klun 2008).

WLB metaphor is a social construct located within a particular period of time and originating in the western context. Research in this domain emerged at a time when the number of women entering the labor market grew and resulted in a focus on working mothers and dual earner families. Also, the stress and burnout associated with workplace changes in the 1980s and 1990s reflected debate around "work family conflict" (Lewis, Gambles & Rapaport 2007). A shift from "work family" and "family friendly" policies with their implicit 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 acknowledges, the fact, that individuals need to express and satisfy their need for enjoyment and leisure. On the converse, outside formal, paid employment, there is unpaid work, like caring responsibilities, cooking, cleaning, etc. and leisure time is just a fantasy (Collins 2007).

WLB is a much broader concept requiring attention not just of married, with children couples or working mothers but of working individuals at large, whether or not they are married, and whether or not they have family obligations. Intensification of work and technology that blurs the boundary between work and the rest of life provides challenges for one and all. Competitive and customer pressures have forced companies to rationalise and restructure, and as a consequence less people have to do more work (Poelmans, Kalliath & Brough 2008). WLB should not only mean a balance between work and family but between work and the rest of life activities. By relating WLB to career stage, Sturges (2008) includes younger professionals without family responsibilities into the domain. It is an all encompassing issue that is pertinent for anyone requiring personal space. Seen this way, this concept has relevance to a larger audience. The narrow conceptualization of WLB portrays the individual as being torn between the demands of work and family. It looses touch with the very essence of being human. Human life is not just about necessity but also about choices and by acknowledging that individuals need to pursue their own desires and satisfy their needs, a subjective character of WLB is introduced which has its own intrinsic utility. …

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