The assignment has been prepared to study the two most important concepts of human resource management in the present day business world. The two concepts are flexibility at the workplace and work life balance of the employees, which are being highly considered by the managers these days to improve the work environment, maximise productivity, retain employees and increase the levels of job satisfaction amongst them. The assignment has been very helpful in gaining a thorough insight into the two concepts and gaining knowledge about their past, present and future status. It also helps us in understanding the effects that the long working hours can have on employees and the initiatives that a company can take to facilitate work life balance for the human resource even when the company is going through an economic downturn.
The assignment has been prepared to study the concepts of flexibility and work life balance. The basic purpose of the assignment is to study the concepts and find out the entities that benefit from the implementation of flexibility at the workplace. It further aims to study the effect of long working hours on the human resource and how can the management promote work life balance even in the periods of economic downturn. To study all of the above points, we would consult a number of online websites and articles to come to a conclusion.
The modern day business world is quite complex and the introduction of globalization has further increased up the complexities. The companies are now striving for their survival in their market and are willing to do anything that would help them in achieving a competitive advantage over other firms. In such a scenario, it is almost impossible to achieve a competitive advantage through products, services or processes as they can be easily reverse engineered and replicated within no time. Therefore, the companies are relying upon their human resources to achieve competitive advantages which they cannot achieve otherwise. In order to achieve such competitive advantages, the companies are trying to establish the best possible work environment for the employees so that they can perform well and contribute more towards the overall productivity. Flexibility at workplace is one such approach that aims at improving the work conditions by allowing the management and the employees to together decide the working conditions, which would be suitable to both the parties. The basic aim of workplace flexibility is to provide flexibility in the work conditions to the employees and achieve an increase in the productivity and efficiency while bringing down the operating costs side by side. Flexibility is talked about a lot in the present day organisations and is almost demanded by all employees because it helps the employees in maintaining a better balance between their work life and personal life ("Flexibility in the workplace – Employee entitlements – Fair Work Ombudsman", n.d.).
Workplace flexibility is a concept that was introduced a couple of decades ago. There are plenty of business organisations that have based their success stories on workplace flexibility while there are also organisations that have not been able to implement the concept successfully and have lost their productivity and efficiency due to the failure. Flexibility is also in a great demand as the employees prefer to work with the companies that offer flexibility to their employees. Such companies are able to maintain a positive image in the market and are able to retain their existing workforce and attract new pool of talented employees. Furthermore, a number of researchers have concluded that workplace flexibility can help in improving the work life balance of the employees and reduce the levels of stress amongst them ("why employees need flexibility", n.d.).
Workplace flexibility is proving to be a very crucial concept in the management of human resources despite many believes that it has lost its original paradigm and is no more effective as it used to be earlier. According to Juliet Bourke, the concept of flexibility has lost its original paradigm because now the same work is expected to be accomplished by a lesser workforce. The viewpoint of Juliet Bourke is totally incorrect as such things depend upon the policies that the management is able to formulate under workplace flexibility. Flexibility does not mean all the work for some employees and no work for the other employees. Rather, it means that the work is the same for each employee but they are just allowed to accomplish it within any time of the day. Further, if only a few employees were overloaded with all the work then the researchers could not have concluded that flexibility at workplace could help in bringing down the levels of stress. Therefore, it can be easily said that workplace flexibility has not lost its original paradigm and the only problems being faced in flexibility are due to the issues in proper implementation.
Long working hours or overtime is a concept where the employees working in a company are allowed to work for an extra duration of time so that they can earn more than they get paid for their regular work. It is an exceptional approach to earn money for those employees who are undergoing harsh times or are unable to make both their ends meet. It also helps the company in fulfilling the demands of the human resources when the supply gets lower due to unexpected reasons as the company can pay extra to the employees and still get the work done. However, the negative impacts of long working hours have been carefully considered and they outweigh the benefits of long working hours any day. Let us now discuss some of the negative impacts of long working hours:
Increase in problems related to health of the employees à a number of researchers have tried to study the effect of long working hours on the health of the employees and have concluded that there are serious negative impacts of long working hours on the health of the employees. Some of the common problems, which have been found to be common in employees that work for longer hours, are listed below:
A number of studies have also concluded that the employees who work for more than 50 hours in a single week have more problems in their families, reduced mental health, drug addiction and divorces.
Decrease in productivity à Some companies believe that by making the employees work for longer durations, they would be able to achieve an increase in the overall productivity and efficiency, which is obviously not true. Employees are humans not machines and they tend to get bored with a piece of work if they have to do it again and again and for longer durations. When the employees get bored of their work, there would be an obvious decline in the productivity and efficiency as they would not want to do the same work again and again. Further, some of the employees might even leave an organisation which asks them to carry on doing a same piece of work for very long period of time.
Increased absenteeism à one of the most serious impacts of long working hours on the human resource of a company can be an increase in the absenteeism of employees. When the employees are given a piece of work which they have to perform repeatedly and for very long periods of time, they often tend to get bored of their work. Long working hours also disturb the work life balance of the employees, which ultimately increases the levels of stress amongst them. As a result, sooner or later, the employees feel stressed with their work and tend to take unnecessary leaves from their jobs so that they can take rest and can improve their work life balance.
Stalled work à another negative impact of long working hours is stalled work. Overtime and long working hours are in other way a system of appraisal that appraises the employees putting in extra time in the form of monetary compensations. To make the best out of it, the employees might sometimes stall their regular work so that they can make an excuse and carry it further to their overtime periods. They might not work with the same speed as they would have done in the absence of an overtime opportunity. By stalling the work, they can complete the same work in more time and earn extra incentive ("How Does Overtime Affect Employee Performance?", n.d.).
Increased in turnover rates à as absenteeism is one of the consequences of long working hours, it is obvious that slowly and steadily, the workforce would reach a stage where they would prefer leaving the organisation as working there would increase the work load on them and disturb their work life balance. As a result, they finally quit the organisations and end up increasing the turnover rates. Turnover rates can increase exponentially when organisations ask their employees to work for longer periods of time without actually providing them with any kind of compensation for the extra efforts put in by them.
Segmentation à long working hours can also cause segmentation in the human resource of a company. This is one of the least expected impacts of long working hours. Sometimes, the workers who mostly work for longer hours or for extra time might have a tendency of becoming territorial and would want to take over all the responsibilities as they would want to be the only ones to receive the benefits of overtime or long working hours.
Increase in mistakes à a number of researchers have concluded that long working hours or overtime can increase the number of mistakes committed by employees that work in jobs which require interpersonal communication, making judgement calls, managing emotional reactions or dealing with emotions or feelings of other people. As a result, the performance and accuracy can greatly suffer because of overtime work or long working hours ("The Research Is Clear: Long Hours Backfire for People and for Companies", 2015).
Work life balance is one of the most important concepts that have emerged in the past history of human resource management. Work life balance, in simple words, is defined as the balance between the personal lives and work lives of employees. In the modern day business world, business organisations as well as the employees are facing a number of complexities and as a result, they are experiencing greater levels of stress. Further, the employees also have a personal life and what happens in their personal lives can also become a reason for stress. When the stress resulting from one source interferes with their other life, it is said that the employees lack a proper balance between their work and personal life. Absence of work life balance can have serious consequences and as a result, the human resource managers a retrying their best to undertake approaches that would help the employees in improving their work life balances (Naithani, 2010).
Ensuring work life balance for employees can become quite difficult in periods when the business is experiencing an economic downturn or a recession. During economic downturns or recessions, business organisations experience a drastic fall in the sales of their goods and products. As a result, the levels of stress creep up and it becomes difficult to maintain a balance between work and life. Ensuring work life balance for employees becomes essential in such conditions as it not only benefits the employees but also benefits the employers in the form of reduced operating costs and highly productive workforce. Let us discuss some initiatives that the management can undertake, in periods of economic downturns, to ensure proper work life balance for the employees:
Part time working and job sharing à one of the best ways to facilitate work life balance in economic downturns is by providing part time work options to the employees. It would allow them to manage their work life and personal life in a better way and they would ultimately become more productive. It would also help the management in reducing the operating cost as there would be less employees working at the workplace (Buchholtz, 2016).
Sabbatical leaves à another way to help the employees in managing their work life balance is to provide them with sabbatical leaves. Sabbatical leaves are those leaves in which an employee remains employed with the employer but is not required to assignment to the employer for a fixed period of time. It could help the employees in taking some time off from their work and would help the company in reducing the wage bills of the employees ("Sabbatical leave dictionary definition | sabbatical leave defined", n.d.).
Term time à term time is a concept where the employees are required to work more in a particular period of time so that they can work less in the rest of the time. This approach can be very helpful to the companies that have seasonal production and demands as both the employees and the employer reach a win-win condition.
E-working à one of the best gift of technology to this world is technology and information systems. E-working is an approach where the employees can work from anywhere using an information system and an internet connection. E-working is becoming very popular as the employees can easily work from their home at any time they feel like. Further, it eliminates the requirement to maintain huge office spaces and to provide perks and benefits to the employees while they work. It greatly helps in reducing the operating costs as they company does not has to attend its employees and pay for their welfare or recreational activities. It also helps the employees as they can work according to the time that suits them the best (Buchholtz, 2016).
The journals and the website consulted for the purpose of gaining information on the topic clearly show that flexibility and work life balance are very closely related and it is very important to introduce flexibility if a company wants its employees to have a work life balance. The concepts of flexibility and work life balance have a bright future as they are still being implemented by a number of organisations while some of the famous business firms in the world have already achieved success in their implementation. Further, the study also helped in understanding the importance of providing flexibility and work life balance opportunities to the employees during an economic downturn and how the employers can facilitate them during recession.
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