With the advancement of civilization and the emergence of modern corporate culture, work-life has become organized. For a major percentage of corporate workers, work has become a central part of their lives. And hence it has its effect on personal life too. While a good day at work brings smile back home, a bad one spoils precious family hours or even worse, a long one does not leave any space for family hours. In worst cases, if the “long” ones go on for days, you lose connection with your family. In the long run, this affects your state of mind and happiness.
Here, work life balance (WLB) comes into play. WLB is about empowering individuals to accustom to a specific work circumstance to help fulfill their responsibilities and aspirations to lead to mutual benefit of the individual, business and society at large.
- Globalization: With the advent of globalization, twenty-first century has witnessed 24/7 running workplace, continuous change of business process and near-death of trade unions.
- Salary is not the only thing that matters: In the rat race of professional advancement, viz. perks, status, profile, position etc., individuals tend to forget the fundamentals, the more important things in life.
- Have a life: Work is one of the various aspects of life. One should explore all other avenues of life to be actually happy. Unknowingly, this might keep you from being a “smart worker”.
- Raise a family: Family is an important aspect of life. Keeping this in mind, companies have measured indices for work-family conflict (WFC) and family-work conflict (FWC) and found a direct correlation with turnover rate of organizations.
Work so that you can work tomorrow: Ultimately, health and state of mind are the most important things that will keep us going in the long run. And leading a balanced life is a must for that.
- Work hours
- Family-friendly work policies
Work-life balance: Eastern and Western perspectives
Companies take different approaches based on its demographics in order to maintain WLB at an individual and collectively at organizational level.
- Female workforce: In Asian countries, it is a big challenge to bring female workforce in the male-dominated work place and retain them as compared to west. There is additional family expectation besides a challenging work environment and this puts professional career of women at stake. In order to address this issue at individual level, companies practice specialized socialization process and HR policies are made in tune with that.
- Traditional priorities: While sharing family responsibilities equally between spouses is a norm in west, the story is different in Asian context. Here, women are in charge of family and their husbands are the bread earners. Although, the mindset is rapidly changing among urban youths, still story of sacrifice of leaving workplace among women is commonplace in order to pull together the family strings. So, WLB policies are made in accordance.
- Long Work hours: In Asian context, longer work hours seems to be equated with higher commitment.
- Family-friendly work policies: Although several measures have been taken to introduce family-friendly policies, the process lose its value in the communication stage and actual implementation is still something most of the companies are looking forward to.
- So far Indian companies have been able to make improvement in following areas to improve WLB:
(1) Work hours
(2) Maternity leave
- Western multinationals mainly stress on the following points to improve WLB:
(1) Flexi working hours
(2) Employee assistance program
(3) Childcare and helpline
Top companies in WLB rating
- Nokia 4.3
- Agilent Technologies 4.2
- Microsoft 4.0
- Procter & Gamble 4.0
- GlaxoSmithKline 3.8
- Nestle´ 3.8
- HP India 3.7
- GE 3.7
- IBM India 3.6
- Citigroup 3.6
- PepsiCo 3.5
- HSBC Holdings 3.5
Source: glassdoor.com: Scale: 4.51–5.0 ‘very satisfied’; 3.5–4.5 ‘satisfied’
Public sector vs Private sector vs Multinational companies
Article by Subhadeep Das