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High performance in a job leads to high satisfaction. Many employees relate work with life’s fulfillment, and connect their satisfaction at work with their feelings and satisfaction in life, and happiness with their family. Satisfaction in the workplace means happiness at home and fulfillment in life.
Work and life balance suggests a balance for life and what people do. There has to be a blending equality that includes work, family, pleasure, fulfillment, and satisfaction.
Some skeptics suggest however that there is actually no relation between life and work. What works in the workplace has no correlation with what is happening at home. But recent surveys and experiences revealed that organizations adopting family-friendly and work-life balance policies and programmes motivate employees to be more productive and further create satisfaction among family-oriented employees.
Work-life balance has been given much attention lately because this has convinced employers of its economic benefits and of the need for change. When it comes to the see-saw metaphor between life and work, most people in the workplace put more weight in favor of work. But there are a lot of workers who are dissatisfied with their jobs.
Work and life balance is achieved “when an individual’s right to a fulfilled life inside and outside paid work is accepted and respected as the norm, to the mutual benefit of the individual, business and society”. (McIntosh, 2003, p. 181)
Greenhaus, Collins, and Shaw (2003), made a study on work-family balance, and found that work-family balance has some connection to the quality of life of employees and managers. They argued that, “when individuals invest relatively little of their time or involvement in their combined work and family roles, or when they derive little satisfaction from their combined roles, work-family balance is unrelated to quality of life” (p. 525).
Employees who work more time at work for reasons such as material return, have no valuable time for their family. They spend more working hours which deprive them of more precious time for the family. One reason is that they have to earn more so they can pay for their debts. (Schor, 1991, p. 17, as cited in White, Hill, McGovern, Mills, & Smeaton, 2007, p. 177)
Schor’s (1991) study states that those who work more have a ‘time squeeze’, or in other words, they have less time for other personal pursuits, like spending time with their families at home.
Working men are in a dilemma; they realize that more time is needed at home with their children, but they also have to work and spend more time in order to earn. They love their family and their home, they want to have more precious hours with their families, but they also want to work, as they find satisfaction in work. (Burke, 2000, p. 81)
Satisfaction in life inside and outside of work is important for the employees and employers as well. (Haar, Spell, & O’Driscoll, 2009, p. 200)
The issue of housework and childcare has become one topic for discussion when it comes to working women. With the demographic workforce now changing, i.e. there are more women working in factories and offices, employees are now turned between which one to choose first – work or home. There are the mothers reinforcing the workforce demographic, and the problem is who will take care of the home and children.
A research on the changing demographics in labor market was conducted by IFF Research (one of the largest independent research companies in United Kingdom established in 1965) employing a telephone survey of 1,000 respondents aged 16 plus in September 2004, and found the following results:
- More than fifty percent were dissatisfied with their working hours and that they preferred to work fewer hours, or to work flexibly.
- Over two-thirds of respondents wanted their company to give them more time out or reduce their long working hours.
- Most respondents wanted to have part-time or full-time work depending on situations; company should allow flexible basis of work.
- Men and women have different expectations of their work, especially when they have children.
- Younger respondents would like flexible working hours until they reach well before retirement age, but those aged over 55 would like working full time until their sixties. The older generation would not want to be written off at 60.
- Majority of the respondents, around ninety percent, stated that employers should focus and invest money in changing working practices. (Williams & Jones, 2005, pp. 2-3)
Employees demand benefit packages and flexibility from work. Flexible working arrangements and flexible benefit packages include flexible time, shorter working hours, and sometimes work with use of Information Technology or the internet, which can allow workers to work at home.
How to Manage Work and Life Balance
Studies have proved that successful employees are the motivated ones. This can be explained in the human-need theory which states that people have urges relative the needs for achievement, affiliation, and power.
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How a firm manages human resource affects the performance of the employees. Labour unrest, absenteeism and conflict in the workplace usually result from poor human resource management, for example lack of motivation, employees benefits, etc. (Montana and Charnov, 2008, p. 123)
Fathers, Family and Work
Recent study showed that fathers would like to spend more time at home. Stuart Jeffries stated in an online article “Fathers, Family and Work” that majority of the working fathers today are not happy, or are unsatisfied with work and life balance; meaning, they are not really happy with their job. They want to spend weekends with their children. (Jeffries, 2009)
Fathers were interviewed in the workplace and these were those who liked to be at home with their kids during weekends. Sixty-two percent of the working fathers would like to spend their time with their children. Husbands would not like to be alone doing the childcare, but they love to spend time with their children.
Work-Life Balance in Saudi Arabia
In a research study in Saudi Arabia, 132 managers were asked of their opinion on work and life balance. Questionnaires were sent to the participants. The results were that 94% of the participants answered that they would continue working even if they had enough money because it would allow them to live comfortably. In this study, it was found that money was a motivational factor.
The participants also responded that family and work were very important to them, in fact their activities were focused on these two. It was also found in the survey that Saudi managers were committed to their responsibilities as managers, and that their attitude towards work allowed them to work hard and accept the tasks and responsibilities given them. (International Journal of Manpower, 1989)
The meaning of work-life balance among Saudi Arabia workers was surveyed on employees in Saudi Arabia. Workers were asked what motivated them to work even if they had enough money. We used open-ended questions to allow the participants to answer the questions freely.
The participants were chosen from a sample population of managers and workers in government institutions in Saudi Arabia. Fifty employees were asked to answer questionnaires sent to them through emails. Their answers were varied considering that government employees in Saudi Arabia have several motivational factors.
Questions asked in the questionnaire
- Do you find satisfaction in work?
- Can you compare this to your satisfaction in your time with your family?
- Do you find your working time flexible enough to allow you to spend precious time with your family?
- What flexible time in work do you recommend?
- What motivational factors do you find in your workplace?
- What are the factors that made you dissatisfied with your work?
- Do work benefits, such as salary, allowances, vacations, provide satisfaction in your jobs?
Majority of the responses from Saudi government workers were positive. Most have satisfaction in their job due to the flexible working hours provided by the government, the salaries and allowances, and other benefits.
There has been a shift in focus in work and life balance, as seen in the government and private sector. There should be more attention focused on employee’s satisfaction, working conditions, working time flexibility, because of the many benefits that organizations attain for introducing work-life balance.
Success in work and life balance depends on many factors. It has to be a cooperative work depending on situations in the workplace and the employee’s satisfaction at work. Management and employees have to work and interact in the process.
Surveys found that fathers find satisfaction in their job, but they also want to be with their family and to be a part of child care. They can do this during weekends, but they do not want full-time. Generally, workers in the survey responded positively when asked about work and life balance in the Saudi offices and factories.
Burke, R. (2000). Do managerial men benefit from organizational values supporting work-personal life balance? Women in Management Review, Vol. 15, No. 2, pp. 81-89. Web.
Greenhaus, J. H., Collins, K. M., & Shaw, J. D. (2003). The relation between work-family balance and quality of life. Journal of Vocational Behavior 63 (2003) 510–531. doi:10.1016/S0001-8791(02)00042-8
International Journal of Manpower (1989). The meaning of work in Saudi Arabia. International Journal of Management [e-journal], Available through: City University Library .
Haar, J. M., Spell, C., & O’Driscoll, M. (2009). Managing work-family conflict: exploring individual and organisational options. NZJHRM 2009 Special Issue: Work-Family & Gender, Vol. 9 (3)
Jeffries, S. (2009). Why don’t more dads work part-time? Guardian.co.uk. Retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2009/oct/21/men-work-paternity-leave
McIntosh, S. (2003). Work-life balance: How life coaching can help. Business Information Review. SAGE Publications, London, Thousand Oaks and New Delhi., Vol. 20(4): 181–189 [0266-3821(200312)20:4; 181–189; 040732]
Montana, P. J. and Charnov, B. H. (2008). Management, 4th edition. UK: Barron’s Educational Series, Inc.
White, M., Hill, S., McGovern, P., Mills, C., & Smeaton, D. (2003). ‘High-performance’ management practices, working hours and work-life balance. British Journal of Industrial Relations 41:2 June 2003 0007-1080 pp. 175-195. doi: 10.1111/1467-8543.00268
Williams, L. & Jones, A. (2005). Changing demographics. The Work Foundation. Web.