Thursday, October 30, 2014

Does Business Strategy Have an Impact on Work-Life Balance?

Work-life balance is a common HR program that attempts to balance the needs between work and home life. That balance can be difficult to find if one is working in the service industry, consistent overtime, or in a high pressure salaried positions. Taking time to find that balance will help ensure that employees maintain a well-rounded and productive life that takes into account the whole person. The strategy a company uses to manage their business may have an impact on their desire to implement their own work-life balance programs.

A regular schedule can help people find a level of consistency that doesn’t occur if schedules are randomly changed every week. The unpredictability of work situations impacts work-life conflict, time-based conflict and strain-based conflict as measured through employee stress (Henly & Lambert, 2014). As schedules move around employees have difficulties planning activities from week to week. 

Certain sectors of the labor market have more difficulty in finding work-life balance. This is often a direct result of either too much overtime, as seen in hourly jobs in construction, or inflexible work hours in low wage occupations prevalent in the service industry. At this level, employees don’t have much control over their schedules that can cause stress when problems arise.

Executives can also have difficulty managing the demands between work and home life. When a person is responsible for a team of employees, a substantial amount of assets, and the success of a department it can be difficult to simply ignore problems to spend time with family. When an important phone call comes in it is expected that they drop what they are doing and handle the problem straight away.

The type of business strategy a company uses to guide its decisions will have an impact on their work-life balance. Those companies that follow a product leadership business strategy are more likely to adopt work-life programs when compared to those that are focused on cost leadership business strategies (Wang & Verma, 2009). 

Product leadership strategies focus more on the holistic approach to creating and selling products. Culture is one of those important components to overall success and therefore decisions to encourage work-life balance can help in encouraging higher output on an organizational level. When cost strategies take precedence it doesn’t take long to find such programs on the back burner of corporate emphasis. Decision-makers should consider the long term needs of employees in addition to the short-term financial success of the business to ensure talent is retained and fully engaged.

Henly, J. & Lambert, S. (2014). Unpredictable work timing in retail jobs: implications for employee work-life conflict. Industrial & labor Relations Review, 67 (3). 

Wang, J. & Verma, A. (2014). Explaining organizational responsiveness to work-life balance issues: the role of business strategy and high performance work systems. Academy of Management annual Meeting Proceedings. DOI: 10.5465/AMBPP.2009.44257659

Call for Papers: World Business, Finance and Management Conference

Date: 8-9 December 2014
Location: Rendezvous Hotel, Auckland, New Zealand
Deadlines: Manuscript Submission: 31 October, 2014 ; Registration: 24 November, 2014

Theoretical and empirical full papers and/or abstract plus case studies relating to all broad areas of Accounting, Banking, Finance, Economics, Management and Marketing are invited for the above international conference organised by World Business Institute of Australia, London Academic Research and Publication, UK and American Research and Publication International, USA. This conference is supported by five international peer reviewed journals ranked by Australian Business Dean Council (ABDC) and indexed by Cabell, EBSCO and Ulrich of USA

Submission Process, Review Process Review Report and Notification of Acceptance:

To submit your abstract or full paper for this conference, please click on the Submit Paper link on the website and fill in the form, attach your paper in MS Word or PDF file format and click submit. All presented papers will be blind reviewed and Review Report will be provided only on full paper (not abstract) 2-3 months after the conference. Author will be notified of review outcome within 2-3 weeks after arrival of paper. If you have any difficulty or question relating to paper submission, please contact us via

Publication Opportunities in ABDC-Ranked Journals

Outstanding papers will be considered by the following ABDC-ranked peer reviewed international journals: Journal of Business and Policy Research, Global Review of Accounting and Finance, World Journal of Management, Global Economy and Finance Journal and International Review of Business Research Papers. Please send us your full paper to provide you feedback about the acceptability of your paper. Accepted papers will be published within 6-9 months subject to the compliance to the editorial comments and payment of subscription fees.

Conference Proceedings, Best Paper Award and Feedings

All accepted abstract and full papers of authors who register and present their paper in the conference will be published electronically as conference proceedings via This dedicated website is visited by thousands of academics around the world. Best paper award will be announced 2-3 weeks after the conference and the paper will be published in any of the above journals and a certificate will be issued to the author. Certificates for conference attendees and session chairs will be provided at the conference venue. Our conference venue is at Rendezvous Hotel in Auckland, New Zealand. You will have several feedings such as arrival, morning and afternoon break-foods and buffet lunch. We welcome you to this international gathering of academics and researchers from many countries of the world.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Are Business School Deans and Employers Focused on the Same Graduate Skills?

Businesses want college graduates to be ready to fulfill important functions upon hire. When graduates are not ready this can raise the cost of training and slow down production. Criticism of higher education revolves around the difficulties some schools are having preparing students to take on challenges in the modern business world. A study of perceptions of deans and prospective employers helps show where college administration and business leaders see eye-to-eye and where they diverge.  

Throughout the nation a debate rages about the value of higher education, its costs, and employ-ability of students. We also know that higher education is important to grow innovation and feed the needs of employers so they can fill open positions. There is a natural split between higher education as a vessel of cultural tradition and higher education as training grounds for employment.
That debate isn’t likely to be decided anytime soon. The study helps show that business school deans and employers are not that far off when assessing the importance of certain required skills. Businesses, of course, also had a few ideas but for the most part the two seem to be in the same hemisphere. 

Top Seven Skills by Prospective Employers (In order of importance): responsibility and accountability, interpersonal skills, oral communication, teamwork, ethical values, decision-making and analytical skills, and creativity and critical thinking.

Top Seven Skills by Business School Deans (In order of importance): critical skills/abilities to the organization are oral communication, written communication, interpersonal skills, decision-making, responsibility and accountability, ability to work in teams, and creativity and critical thinking skills.

As you can tell oral communication, responsibility and accountability, interpersonal skills, decision-making, creativity and critical thinking skills were common to both deans and prospective employers. Where they differed was ethical values, analytical skills and critical skills/abilities.

The differences seem to be based in the soft and hard skills. Hard skills are akin to specific job functions that you may find on a job description while soft skills are related more to personality and the ability to work with others. Understanding how to make a chart is an easily measurable skill while having the social abilities to influence stakeholders to accept the meaning of that chart is a little more difficult. Employers lean a little heavier on soft skills while deans focus more on hard skills.

This isn’t particularly odd considering that hard skills are easier to implement into curriculum and easier to assess for successful achievement. For example, someone can either explain compound interest or they can’t. It is more difficult to assess soft skills such as politeness or ethical behavior because these are more situational. Employers will still need to interview and assess needed soft skills themselves. Sometimes they are going to get a great employee and sometimes they won’t. It will be difficult for education to fix this problem but could consider methods of encouraging these behaviors in students. 

Shuayto, N. (2013). Management skills desired by business school deans and employers: an empirical investigation. Business Education & Accreditation, 5 (2).

Feds Announce the End to the Era of Quantitative Easing

The Federal Reserve announced a discontinuing of the controversial bond buying program at the end of October this year. They will keep the short-term rates around 0 for the near future.  To this point, the risk to inflation is relatively low and the economy has shown mixed signals of strength in the last year or so. The Federal Reserve seeks to support the  3% projected national growth rate while not undercutting gains in the employment market. 

Lower Unemployment and Skepticism

Unemployment dropped to 5.9% but wages have not risen to provide an income boost. Most Americans are still skeptical of the economy and feel that improvements will occur sometime next year. They are not sure when next year but “sometime” seems to be the target spot. It is skepticism that is a result of not seeing high paying jobs and wage increases.

Bond Purchases

The bond purchases were controversial from the beginning but were seen as one avenue of encouraging development out of the world’s longest recession. Since 2008, the Fed’s investment holdings are around $4.5 trillion making them unprecedented in history. As the amount rises, so does the cost of debt, at a time where budgets are anything but balanced. 

The whole purpose of quantitative easing was to reduce interest rates to spur borrowing and improve economic activity (Newman, 2013). Theoretically, as interest rates decline businesses find it cheaper to expand operations and build more factories and businesses. It ignores the high rates of cash many of these businesses are sitting upon. 

As debt increases so does its overall costs. It becomes counter-intuitive to hold so much debt without reasonable assurance when and how it will be paid back. Long-term liabilities in business and government can be risky if the situation changes, another recession occurs, or the costs of servicing that debt rise unexpectedly. The Fed has ended an era of Keynesian induced development. 

Low Interest Rates

Keeping the interest rates low at a time when inflation risks are low is beneficial. Low interest rates can be a spark for development and investment (Dunlap, 2013). That development can be in the form of business growth, housing, or spending. As money stays cheap people will naturally spend more because it is easier for them to borrow than to save. 

Economic Optimism:

One factor that is not discussed in all the high finance terminology is optimism. American businesses must feel as though their future prospects will be lucrative. Investors want to feel that by borrowing and spending today they will reap significant rewards tomorrow.  Their analysis and decision-making leads to the conclusion that the economy will continue to get better and expand leaving them ample room for profit. If they perceive the economy will not get much better it makes more sense to purchase less risky investments or hold their money in the bank until brighter days are again apparent. 

Newman, R. (2013). A boost from the Fed. U.S. News Digital Weekly, 5 (10). 

Dunlap, N. (2013). Interest rates, the economy, and the market marionette. Journal of Property Management, 78 (6).