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

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