An empirical investigation into the impact of work-life balance practices on employees and employers

Annandale, Melanie (2012-03)

Thesis (MBA)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The old belief that work and life are two separate, conflicting issues no longer holds true for companies that wish to establish a sustainable competitive advantage. Because of the transformation of global markets and the changing demographics of the workforce, the benefits of work-life balance for employees and employers can no longer be ignored. The purpose of this research was to ascertain whether the use of work-life balance enhancing practices leads to increased organisational benefits and improved employee morale. The study identified numerous benefits of efficient work-life balance practices for employees as well as employers and established that the existence of work-life balance practices enhances organisational benefits and employee morale. The research question was addressed through the use of a self-developed structured questionnaire consisting of a list of written questions. The survey was carried out using an online questionnaire and targeted professionals in permanent paid employment in South Africa. In answer to the research objectives, the outcomes of the survey suggest that work-life balance is decreased as a result of an increase in work-life conflict. Work-life conflict may be aggravated by an increase in stress levels, work commitments impacting negatively on time available for leisure activities or family responsibilities, and an increase in the number of hours worked. The existing corporate culture and related negative perceptions surrounding employees making use of work-life balance initiatives, may further add to the conflict between work and life. The results of the survey indicated that not having effective work-life balance practices in a company may negatively impact on organisational aspects such as reduced job satisfaction, poor retention; increased absenteeism and more negative spill-over from life to work. The absence of work-life balance practices may affect employee morale adversely as a result of a decrease in well-being due to a lack of balance; poor health due to stress and feeling over-worked; an increase in work-life conflict; more negative spill-over from work to life; and an increase in work-life conflict due to an increase in working hours. Based on survey results, improved productivity, better recruitment and enhanced career commitment were not directly affected as a result of a lack of work-life balance practices. To realise the full benefits that effective work-life balance practices have to offer requires a paradigm shift away from a focus on policy to a process approach which involves examining the nature of paid work as well as the underlying assumptions in an effort to uncover innovative ways of altering these to benefit organisations, employees and societies more holistically. It is hoped that this research will help encourage the debate of exploring a social sustainability methodology that questions some of the existing assumptions of competitive capitalism which value economic growth for its own sake regardless of related social issues.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die historiese oortuiging dat werk en lewe „n aparte, teenstrydige vraagstuk is, is nie langer geldig vir maatskappye wat hoop om „n volhoubare kompeterende voordeel daar te stel nie. Die voordele wat werk-lewe balans vir werknemers sowel as werkgewers inhou, kan nie langer geïgnoreer word te midde van die veranderende wêreldwye marklandskap asook veranderinge in die demografie van die werksmag nie. Die doel van hierdie navorsing is om vas te stel of die gebruikmaking van effektiewe werk-lewe balanspraktyke tot verhoogde organisatoriese voordele en verbeterde werknemermoraal lei. Die studie het verskeie voordele van effektiewe werk-lewe balanspraktyke vir werknemes en werkgewers geidentifiseer. Dit het ook vasgestel dat die bestaan van praktyke wat werk-lewe balans aanmoedig, voordele inhou vir die organisasie sowel as werknemermoraal. Die navorsingsvraag is aangespreek deur „n selfontwikkelde gestruktureerde vraelys wat bestaan uit „n lys van skriftelike vrae. Die opname is uitgevoer met behulp van 'n aanlynvraelys en het professionele mense in permanent betaalde werk in Suid-Afrika geteiken. Na aanleiding van die navorsingsdoelwitte, het die uitkomste van die opname daarop gedui dat werk-lewe balans afneem as gevolg van „n toename in die werk-lewe konflik. Werk-lewe konflik word vererger deur „n toename in stresvlakke, werksverpligtinge wat „n negatiewe impak het op tyd beskikbaar vir ontspanning of gesinsverantwoordelikhede, en „n toename in die aantal ure gewerk. Die bestaande korporatiewe kultuur en verwante negatiewe persepsies rondom werknemers wat gebruik maak van werk-lewe balans inisiatiewe, kan verder bydra tot die konflik tussen werk en lewe. Die resultate van die opname het aangedui dat die afwesigheid van effektiewe werk-lewe balanspraktyke in „n maatskappy mag „n negatiewe impak hê op organisatoriese aspekte soos verlaagde werksbevrediging, swak retensie, verhoogde afwesigheid en meer negatiewe oorloopgevolge tussen lewe en werk. Die afwesigheid van werk-lewe balans praktyke kan werknemermoraal nadelig beïnvloed as gevolg van „n afname in welstand weens „n gebrek aan balans; swak gesondheid as gevolg van stres en „n gevoel van oorwerk; „n toename in werk-lewe konflik; meer negatief oorloopsgevolge tussen werk en lewe; en „n toename in die werk-lewe konflik as gevolg van „n toename in werksure. Gebaseer op die resultate van die studie, was verbeterde produktiwiteit, beter werwing en verbeterde loopbaan toewyding nie direk beïnvloed deur „n gebrek aan werk-lewe balans praktyke nie. Om die volle voordele van effektiewe werk-lewe balanspraktyke te realiseer, verg „n paradigmaskuif weg van „n fokus op beleid na „n benadering wat die aard van betaalde werk ondersoek, sowel as die onderliggende aannames, in „n poging om innoverende maniere van die verandering hiervan te ontbloot tot voordeel van organisasies, werknemers en gemeenskappe. Daar word gehoop dat hierdie navorsing sal help om die debat aan te moedig wat die moontlikheid van „n sosiale volhoubaarheid metodologie wat sommige van die bestaande aannames van mededingende kapitalisme, wat ekonomiese groei bo alles nastreef, ongeag verwante sosiale kwessies sal ondersoek. Stellenbosch University http://scholar.sun.ac.za

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/21196
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