Saturday, March 29, 2014

Work Life Balance ?

In this era of social media revolution, information and communications management has become pretty easy. Companies are finding easier and faster ways of keeping in touch employees. With plethora of devices - lead to an ‘always on’ culture where location is irrelevant and connectivity is given. The advent of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is making life easier for both the employees and employers to keep pace with the work loads, by constantly updating the present status.
Gone are the days of nine to five and the thin line between work and life beyond work is becoming more and more irrelevant. Increased work load is having a telling effect both on the high and average performers, while for the employees rated as below average it really has no significance. In organizations where the balance is missing, we could see visible effect in high performers leaving the company putting more and more pressure on existing team members to share the work load and finish the tasks.
Expectations from employers have gone up steeply and they feel that Employees need to be available at all times - beyond office hours and on weekends too. This has resulted in frustration among the people who wish to have more privacy and free time to pursue their hobbies. It becomes increasingly difficult to keep away from mundane and routine tasks and employees are always on the toes to complete the tasks assigned to them and often run on stringent dead lines.
The discussions around Work Life basically revolves around female employees and is all about how women were able to strike a perfect balance between the two. Indeed they are playing multiple roles at the same with finesse.
HR Policies on W / L
A well defined HR Policy on Work Life is required to keep employees aware of the processes and best practices in Strategic HRM. Many companies suffer on this count as they give very little importance to this aspect. Workers in the knowledge industries are more prone to extreme work pressures trying to finish the work before the project dead lines. It becomes all the more relevant to have a well researched and thoughtful policy which captures essence of striking a perfect balance between work and life.
What employees feel : Lets look at both the extremes to guage public opinion on this critical aspect of employment
Positive :
In large companies - MNCs there are many testimonials where the employees are highly motivated by a pro-active HR policies trying to strike a balance between Work and Life. For instance at GE Capital, there is a recognition that employees are real people, not humanresources. They know that real people have families and may well have significant commitments such as caring for an elderly relative or looking after two or three children.
Negative :
It is a Jinxed Idea - in most cases employees feel that it is work and more work and no life beyond work! Many employees are of the opinion that working on balancing Work Life is a flawed one, since all these are heavily loaded in favor of the employers, leaving little room for the employees. Vast majority of junior level engineers feel that it is a utter "non-sense" and should be scrapped since they have not experienced any difference. For them it is Work and Work and there is no life beyond work !!
A tool to attract & retain Top Talent :
A thoughtful Policy on W / L helps both in attracting and retaining top talent. The awareness amongst employees is so high that candidates are asking about how company is oriented towards balancing work and it is fast becoming a top priority. Any company which aims to become an employer of choice must build this into their culture. The existing high performers too have high expectations in this regard, any neglect will eventually lead to separation.
While Business managers are more inclined to push for less resources for projects, keeping in view billing rates of the software engineers per project, the work load is increasing at all levels. Companies do resort to temporary staffing for shorter duration to seek external teams to work on projects. A scientifically researched on the number of people needed for the project work deserves a closer look.
A way out will be to customize the policies to suit the industry / environment, HR plays a key role in "right sizing" of teams and a well defined roles / responsibilities metrics goes a long way in proper distribution of work, leaving un-necessary excess loading on high performers. The whole perception of 'resources' has to change with reduced focus on 'ROI' and sensitize other line functions on urgent need to have a highly motivated work force will go a long way in the success and future of a balanced Work Life.

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