Impact of gender sensitive practices on job satisfaction & stress levels.

AuthorVerma, Monica


Demographic transformations and changes in the structure of society have resulted in a shift in social trends. The inclusion of large number of women in employment is one of the many changes which are taking place in these new working life patterns (Noon and Blyton, 1997) and has created variations in the way employment terms are offered. In 1984, John Atkinson at the University of Sussex (UK) talked about a new model of the firm called the "flexible firm" (Atkinson, 1984) which was a result of these changes. The main premise of the flexible firm is that it divides its workforce into different segments each employed on different terms and conditions, which reflect the nature of their contribution to the production process. Organizations, in order to gain competitive advantage and increase employee's commitment, seek to attain flexibilities--numerically, financially, functionally and temporally (Johnson, 2004). Also, interest in flexible working arrangements has been growing, as such practices have been regarded as the measures to reconcile or balance increased pressures of work and family life (Dex & Scheibl, 2001).

Recently, India has also experienced a considerable increase in female employment in BPO industry. The industry has the highest percentage of women workforce and there is a continuous increase in the number of women professionals over the years with one fifth of the female employees at the managerial level or above. A sudden and steep increase in female employees may require a new HRM policy which is different from a traditional male oriented personnel policy. Traditionally, work structures were designed to fit males only. Conventional management policies did not consider the dual responsibilities of female employees between work and families. As a result, there is a sudden development of gender sensitive practices in many organizations in India, including BPOs. From an organizational perspective, the primary focus for being more family-friendly is to attract and retain qualified employees (Rogier & Padgett, 2004). However, with the increase in the number of female employees, there has been additional pressure to become more family friendly on moral or ethical grounds (Cohen & Single, 2001). This argument can be supported by the fact that organizations have an obligation to provide mechanisms to help employees balance their work and home life so that employees, particularly women, are not forced to choose one over the other.

Many organizations are adopting gender sensitive or family-responsive human resource policies to help employees achieve a better balance between work and family (Rogier & Padgett, 2004)

The purpose of this study is to explore the satisfaction and stress levels of women employees of call centers who avail the benefits of various gender sensitive practices. Over the long term, this may encourage women to reduce their intentions to leave the organization and increase the level of organizational commitment. Many researches have been conducted in various other sectors which focus on the impact of family friendly policies on job satisfaction, career advancement and organizational commitment of women employees (Park & Kim, 2001). However, there is dearth of similar studies in an unconventional work environment like call centers. With a sample of women employees working in BPOs / call centers, this study tries to fill this gap by examining how gender sensitive policies influence job satisfaction, organizational commitment, stress and intention to leave the organization.

Literature Review

Family--friendly Policies: Today, unlike in the past, employees demand a high quality life both at family front as well as the workplace (Moon & Roh, 2010). This high quality life seems to provide satisfaction and happiness to the employees' family life which according to Romzek (1991) can have a positive impact on the workplace. This may be one of the main reasons why gender sensitive or family friendly practices have been recommended to help employees reduce work-family conflict by allowing them more control over their work schedule. Park & Kim (2001) found that family-friendly policies in S. Korea have a positive influence on job satisfaction and organizational commitment. Similarly, Moon & Roh (2010) in their study found that the balance between work and family was the strongest predictor influencing job motivation, work performance and employee morale.

Researches indicate that out of the many components of family friendly policies, women are more likely to work flexible schedules (Almer & Kaplan, 2002; Cohen, 1997). Almer & Kaplan (2002) reported that employees working a flexible arrangement experienced lower levels of stress and burnout. Similarly, Galinksy, Bond & Friedman (1996) found that having control over work schedules, leads to employees feeling less stressed, which suggests that they may also perceive less work family conflict. Since women are entrusted with the responsibilities at the family front, this can be considered as the reason for women working flexible schedules. It has also been found that flexible work schedules provide organizational benefits such as increased job satisfaction, organizational commitment and productivity and decreased absenteeism and turnover. According to work adjustment model (Pierce & Newstrom, 1980), a good match between the rewards offered by a job and the needs of an employee results in positive job attitudes. Positive job attitude implies increase in job satisfaction (Baltes et al, 1999; Pierce & Newstrom, 1980) and a reduction in absenteeism and turnover (Pierce, Newstrom, Dunham & Barber, 1989). In addition, this balance will further result in an increase in organizational commitment (Rogier & Padgett, 2004). More recent researches tend to confirm these findings. A literature review on family responsive work place policies including alternative work arrangements, concluded that productivity, organizational commitment, retention and job satisfaction are all positively affected by these policies (Glass & Finley, 2002).

Flexible work schedules...

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