Leader-member Exchange & Employee Retention: Investigating the Mediating Role of Work-life Balance.

AuthorManelkar, Kishore Ashok


National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM, 2018) credits 7.7 percent of India's GDP to the IT BPM industry and it was estimated to grow to US$ 350 billion soon. Participation of women employees in the IT industry is second highest (NASSCOM, 2018) which is aided by many factors: gender-inclusive policies, social approval, belief that computer proficiency suits women (Varma, 2010). Organizations demand competence of knowledge, behavior and 24 x 7 work hours which is dull and tedious (Kanwar et al., 2009). This results in discontentment, annoyance, depression, addictions like smoking and alcoholism, lack of interest, displeasure, workplace accidents, relationship breakups, sickness symptoms, digestive tract disorders, insomnia, ocular symptoms like watering, redness, blurred vision, double vision, physical and emotional exhaustion, stress and hypertension (Babu et al., 2013). Kanter's theory of tokenism argues that minority group or token (women) is treated unfairly by the dominant group (male) leading to stress on tokens resulting in reduced performance outcomes (Zimmer, 1988).

A serious fallacy held by most supervisors is that people quit mainly because of pay (Allen et al., 2010). Though management discussion includes work-life balance (WLB) as a significant agenda but little justice is done to its implementation. Additional understanding is obligatory into ways by which the work-home balance can be successfully accomplished (Delina & Raya, 2013; Greenhaus & Powell, 2006) because entry of women in the IT BPM industry will go on rising in the future (NASSCOM, 2018).

Scholars have proposed that leader-member exchange (LMX) connections can reduce women employees perceived job stress and in turn will contract their work-life imbalance (Major & Morganson, 2011) and assure their retention in the organization (Bauer et al., 2006). Social exchange theory (SET) offers a leading theoretical basis (Emerson, 1976) for LMX theory, which is an evolved form of vertical dyad theory (Harris et al., 2005). It suggests that workers feel the responsibility to respond to the leader's supportive behavior with the desired role behaviors, for instance, organization citizenship (MacKenzie & Podsakoff, 2012). While most leadership philosophies focus on member attitudes, their drive and performance, LMX is oriented with the connection shared between a leader and his sup porter (Ilies et al., 2007). The goal of this study is to understand the association between LMX, WLB and employee retention (ER).

Conceptual Model & Hypothesis Formulation

LMX and ER: Leadership intellectuals discuss that managers significantly impact their subordinates' work and life experience (Dulebohn et al., 2012; Tummers & Bronkhorst, 2014). Therefore, this study examines the significance of leadership by means of LMX theory. The LMX philosophy that stems from social exchange relationship postulates that supervisor has exclusive connection with each member and describes LMX as a reciprocal interaction among leader and the member which is built on a belief of admiration and commitments (Graen & Uhl-Bien, 1995). LMX relationship could be graded and it revolves around employees' perception of their supervisors. Finest grade interactions are incorporated into the leader's coterie of trusted affairs, and so enjoy supplementary welfares and constructive experiences whereas an unhealthy LMX is grounded on signed job contract, and people get limited resources from the leader (Dulebohn et al., 2012).

According to Annabi and Lebovitz (2018), turnover rate of women in the first five years is 56% in the Indian IT BPM industry which is twofold that of men in that industry. High turnover of talented women results in replacement cost, knowledge asset loss and reduced self-esteem (Dess & Shaw, 2001). As stated by McKinsey Global Institute study, women's participation in Indian workforce can add 16% to its GDP by 2025 (Bhandare, 2015) and International Monetary Fund research estimated an increase by 27% if only its women get an opportunity to join in the workforce as much as men (Economic Times, 2018). Thus, it becomes enormously important to retain women employees. Retention of talented women is a challenge for IT BPM employers (Adya, 2008) and requires leadership support. The sense of being supported by the leader augments employee retention (ER) (Eisenberger et al., 2002). Past literature suggests that ER includes measures, such as concentration on building healty LMX relationship, (Al-Emadi et al., 2015; Tummers & Bronkhorst, 2014)). Thus, we hypothesized as:

[H.sub.1]: A healthy LMX relationship would positively impact women employee retention in the IT BPM industry.

LMX and Work-life Balance: Shanmugam (2017) noticed woman's relational nature and that they respect connections they have and they are ready to step back for others if their progressive career poses threat to their relationships. Hence, women tend to quit more often either for nursing their children or for other members of the family. Boyar et al. (2012) reported that due to guilt of neglecting family priorities, stress invades and provokes women to explore other options to switch or leave the work permanently.

Hill et al. (2015) emphasized that LMX eases work family conflict. Past literature has evidence of supportive behavior of leaders with respect to helping their members to manage work-life issues but Major and Morganson (2011) say that in the absence of organizational support, a high quality LMX association would make an effort to provide psychological support to the stressed employee resulting in improved work-life experiences of employed women. Hill et al. (2015) stated that LMX is in inverse relation with work-family conflict. Accordingly, we hypothesize that:

[H.sub.2]: A healthy LMX relationship would positively impact effective usage of WLB practices in the IT BPM industry.

Mediating Role of WLB: Kumar and Arora (2012) discovered that WLB and leadership are highly weighted factors that affect ER. WLB is an equilibrium state in which both employer and employee succeed in managing an enhanced job and personal life (Suifan et al., 2016). Epstein et al. (2015) mentioned that WLB studies demonstrate that supervisors' empathetic response to female juniors' care-giving tasks is definitely linked to leaders' provision for females' harnessing of versatile work flexibility policies. Employees consider their leader as a source for workplace support and therefore, they expect them to compassionately respond to their WLB issues (Hancock & Page, 2013). Such behavior is related to the leader's traits rather than the organization culture. Hence, they influence organization's WLB culture (Epstein et al., 2015). Aleksin et al., (2017) found that high grade LMX can blunt the negative results of dissatisfying WLB.

There are several ER strategies that organisation adopts (Collins, 2007) but these are short term approaches, there seems to be scant...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT