The gap between availability & expectations of work-life practices.

AuthorBansal, Nidhi
PositionReport - Abstract

Introduction

"Work-life balance (WLB) is an individual's perception of how well his or her life roles are balanced" (Haar, Russo, Sune, & Ollier-Malaterre, 2014). WLB is an important issue for researchers as well as for organizations (Adame-sanchez, Gonzalez-cruz & Martinez-fuentes, 2016). The growing attention towards work-life balance is the result of changing technological, societal, economic and demographic environment (Sverko, Arambasioe, & Galesioe, 2002). Increasing work stress, absenteeism, turnover and increasing demand for WLB have compelled organizations to provide work-life balance practices (WLBPs) to solve work-life issues of their employees. Kossek, Valcour & Lirio (2014) defined WLBPs as "comprehensive, multifaceted organizational interventions designed to foster a healthy psychosocial work environment by preventing stressors in the organization of work that can lead to work-family conflict". WLBPs can be organized into three major categories, policies, benefits and services.

In a report by Forbes Insight (2011), 97% of companies surveyed stated that, despite organizational interventions, women are not staying in IT workforce. NCWIT (2015) reported that 57% of women leave the IT workforce within the first five years of their career. The reason for this may be the gap between the expectation of women and interventions provided by the organizations. Whilst policy initiatives can be effective in helping employees to reconcile dual roles, many individuals still resolve these issues at the individual or personal level and feel that policy has not impacted on their lives in any tangible way. Thus, it is pertinent to study the expectations of employees regarding WLBPs and gaps that exist between the employee's expectations and availability of these practices. Most studies on work-family programs and work-family conflicts have been conducted in Western countries (Canada, UK, USA) where such programs are more widespread, with relatively few studies in emerging economies such as in Asia and Africa (Greenhaus & Parasuraman, 1999; Poster & Prasad, 2005).Research on WLB practices is scant, and more research is needed (Haar & Spell, 2004; Prottas, Thompson, Kopelman& Jahn, 2007). The present study is addressing this gap by adopting the grounded theory approach for understanding Indian employee's perception on WLBPs. This study also collected information from secondary data to identify different practices provided by Indian organizations to enhance WLB of their employees.

Objective of the Study

The research objectives are:

* To explore existing WLBPs in different organizations.

* To compare the practices available in Indian organizations with employees expectations regarding the same.

Extant Literature on WLBPs

The extant literature shows that most of the (50%) of employees are unaware of the WLBPs offered by their organizations (Crompton, Yeandle & Wigfield, 2002) and who utilize WLBPs are seen as less committed, thus negatively impacting their appraisal, promotion and increment (Allen, 2001). The outcomes of these work-life practices have been discussed in previous studies: the availability of work-life practices has a negative relation with work-to-life conflict (Anderson, Coffey & Byerly, 2002; Hill, Hawkins, Ferris & Weitzman, 2001; Thompson, Beauvais & Lyness, 1999), and turnover intentions. It has positive relation with organizational commitment (Aryee, Luk & Stone, 1998; Halpern, 2005; Houston & Waumsley, 2003) and job satisfaction (Beauregard & Henry, 2009). It also results in increased job performance and financial gains (Joshi et al., 2002).

Baral & Bhargava (2011) studied HR interventions for WLB in India and suggested that these policies and practices are more prominent in new economy organizations such as software and services organizations. They also concluded that there is still a long way to go when WLBPs will become strategic HR initiatives in most organizations. Gunavathy (2011) also studied WLB interventions prevalent in Indian industry and suggested that there is a need for organizations to adopt human resource strategies and policies that accommodate the work-life needs of their employees. He also found the sector wise differences in work-life balance provisions. Rajadhyaksha (2012) used a qualitative approach (case studies and interviews with HR managers) to study WLB issues in India and found that commonly offered WLBPs in Indian organizations address gender equality, flexibility, stress reduction, health awareness and childcare.

Methodology

To understand the employees perspective on WLBPs the grounded theory methodology given by Strauss & Corbin (1990) was adopted. The sample comprised 21 dual working parents using theoretical sampling (Table 1). Semi-structured interviews were conducted. We included participants from various sectors to gain insights in to variety of practices provided by different organizations. All interviews were recorded and converted into verbatim. The content analysis was done to identify the views of respondents regarding WLBPS. In the interviews respondents were asked following questions:

  1. What are the different WLBPs adopted by your organization?

  2. Do you think that your organization genuinely support to avail WLBPs?

  3. What do you expect from your organization to manage your work-life?

Secondary data also have been collected from various sources like news papers (Times of India, The Economic Times), company websites and other survey websites (Glassdoor.com, great place to work) to identify various practices provided by different organizations to support employees for managing their worklife.

Findings from Secondary Data

Secondary data suggest that organizations are now realizing the importance of providing WLBPs to themselves and to enhance WLB of their employees. Still there is a long way to go to realize and implement the WLBPs among Indian organizations. Analysis of secondary data also suggests that, while comparing WLBPs provided by MNCs and other organizations, MNCs give more attention towards taking care of work-life of their employees as compared to traditional organizations in terms of providing flexibility, innovative work-places etc. Table 2 gives the details of WLBPs provided by various organizations.

The need for qualitative study was felt while doing secondary analysis of WLBPs as even though many organizations are providing assistance to their employees for managing their work-life but still employees feel difficulties in managing work-life issues and perceive that their organizations are not supportive of their work-life integration.

Findings from the Qualitative Study

Nature of Leave: Respondents believed that availability of different kinds of leaves make them able to solve work-life problems. Organizations provide different kinds of leaves (like maternity leave, child care leave, and special leave etc.) to their employees to help them in managing worklife. But analysis suggests that only few organizations provide such leaves (special leaves, child care leave etc.). Most of the organizations provide leaves which are mandatory in law. This gives sense of inequality among employees. Some respondents perceive that the number of leaves they are getting is very less and not sufficient to fulfill their work-life needs. They expect more leaves from their organizations. For example, one respondent stated: "We should have leave on our special days like anniversary and birthday of our child, so that we are able to celebrate our special days. Some organizations already provide these to their employees. Why our organization can't?" (T1)

It was also found that if they avail certain kinds of leaves it negatively affects their...

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