Work-life Benefits & Employee Well-being: Role of Perceived Organizational Support & Self-efficacy.

AuthorTripathi, Padma


Kanter (1977) proposed that work and family in the business context are two different domains. This does not seem to be the reality today. The quest to retain talent has led organizations to focus beyond the performance outcomes, and pay attention to the factors like physical, social and psychological well-being of employees. Researchers in the field of organizational behavior are increasingly focusing on organizations and employees with a positive perspective (Luthans, 2002). There is a need to examine the role of WLBPs on purported outcomes like positive employee attitudes and behavior. Although HR practices are relatively good predictors of company performance, it is difficult to grasp the direct link between HR practices and employee well-being (Vanhala & Tuomi, 2006). This study investigates the link between perceived work-life benefits and policies (WLBPs), and employee well-being. The 'investment-in-employee' approach is proposed to send out signals to employees that the organization values them and cares for their well-being. Baptiste (2008) found that well-being of employees resulted from HR practices that include elements of support and trust. The current study would examine the role of perceived organizational support (POS) in influencing employee wellbeing at work place. Obligation to give back to organization without a belief in one's ability to bring about desired outcomes, can at times, lead to feelings of inadequacy and stress (Schaubroeck& Merritt, 1997). Therefore, it is necessary to understand the role of POS and self-efficacy in the link between benefits provision and well-being of employees, which has not been adequately addressed in the literature.

Literature Review & Hypotheses Development

Over the years, organizations have focused increasingly on ways to enhance employee contribution at workplace. In the quest to increased productivity, employee well-being emerged as a major area of concern as organizations realized that unmitigated work demands or certain work-related aspects can lead to depletion in employee resources and eventual burnout. Well-being has been discussed as a multidimensional construct encompassing psychological, social as well as physical well-being. Authors have used terms like well-being, flourishing, happiness, and thriving interchangeably, although, all try to convey similar meanings. Warr (1987) defined a 'Vitamin model' of well-being with ten antecedents. These were reported to be "opportunity for control, opportunity for skill use, variety at work, opportunity for interpersonal contact, externally generated goals, environmental clarity, availability of money, physical security and a valued social position. Some other theories focus on 'hedonic' well-being (related to pleasure and emotion), some on eudaemonic (i.e., happiness and wellbeing) and certain others talk about a blend of both these domains (Ryan & Deci, 2001). Subjective well-being (SWB) research focuses on how and why people experience their lives in positive ways (Diener, 1994). While general well-being is a broad term and covers multiple domains of an individual's life, the focus of this paper is specifically on the well-being of employees at their work-places. We have measured wellbeing at work using the PERMA model of flourishing developed by Seligman in 2011 in which he proposed five pillars of well-being, namely, positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishment (PERMA).

Well-being is thus a resultant of multiple aspects at workplace, and we are trying to study how the provision of benefits and policies aimed at work-life domains impact it. It has become a trend among organizations to formulate HR policies that claim to support the worklife balance aspirations of employees. But, the pathways from policies and provisions to the outcome is still unclear as earlier studies have demonstrated. Some studies have shown that WLBPs hold meaning only for those employees for whom maximum likely benefits can be attained (Rau & Hyland, 2002). While some other studies suggest that WLBPs appeal even to younger generation of employees and influences their career decisions (Casper and Buffardi, 2004). Studies based on Bakker and Demerouti's (2007) JDR model reported that availability of resources in the form of right HR practices like job autonomy, social support, opportunities for growth and learning, and proper feedback, result in lower physical discomfort and enhanced well-being as well as performance (Schaufeli et al., 2009). More recently, Rama Joshi and J.S. Sodhi (2011) examined the common drivers of employee engagement in Indian organizations. Data from over 40000 executive and non-executive employees brought to light the role of work-life balance as an important contributor to employee engagement and well-being.

Provision of work-life benefits aims to enhance employee well-being by aiding employees in managing their work and family responsibilities efficiently. As per Fredrickson's (2004) 'broaden and build' theory of positive emotions, provision of work-life benefits would signal employees that their organization cares about their well-being as persons. In contrast, some studies found that work-life benefits are not related to perceived organizational support (Wayne et al., 1997). Hence, the relationship between work-life benefits and employee attitude and behavior remain unclear (Casper & Buffardi, 2004; Kossek & Ozeki, 1998). Muse et al (2008) related the use and perceived value of work-life benefits to important attitudinal and behavioral outcomes of employees. Providing work-life balance to employees enhances well-being, and reduces stress and burnout thereby benefitting the organizations (Parkes & Langford, 2008). Therefore, we propose the following hypothesis.

Hypothesis 1 (H1): Perceived WLBPs will be positively related to employee well-being.

Relationship between WLBPs & POS

Kossek(1989) examined the acceptance of innovations in HRM practices in large corporates, and reported that those HR innovations were better accepted by employees that gave them the signal that organization cares for not just performance, but also their well-being. When organizations provide assistance to employees in need, it symbolizes concern for employees and positively influences organizational attachment (Grover & Crooker, 1995). The relation between provision of WLBPs and well-being seems to be influenced by what employees perceive to be supportive of their requirements at work as well as family fronts. Therefore, we propose that provision of WLBPs influence employee outcomes when they perceive a sense of organizational support due to their availability.

Hypothesis 2 (H2): Perceived WLBPs will be positively related to perceived organizational support.

Relationship between POS & Employee Well-being

Social exchange theory (Blau, 1964) states the conditions under which people feel the obligation to reciprocate when they benefit from somebody's actions. Research studies have examined different ways in which employees respond to the organization's policies (Emerson, 1976). It is found that "positive, beneficial actions directed at employees by the organization or its representatives, contribute to the establishment of high quality exchange relationships that create obligations for employees to reciprocate in positive, beneficial ways" (Settoon et al., 1996). Rhoades and Eisenberger (2002) reviewed 70 studies and found that positive organizational support was related to fair organizational procedures, rewards, supervisor support, and job conditions, which then led to positive outcomes at both individual as well as organizational levels such as reduced withdrawal behavior, increased commitment, and increased performance. A systematic review of POS conducted by Baran et al. (2012) analyzed 249 studies and reported that employee well-being was the primary theoretical theme associated with POS. Therefore, we propose the following relationship between POS and employee well-being:

Hypothesis 3 (H3): POS will be positively related to employee well-being

Relationship between POS & Self-efficacy

According to Blau's (1964) Social exchange theory, the relationship between an organization and an individual is reciprocal or bi-directional exchange. Although, there is obligation to reciprocate to the support given by organizations, it is not absolute. The translation of environmental support into outcomes like performance, commitment, loyalty, well-being etc. is proposed to be influenced by self-influence aspect of an individual. The...

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