Describe the current academic and professional literature may suggest that WLB is “a new area of concern, or at worst, a passing fad”, however WLB is a social focus in a period of time where it is directly affected making it of great interest and a contextual topic. The term ‘Work-Family balance’ was generated in the early 1990’s on the increased interest and discussion around the balance of work and family life, mainly associated with female employees. Originating from the Netherlands, government interest in WLB grew after record levels of sickness and absence were seen across the country (Lewis, Gambles, & Rapoport, 2007).
Work-family balance could be defined as “the shared assumptions, beliefs and values regarding the extent to which an organisation supports and values the integration of employees work and family lives” (Lewis, Gambles, & Rapoport, 2007). As time moves forward and a more gender-neutral stance is adopted through the 2000’s by organisations, the term has developed to be recognised as WLB affecting all employees regardless of gender (Maund, 2001). The same however cannot be said regarding culture; according to research by Suzan Lewis et al, in Japan “men are seen as the breadwinners”, as research goes further to highlight that men will not be expected to get more involved in domestic tasks as it is their role to generate the whole household income (Lewis, Gambles, et al, 2007).
As a practice WLB, which is now a highly discussed topic was once overlooked, and in the process failed to consider factors such as what employees need and want which could result in increased job satisfaction and productivity in and out of the workplace. By bringing this attention to the employee’s, morale can be boosted naturally by organisations demonstrating an interest into the employee’s personal life and circumstances. However some employees felt that by adopting a WLB policy provided by their organisation, that it can pose a negative effect on their progression and other career opportunities; this may result in employees seeking management whom can ‘buffer’ this factor and favour towards WLB opportunities while restricting negative connotations around flexible working (Van Villet, 2014).
A topic that was once focused around women who had children or individuals who had caring responsibilities, WLB now considers a wide spectrum of factors such as family, friends, children, communities, professions and leisure activities. To date research has been dominated by two key factors: Firstly Balance, harmony and equilibrium between work and life focuses on how an individual gains a sense of identity through the career in which they are focused, and how work and personal life are balanced focusing on the positives that are generated through such a balance. Secondly conflict or ‘interface’ focuses on the negative implications and outcomes of combining work and non-work related activities (Hill, Miller, et al, 1998).
While moving away from an individuals career providing a sense of identity and life’s meaning, work is becoming less and less central to an individuals life. Economic shifts and globalisation has resulted in employees feeling decreasingly connected or unable to directly relate to the organisation in which they work; this suggests that the search for ones identity and life’s meaning is sought after through quality of life outside of the workplace. The fact that this quality of life is usually determined by the career they have, can remain a tie (Knight, Kim, et al, 2007).
There are various factors, which create the profile of a successful retail manager however many of these are often un-noted due to the nature of the work. Many retail managers may say it takes ‘hard work and determination’ (Lusch, Dunne, & Carver, 2011); however there are many factors such as flexibility, working hours and time management which all have main connections to WLB and can be considered as direct attributes for success. Technology will ‘”alter the knowledge, skills and values we need to be capable workers and citizens” (Dede, 1989).
The retail environment can often be fast paced and stressful where organisation is a key element of daily practice. By organising daily work activities it is easier to control the balance of work and personal life which in turn can allow for managers to bare the stress load and constantly increasing pressure the retail environment provides; however with increasing expectations, pressure can eventually make balancing work and personal life difficult, usually resulting in one intruding on the other (Broadbridge, 2002). WLB is relevant as it directly reflects, “changes in the nature of work and work places that are related to global competition and trends” (Lewis, Gambles, & Rapoport, 2007).