Modern work place has experienced tremendous changes as employers seek to maintain a motivated, productive and efficient workforce. As a result of this employers have shifted their focus on coming up and implementing strategies in aimed at meeting the rising demands of employees. Among the changes that have been of central focus include introduction concepts such work life flexibility and work-life balance. These have emerged as a result of concerns with the amount of time that employees spend at the workplace versus the time spent away from the workplace (Adkins, 2016). Work-life flexibility is a concept which refers to an arrangement where employees decide on adopting working conditions that suit them in order to maintain and improve their productivity and efficiency. It allows employees to have a flexible work schedule. Work life balance, on the other hand, refers to a concept that involves giving priority to both employees work and lifestyle which include aspects such as spiritual development, family, leisure, pleasure, and health. While previously there has been more focus on work-life balance, the trend has shifted towards work-life flexibility in the present time with this anticipated to be the trend for the future. This paper will focus on the implications of this trend for the employees, Human resource management practice as well as managers and leaders.
Implications of Work Life Flexibility For Employees
Employees are likely to be affected by this trend. Employees have had to spend most of their time away from their families, sacrifice their valuable time for other activities in order to attend to their work. This has not only hand impact on their relationships with their families but also with their personal well-being. With the realization of the integral role that employees play in organization success changes at the workplace have been focused on the employees. It has been found out that employees become more productive and engaged in their work if they are able to balance their work demand with other aspects of their lives. The focus towards work-life flexibility is focus towards the realization of this demand. There are various impacts for this shift on the employees (Aguinis,2014).
Schedule flexibility is a work arrangement where an employee’s work can be scheduled. An example of schedule flexibility includes homeworking which is a concept that involves working from a premise other than the working palace. An employee can choose to work from their home or any other place that is not their official setting. Work-life flexibility is expected to shift the focus on employees having to work from an office setting to working from other premises such as their homes. Other types of schedule flexibility include flextime, shift work, part-time schedules, compressed work week and job sharing (Cokins, 2013).
Workplace stress has been defined as the harmful emotional and physical responses that happen as a result of a conflict between the demand of particular job and the amount of control that an employee has over meeting these demands (Hope & Player, 2012). Some of the aspects that have been attributed to workplace stress include long working hours, tight deadlines, lack of autonomy, heavy workload and inflexible schedule. However, with more focus shifting towards work flexibility employees are expected to have more autonomy over their work as well as be able to deal effectively with these stress factors. Flexible work schedules will facilitate reducing of employees stress because it will increase job satisfaction; improve employee’s satisfaction with their lives and enable them to balance between their work and another aspect of their lives (Haerifar,2011). This is also expected to improve employee’s engagement and improve their overall health.
Improved work-life balance
Work life balance refers to the ability of individuals to balance between their work and non-work responsibilities. This has been a major headache for many employees as most have had to forego a lot of their non-work responsibilities because of the demands of work responsibilities. Among the implications of work life flexibility on the part of employees is that they will have sufficient time, well being and energy to undertake other activities that promote their personal growth and enrichment. It has been found out that work-life balance results in fewer health problems, enables employees to be more attentive and lowers employee burnouts. Operating under flexible circumstances is therefore expected to bring about work-life balance for the employees (Sahu,2007).
Improved work and family balance
There are two dimensions involved in work and family balance which are the interference of work on family and the interference of family on work. These have been great importance on employees as it is one of the areas that has and continues to affect them. The traditional work arrangement requires employees to be at work from morning to evening seven or five days a week has left employees with little time for their families. The impact of this has been that employee’s family situations have had an impact on employee’s performance and attitude towards work. At the same time, job and family characteristic have had a negative impact on family life. Work life flexibility will, therefore, contribute towards maximizing work-family balance which will benefit both the employee and the employer which will not only benefit the employee but also their employers. It has been found out that flexible work schedules greatly contribute to reducing work-family conflicts especially for female employees besides providing employees with an opportunity to reduce work-family conflict (Hope & Player,2012).
Better physical and mental well-being
Research has found out that a flexible work schedule that provides an employee with more control and choice can have a positive impact on their general health and well-being. Some of the health conditions that have been attributed to low work-family openness and creativity include cardiovascular diseases and less sleep. Work-life flexibility is therefore expected to bring about better physical and mental well being of the employees (Smither & London, 2009).
Employees will need to develop their problem-solving and decision-making skills to enable them to work effectively even when they will be way from the office. They will also be required to possess the necessary technological competence because much of their working will involve the use of technology
Implications For Human Resource Management
Flexible work life will come with both advantages and disadvantages for human resource management departments. In order to deal effectively with remote employees, Human resource management will need to be diversified to improve new strategies aimed at making the process more effective training.
Video conferencing allows two people in different locations to communicate via audio and visual transmissions; among the changes that will be experienced in the HR function will be the adoption of video conferencing as the main strategy of communicating to remote employees. This will be achieved through either the use of Skype, Google Video Chat, Telepresence or mega meeting to allow face to face contact with remote employees at times when there will be serious matters to discuss with them. Video conferencing will replace the traditional workplace meetings (Shane & Shane, 2008). Video conferencing will help convey both body language, facial expression, and tone of which are important for effective communication. HR department will rely on video conferencing to offer training and support to their employees as well as pass important information regarding employee’s performance.
360-degree performance appraisal
This is an appraisal technique that involves giving feedback to employees by gathering important input from clients and workers who work directly with them. It will be important for remote employees to be given valuable feedback to facilitate an understanding of how their effectiveness is viewed by others.
Maintaining company security
Company security is one significant area that organizations lay much focus on. Any security threat to an organization’s important information can be a major area of concern for organizations. With work flexibility that allows employees to work from remote areas, company security can be an area of concern for organizations. By allowing employees to access company information from outside and organization, it will be necessary to install additional protection to employee’s personal computers and servers to facilitate monitoring of information as well as restricting access to outsiders. Flexible working will also be used as a strategy for improving employee job satisfaction (Smither & London, 2009).
Implementation of clear policies on hours of work
Flexible working can present serious challenges to the human resource management function especially in terms of the number of hours worked by an employee. Among the situations that can be experienced in a situation where there is work flexibility is a situation whereby employees will skip work because they had worked the previous day, Conflicts on overtime hours which are not recorded, among other situations. To avoid such situations it will be necessary to have clear and effective HR policies (Daniels,2014).
Transformation of employee training and development
Flexible working arrangements will see the rise of technology-enabled employee training and development opportunities such as seminars training meetings, online learning .teleseminars other techniques. This means that the traditional training and development strategies used in the workplace are likely to cease being used
Implications For Leaders and Managers
Work-life flexibility is not only expected to have implications for employees and Human resource management but also employee managers and leaders. Manager Are tasked with the responsibilities such as staffing, organizing, coordinating, controlling and planning. Planning is the process which involves defining of goals and determining the most effective strategy to achieve them. Organizing is concerned with the designating of tasks and responsibilities to employees after identification of the specific skills needed to perform those tasks (Pulakos, 2009).
Planning ahead of time
As flexibility becomes more prevalent, so will be the need to plan ahead of time. Flexibility also comes with its risks. When employees work on the basis of flexible schedule sometime they may fail to meet certain targets beyond their control. In such situations, it is necessary to plan ahead so that such instances are addressed without many challenges.
Adoption of management by objectives
Management by objectives is also likely to be widely used by managers to monitor employee’s performance. Management is a model of management whose focus is on improving performance by establishing and agreeing upon particular objectives to be achieved by the employee. Objectives are mutually agreed upon between the employee and the manager or leaders. As employees become more autonomous leaders will focus more on the use of management by objectives to ensure that employee’s high level of performance is maintained (Daniels,2014).
Building high levels of trust on employees
Managers will also need to build more trust in their subordinates as a strategy of improving theory productivity. Showing employees that you trust them can make them more productive even when they are working on their own.
Adoption of a leader member exchange program
This strategy is concerned more with the relationship that exists in a leader and each individual employee. It deviates from focusing on the relationship between a group and a superior. This strategy is likely to be the main area of focus as we move forward. This strategy has its central focus on developing effective exchanges between leaders and each of their subordinates in order to positively impact subordinates decisions, responsibility and access to resources and performance (Cokins, 2014). It involves building relationships based on trust and respect and an emotional attachment that goes beyond the normal employment relationship. The strategy has among other benefits, the benefit of promoting organizational effectiveness and positive employment experiences. This strategy will be expected to promote positive relationships between the employee and the employer to facilitate the necessary support.
In conclusion, the modern workplace has continued to encounter tremendous changes dealing with the management of employees. These changes have not only presented opportunities but also challenges. Wok life balance has been the area of central focus by employers as they the continue to try satisfying the needs of their employees, However, there seems to be more focus on work-life flexibility which is concerned with balancing employee’s work life and other aspects of their lives. This has been identified as the current and future trend on which many organizations will base their strategies. However, a number of implications related to work-life flexibility have identified for both employees manager, as well as Human Resource Management. For the employees, the strategy will bring about new ways of working such as home working where employees will be working from their homes. It will also bring about other impacts such as facilitating in the improvement of the general well-being of the employees facilitating a balance between work and other personal life among others. For human resource management, it will necessitate changes in the strategies that are used to manage employees in the traditional workplace setting. It is evident that work-life flexibility will have wide reaching implications.
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