Work/Life Balance Essay

1319 words - 5 pages

Work/Life BalanceSubmitted in partial fulfillment ofThe requirement for ELFH-611Fall Semester, 2004Background"Business is Better When Life is Good" was the tag line for the 2004 Work/Life Alliance Awards banquet I recently attended with a colleague, who was accepting an award for Anthem as a 2004 Work/Life Alliance Award Winner. Michael D. Shum, Director of Global Workforce Diversity Operations at IBM , was the keynote speaker at the luncheon. During his speech he claimed that substandard employee satisfaction results prompted IBM's $50 Million Global Work/Life fund, a five-year strategy in which he currently oversees for the organization. I thought to myself...how does a company arrive at such a decision? What type of return on investment (ROI) does an organization have to reap to substantiate a 50 million dollar investment? My curiosity was peaked!ResearchWhat exactly is "work/life" balance? We have all heard the term, and many of us complain that we don't have enough of it in our lives, but how does having "it" equate to individual and organizational performance? The meaning of work/life balance has varying characteristics. An important point to not overlook is that this balance has different meanings for different groups of people. Nancy Lockwood (2003), author of the article Work/Life Balance: Challenges and Solutions, introduces a new concept of "total life planning", which is a shift from past conceptions of work/life balance representing "conflicting forces". The author states this new school of thought, "Encourages employees to look at their lives as a whole and assess relationships, emotional and physical well-being, careers, spirituality, and their personal financial situation." (Lockwood, 2003)In addition, work/life balance does not only reflect the physical boundaries between home and work. A 2003 study revealed that employees are often preoccupied with work even when not working. The findings of this study confirms that work/life balance is also about one's "cognitive space" and an imbalance can result in lower job satisfaction, conflict, and burnout. (Ezzedeen, 2002)Naturally, an employer's commitment to work/life programs is influenced by the perception that such initiatives will have a positive return on investment. There appears to be several key data points for quantifying this return: Time Efficiencies, Employee Retention, Increased Motivation/Productivity, Absenteeism Rate, and Decreased Healthcare Costs and Stress-related illnesses. (Lockwood, 2003) Accommodating employees' needs for work/life balance can have a tremendous impact on an organization's bottom-line. A 2003 WFD Consulting survey revealed that, "86% of employees at Deloitte & Touche cited workplace flexibility as a strong reason for remaining with the firm, ultimately leading to savings of $27 million in turnover-related costs in 2003." (Rose, 2003)When Aon Consulting conducted a telephone interview with 1,800 workers as a part of it's America and Work study...

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