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Work-life balance for employees and managers

Work life balance article cover image by bouncegate

Executive Summary

In this report, Bouncegate has tried to highlight the concept and common approach towards overwork. Facts about the changes in modern day working style and its stress on the employees have also been mentioned here for the readers. The current era of cut throat competition is forcing employees to work harder. As a result of this, the social problems associated with workplace stress are increasing manifold. Bouncegate has further tried to demonstrate the impacts and consequences of overwork on the employed individuals.

Transparency

This report maintains a transparency about the workplace environment and its social impacts in accordance with workforce diversity as well. Overwork is one of the most significant changes to have taken place in the modern jobs. There has been a great shift in the way things have changed in our lives in the past few years. This report mentions that the current workplace has heralded into a new phase of global economy which works 24/7 and is ever demanding in terms of skills. In the “Causes of overwork” section, the researcher has input the major reasons behind overwork. This report also points out that the practice of overwork has merits as well as demerits. In some of the cases, the way employees overwork is detrimental to their health and company wide productivity.

Report organization

At the end of this report, readers will come across a number of suggestions and recommendations on sustaining work-society balance. This report has been fully studied by Bouncegate. Every attempt has been made by Bouncegate to describe the major headings of this report like what is overworking, impacts of overwork on the society and work-society balance. Other important headings of this report are causes of overwork and overwork and stress in the workplace. This report is indispensable for the employees as well as the employers.

Introduction:

Main ideas behind the preparation of this report is a critical analysis of the problems of overworking employees and its impacts on the social structure of the society. In other words, Bouncegate would also call it a critical analysis of the work-society balance. The topic was researched and split into main headings with a discussion. The discussions have gained further importance due to references from renowned authors and world-wide known electronic journal databases. These references will give the readers an interesting and a very accurate overview of the work-society balance for modern day overworking employees.

Still, there were a number of other topics that had to be understood precisely by Bouncegate to strongly support as to why work-society balance needs to be maintained by the overworking employees and what steps are to be taken by the management of the overworking employees. As the information gathered on the above mentioned issue was limited and untoward the analyzed topic, Bouncegate had to make serious effort to limit the topic to key headings and other important areas of the highest influence and the value.

What is overworking?

“Overwork occurs when longer hours per day, week, or year begin to have deleterious effects on the individual, family, community and economy. The line between work and overwork is crossed when fatigue and stress build up, often cumulatively, leading to a greater risk of mistakes, accidents, injuries, health problems, reduced quality of workmanship, and diminished productivity per hour worked.”(DeGraaf, 2003, p.30).

Overworking is one of the most common trends in the labor market these days. Its one of the few things which sends shivers down the spine of employees usually. The practice of overwork is increasing day and night due to the external as well as the internal factors of competition. By external factors, Bouncegate means competitions from other companies in the market whereas internal factors are the ones that employees have within the organization for promotions etc. Bouncegate feels that employees work overtime for pursuit of their own excellence in the organization.

Work Life balance cartoons

Work life balance cover image by Bouncegate

The practice of overwork results in competitive advantage for the employees as well as the management. However, it also results to health determent in the longer run. Bouncegate has mentioned few definitions above to highlight the ideas of some great scholars and leaders about overwork.

Bouncegate would like to call overwork as a “red button”. Its just like “…having too much to do, not enough time to perform required tasks, not enough resources to do the work well (Maslach & Leiter, 1999).

Common Approach towards Overwork:

I believe in work, hard work, and long hours of work. Men do not breakdown from overwork, but from worry and dissipation. (Charles Evans Hughes)

We often hear of people breaking down from overwork, but in nine out of ten they are really suffering from worry or anxiety. (John Lubbock)

This section highlights the fact that common perceptions about overwork vary from person to person. These perceptions about overwork are decisively important as every working individual has a different reaction towards overwork. It differs for every working employee based on their needs, grievances, wishes, lifestyle and expectations from their organization.

Intention

Bouncegate has tried to highlight the fact that the modern day approach towards overwork is beneficial in shorter terms and vice versa. In order to support this point Bouncegate has mentioned a reference below this paragraph.

“While we normally equate long hours at work with commitment, long hours are actually much more strongly correlated with increased risk for burnout – and burnout brings with it increased medical costs and lost productivity.

Overwork may lead to short term business gains but often at huge costs both to the corporation and to the individual. Looking for ways to improve efficiency and effectiveness both at the company and the team level can help reduce overwork by streamlining and eliminating non-value added tasks.”(Betty Purkey, Manager, Work/Life Strategies, Texas Instruments).

How many work hours are too many?

Most of the employees work in shifts. The companies have gone global in order to sustain themselves in the market and to keep their goodwill intact in the eyes of their clients. The workplace environment has changed drastically and as a result of it employees are asked to stretch more often.

Bouncegate would like to highlight that employees are under constant pressure because of their ever demanding and paced jobs these days. The work culture and shift duration varies geographically as well as demographically. US workers take 14 vacation days while their European counterparts average approximately 33 (Engle, 2003, cited in Murphy & Zagorski, 2005).

More Definitions

“Excessive working hours continue to be a serious problem facing individuals, their families, communities and businesses. Despite widespread recognition of the problem of overwork for more than a decade, the trend in hours worked continues upward. Large majorities of employees are articulating concern that their hours are too long. Coupled with the ongoing increase in workloads faced by many employees, stress and overload are a persistent challenge faced by companies.”(Juliet Schor)

“Three-quarters of men and women at every life stage are working more hours than they would prefer to work.”(Hertz, 2005)

Causes of Overwork in Employees

Bouncegate has tried its best to find the causes behind overwork. Some of them are organizational while others are personal causes. Organizational causes are the ones caused due to changes taking place in its external as well as internal environment. Whereas, personal causes are more of self centered issues in the lives of employees.

There are a number of reasons that contribute to this current burgeoning issue. One of the major reasons behind overwork is the globalization of economies wherein everything that employees and their organizations do is customer specific.

Globalization led to insecurity

The globalization of economies have led to job insecurity in the employees. As a result of this employees have started working for the longest hours in order to retain their jobs. Reduction in administrative support is another prominent reason behind the sudden rise of overworking tendency among the employees.

Bouncegate would now like to highlight probably the biggest contributor to overwork. Technology has advanced like ever growing mushrooms and this has forced the employees to work from their home due to their extra workload.

Personal causes

Coming down to the personal causes of overwork, the researcher feels that some parts of the employee section work overtime in order to show their loyalty and long term association. Most of the companies reward their employees monetarily on account of their extra efforts in the job. The employees work overtime in order to make as much money as they could.

Further, highly motivated employees want to move up the ladder so they invest the highest amount of hours in their job. High ambitions and their own sense of excellence in the job have led to the growing trend of overwork in the employees.

“I’m sure many of you are working more than forty hours per week. Recent layoffs have thrust huge amounts of work on employees who got to keep their jobs. In addition, survivors of layoffs are “afraid of losing their jobs and are therefore working harder and longer hours to prove their worth“.

Impacts of Overwork

Overworking is a major issue according to most of the employees. The worst impact of overwork is on health. The researcher highlights the fact that overworking causes work-related illnesses. Impacts on health include symptoms like headaches, fatigue, extreme tiredness, regular sleepiness, continuous irritability, and even panic attacks.

As a result of overwork, challenges posed to the employees are not enjoyed by them. Impacts due to higher workload seem to affect the families of the employees as well. The workload issue has far reaching negative consequences than the one visible to our eyes.

Further impacts

Other major impacts of overwork are higher stress levels and burnout, increase in health maintenance costs, decrease in organizational productivity, volunteerism and time for society that is friends and family members. Motivation levels of the employees have fallen down drastically. The practice of overwork is like “never to put ourselves above company loyalties” and being treated as company slaves. This has led to lower turnover of employees and financial crisis as well.

In some of the exceptional cases where the employees are treated as slaves, extra workload has caused heart failure and brain hemorrhages. Longer hours at the work also cause sleep deprivation. Employees are deprived of meaningful family interaction or a social life.

Work-Family Conflict

Work-family conflict has been defined as “a form of inter-role conflict in which the role pressures from the work and family domains are mutually incompatible in some respect” (Greenhaus and Beutell, 1985).

Work conflict is defined as the extent to which an individual experiences incompatible role pressures within the work domain, and family conflict is defined as the extent to which an individual experiences incompatible role pressures within the family domain (Kopelman, Greenhaus, and Connolly 1983).

In other words work family conflicts are the roles through which an individual level is measured.

Facts leading to conflict

The fact that work and family are two different physical models is another reason for conflict. The role senders at both the places (work & family) are different so it is difficult for the employees to avoid conflicts with their seniors or spouse and children. Lack of interaction and incompatible expectations are other contributors to the family conflict. Bouncegate has presented a graph below mentioning the important factors of life. Every factor needs to be given their share of time and importance in order to avoid work family conflict.

Work family conflict image by Bouncegate

Based upon the researches, it was found that there are two types of conflict.

(1) Work-to-family conflict where work interferes with the family life of employees.
(2) Family-to-work conflict where family interferes with the work life of employees.

Bouncegate has also tried to highlight the factors of conflict. Mentioned below are the factors of conflict in workplace and family environment respectively.

In Workplace Environment:

(1) Extensive, irregular, or inflexible work hours;
(2) Extensive travel; work overload;
(3) Interpersonal conflict at work;
(4) Career transitions; unsupportive supervisor or organization.

In Family Environment:

(1) Presence of young children;
(2) Primary responsibility for children;
(3) Elder care responsibilities;
(4) Interpersonal conflict within the family unit;
(5) Unsupportive family members.

Takeaway

Further Bouncegate has also found that decisions regarding the allocation of time to work and family activities are based partly on individual preferences and values. The graph depicts the same. This also seems to be one of the reasons for the work-family conflict.

work family conflict reasons image by bouncegate

What is balanced life?

Bouncegate in this section has tried to highlight the various definitions of life and what does it look like when our life is balanced? “Balance is a journey and not a destination”. “It is about enjoying life, enjoying work, spending time with family and friends, keeping healthy, playing, maintaining spirituality, and giving back to the community.” Utmost care should be taken in order to attain balance as it’s neither a magical formula nor an automatic equilibrium between work and private life. Achieving balance isn’t a static outcome. It keeps on changing over periods of time in one’s life. It also depends on the external and the internal factors in one’s life. The concept of balance is entirely personal.

Wheel of life

Bouncegate will now like to highlight the credibility of “Wheel of life” in terms with readers approach to balanced life. “Wheel of Life” is a remote tool used to know the balance ratio of one’s life. The wheel of life is a circle divided into ten different sections such as life purpose, goal setting, productivity, motivation, self awareness, communication, physical health, relationships, leadership and finances. The wheel of life determines the strengths and weaknesses of one’s life. This in turn helps the human beings to improve upon the areas that require attention.

Bouncegate feels that the concept of life balance is dynamic. This is because life is always in a constant stage of ups and downs and all the aspects of life can not be balanced at the same time.

Is it really difficult to have a balanced life

Human beings struggle a lot to balance their lives. Is it because work holism is considered a virtue these days or environment at the workplace has changed so competitively or have our expectations changed?

“Everything has been figured out except how to live a balanced life”. (Jean-Paul Sartre)

Bouncegate feels that finding time is the biggest hurdle in order to have a balanced life. It’s is neither easy to create a balanced life nor to maintain it. Balanced life is desired by every human and it’s obtainable. Balanced life comes along with some unwilling compromises. Living with balance is more tiring and more like an overworked pack horse.

Tiring pack horses

“Now here, you see, it takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that. The White Queen (Lewis Carroll).

In order to attend balance, Bouncegate advises to shift the attention from “Outer-directed” world to the “Inner-directed” world. Instead of focusing on exclusive accomplishments of others, human beings need to concentrate on things that can make them a happier and an authentic person. Inner fundamental goals have to be focused upon in order to understand what is really important to them. Bouncegate advises to reorder and relearn priorities.

At the end of this section, Bouncegate would like to highlight that the formula for having a balanced life is simple: work less and spend more time in doing what can be enjoyed.

Are the overworking employees too ambitious to have a balanced life?

Bouncegate has tried to find out the possibility of existence of ambition and a balanced life simultaneously? In other words, can the overworking employees strive for career success whilst maintaining a rewarding home life?

Most of the times steps taken to achieve a balanced life along with career success seems to be going Hayward in another direction. Men and women who value their home lives constantly struggle a lot with issues of balance. But choices have to be made on a daily basis. These choices represent daily opportunities to set priorities. Whilst setting the priorities, utmost care needs to be taken in order to maintain a balance between the work-related and personal activities.

Juggling Ambitions

“The juggling of career ambitions with a home life involves dozens of disquieting decisions. Frequently, knowledge of our Personal Priorities is of little value in these conditions because for the ambitious, success at work is truly important. It might be expressed as “to the top” or “Achieving goals or Being satisfied with my career”or even“believe my work counts.” ” (Sawi, 2000, P 54)

All the notions mentioned above translate to the fact that modern employees strive to achieve most and master the field they have chosen. Ambitious employees who want balance soon learn that they can’t make everybody happy. “N” number of compromises and trade-offs are required to maintain a balance during the career fulfillment periods. Bouncegate points out the fact that people make a lot of sacrifices in order to balance their work and society. The term “Trade-off” has been used here in place of sacrifices. Time, relationships, where you live and work, and values are not currencies reserved exclusively for the highly ambitious. Subtly or directly, anyone employed in the modern workplace is asked to make trade-offs in each of these categories.

How to Maintain Work Society Balance

Bouncegate highlights that sustaining work society balance is more important than ever before.
Readers are advised to keep in mind that maintaining balance is the key to professional and personal success. Gone are the days when the profession of employees was their most important identity. There is lot more to life than just work. Employees have now started developing elusive balance and are learning to live In Sync.

In order to maintain balance, employees now have a clear vision and understanding of what they want. Employees pursue goals that help them realize their dreams. Employees have adapted themselves practically into the mainstreams of life and this has helped them optimize their personal powers.

REVIEWING GOALS:

This method helps the employees to focus their time and energy on the most important aspects of their life and work. The reviews of goals keep the employees focused towards their important aspects.

FORMING INTENTIONS:

Employees can have a balanced life by maintaining a positive thinking towards their responsibilities and being innovative towards their family and work.

BEING ASSERTIVE:

“Assertiveness helps you to align your thoughts, communications and actions.” (Holden & Renshaw, 2002, P. 52)

Being assertive helps in fulfillment of needs and desired aspects of life. This helps in keeping focused and happy as the employees are able to fulfill their commitments.

Recommendations:

In this section Bouncegate is trying to highlight recommendations for the individual employees, managers, teams and organizations. Bouncegate would like to depict it as “Working Smarter” in order to maintain a balanced life while at work or meeting business goals.

INDIVIDUALS

Employees should regularly analyze the tasks they perform and be able to distinguish between the vital and the disposable. They should make adjustments that will their ease work pressure without significant sacrifice of quality. Vacations and Sick Time should be taken if needed. Employees should access the role-fit between their work and personal life. Setting firm boundaries between work and non-work time is also an advisable option. Interruptions and distractions should be minimized by the individuals. Individuals should insist that they are treated with respect and fairness. (From Katcher, 2003, as cited in Bates, 2003; Galinsky et al., 2005; Maslach & Murphy, 2005, as cited in Halpern & Murphy, 2005)

MANAGERS

These recommendations are meant for those individuals who work as managers. Managers need to rethink the division and workflow of labor and find out ways to achieve results without overtaxing the resources. Cross-training as both a developmental and coverage strategy is another better option. Further, managers can also provide learning and retraining opportunities to their associates. Giving the employees some choice over their work and control of their work schedule isn’t a bad recommendation either. Employees can really benefit themselves by assessing the role-fit between the job of his employees and their personal need. They should ask employees for input about management decisions. Focus should be laid on outcomes and not face time value of the employees. Other viable options are to support and encourage vacations, thank associates and recognize them publicly. Managers should also ask the employees about their workload. (From Katcher, 2003, as cited in Bates, 2003; Galinsky et al., 2005; Maslach & Murphy, 2005, as cited in Halpern & Murphy, 2005)

TEAMS

Teams need to set realistic work plans in order to determine expectations about how accessible members need to be. Every attempt should be made to reduce low value work. The team members should develop boundaries about interruptions and create solutions that meet employee, team and business needs.
Teams should establish flexible ways to get work done with the major focus on outcomes. (From Katcher, 2003, as cited in Bates, 2003; Galinsky et al., 2005; Maslach & Murphy, 2005, as cited in Halpern & Murphy, 2005)

ORGANIZATIONS

Organizations should reward leaders that effectively manage human resources and their own time toward the achievement of goals. They should disincent unproductive management behavior that encourages overwork. Performance-based culture needs to be embraced. Articulation of clear organizational values and creation of culture flexibility are also very good options. Effective ways should be established by the organizations to resolve conflicts. (From Katcher, 2003, as cited in Bates, 2003; Galinsky et al., 2005; Maslach & Murphy, 2005, as cited in Halpern & Murphy, 2005)

Conclusion:

No. 1:

Deciding to ask employees to overwork is a rather easy task for the organizations. But unfortunately, even after the extra workload hours, problems do not seem to perish. Especially in those organizations where the overtime work hours are unpaid, employers do not make a second thought in asking their employees to overwork.
“After the employees overwork, it requires a very high amount of effort, rewards, strong metrics, communications and an excellent counseling system to maintain a profitable turnover and productivity.” (Sullivan, 2001)

No. 2

The practice of overwork is more of a trend in most of the organizations these days. Employers do not have compunction in asking their employees to overwork. The employees and their organizations need to maintain a work-society balance in order to prosper continuously. Employees need to manage their pre work, workplace and post work activities. It is justified of organizations to ask their employees to work extra.

No. 3

The perils of overwork are slight compared with the dangers of inactivity (Edison, 1968) Each of the professions means a prejudice. The necessity for a career forces every one to take sides. We live in the age of the overworked, and the under-educated; the age in which people are so industrious that they become absolutely stupid.. (Wilde, 1976) We overwork because they pretend to pay us. Executive ability is deciding quickly and getting somebody else to do the work. (Pollard, 1999) Many people quit looking for work when they find a job. A lot of fellows nowadays have a B.A., M.D., or Ph.D. Unfortunately, they don’t have a J.O.B. (Domino, 1996)

What is your work in the world going to be? What will be your works? These are not fundamentally questions about jobs and pay, but questions about life.

Work is applied effort; it is whatever we put ourselves into, whatever we expend our energy on for the sake of accomplishing or achieving something. Work in this fundamental sense is not what we do for a living but what we do with our living. (Bennett, 1993)

No. 4

If you have a job without any aggravations, you don’t have a job. (Forbes, 2004) A life spent in constant labor is a life wasted, save a man be such a fool as to regard a fulsome obituary notice as ample reward. (Nathan, 1977) I have never liked working. To me a job is an invasion of privacy. (CGoorty, 1995) Researchers at Harvard say that taking a power nap for an hour in the afternoon can totally refresh you. They say that by the time you wake up you’ll feel so good; you’ll be able to start looking for a new job. (Leno, 2006)

lost in bad reports image by bouncegate

Contact Ekalavya Hansaj for further information and quotes about how Bouncegate can help you make exclusive case studies and reports like this for your company. Reports prepared by Bouncegate are of global standards.

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