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Making the link between work life balance practices and
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Work Life Practices and Organizational Performance 1. Running head Work Life Practices and Organizational Performance. Making the Link between Work Life Balance Practices and Organizational. Performance, Work Life Practices and Organizational Performance 2. The business case for work life balance practices as espoused by many organizations. rests on attracting better applicants and reducing work life conflict among existing. employees in order to enhance organizational performance This review of the. literature provides some evidence for the claim regarding recruitment but there is. insufficient evidence to support the notion that work life practices enhance. performance by means of reduced work life conflict We suggest that the business. case may therefore need to be modified to reflect the number of additional routes by. which work life balance practices can influence organizational performance. including enhanced social exchange processes increased cost savings improved. productivity and reduced turnover The impact of these processes may however be. moderated by a number of factors including national context job level and. managerial support The importance of further research into the effects of these. practices is discussed, Work Life Practices and Organizational Performance 3. Making the Link between Work Life Balance Practices and Organizational. Performance, Despite the popularity of work life conflict as a topic of academic and. practitioner debate and the mounting prevalence of work life balance practices a k a. family supportive or family friendly policies in organizations around the world. Kersley et al 2005 US Bureau of Labor 2007 research on the organizational. effects of such practices is not well integrated Competing demands between work and. home have assumed increased relevance for employees in recent years due in large. part to demographic and workplace changes such as rising numbers of women in the. labour force an ageing population longer working hours and more sophisticated. communications technology enabling near constant contact with the workplace In. response to these changes and the conflict they generate among the multiple roles that. individuals occupy organizations are increasingly pressured to implement work. practices intended to facilitate employees efforts to fulfil both their employment. related and their personal responsibilities Rapoport Bailyn Fletcher Pruitt 2002. While there is no one accepted definition of what constitutes a work life balance. practice the term usually refers to one of the following organizational support for. dependent care flexible work options and family or personal leave Estes Michael. 2005 Hence these practices include flexible work hours e g flextime which. permits workers to vary their start and finish times provided a certain number of hours. is worked compressed work week in which employees work a full week s worth of. hours in four days and take the fifth off working from home telework sharing a. full time job between two employees job sharing family leave programs e g. parental leave adoption leave compassionate leave on site childcare and financial. and or informational assistance with childcare and eldercare services. Work Life Practices and Organizational Performance 4. Over the past two decades the outcomes of these work life practices have. been discussed in publications representing a number of different academic. disciplines economics e g Johnson Provan 1995 Whitehouse Zetlin 1999. family studies e g Hill Hawkins Ferris Weitzman 2001 Raabe 1990 gender. studies e g Nelson Quick Hitt Moesel 1990 Wayne Cordeiro 2003. industrial relations e g Batt Valcour 2003 Eaton 2003 information systems. e g Baines Gelder 2003 Frolick Wilkes Urwiler 1993 management e g. Konrad Mangel 2000 Perry Smith Blum 2000 social psychology e g Allen. Russell 1999 Hegtvedt Clay Warner Ferrigno 2002 and sociology e g. Blair Loy Wharton 2002 Glass Estes 1997 The most common approach is to. view work life balance practices through a business case lens that is by offering. these practices organizations attract new members and reduce levels of work life. conflict among existing ones and this improved recruitment and reduced work life. conflict enhance organizational effectiveness, A review of the literature however questions this purported link between. work life balance practices and organizational effectiveness The majority of studies. investigating the outcomes of work life practices do not measure work life conflict. and thus cannot support this proposed mediated relationship Eby Casper Lockwood. Bordeaux Brinley 2005 The mechanisms by which the provision of work life. practices affects both employee behaviour and organizational performance remain. unclear and under researched Allen 2001 Schutte Eaton 2004 The results of a. number of studies reviewed in this paper appear to suggest that work life balance. practices do not necessarily influence levels of employee work life conflict but. instead improve organizational performance via other routes such as reduced. overheads in the case of employees working from home improved productivity. Work Life Practices and Organizational Performance 5. among employees working at their peak hours or social exchange processes arising. from perceptions of organizational support e g Allen 2001 Apgar 1998 Shepard. Clifton Kruse 1996, This paper examines the literature to identify the various ways in which.
organizational work life practices may influence organizational performance Using a. wide range of studies from a variety of disciplines the empirical support available for. the link between work life practices and organizational performance at both the. individual and organization level of analysis is reviewed Integrating the literature in. this fashion provides us with important new insights regarding potential moderators. and mediators of the link between work life practices and organizational performance. and suggests new research questions that may further enhance our understanding of. how or if this link operates Figure 1 illustrates the relationships identified and. suggested by this examination of the literature and provides a structure for the. framework of the paper, First the paper will focus on individual level explanations for the link. between work life practices and organizational performance such as reduced work. life conflict improved job related attitudes and perceived organizational support and. use of practices Organization level explanations will then be explored such as. improved recruitment retention and productivity Within each section the literature s. major findings will be reviewed and the key implications drawn out The paper. concludes by discussing the future of work life balance practices analyzing. inadequacies in current research and identifying directions for future research. INSERT FIGURE 1 ABOUT HERE, Work Life Practices and Organizational Performance 6. Rationale for methodology, By conducting a comprehensive narrative review rather than a meta analysis. we are able to examine the different ways in which work life practices and outcomes. are conceptualized and measured in the literature and explore the theory. underpinning the results This is especially important when working in a field in. which the literature is relatively young and not especially well developed such as that. concerning the impact of work life balance practices Meta analytic techniques have. been criticized for their failure to consider heterogeneity in both subjects and. methods and have also been accused of over generalizing results and over. emphasizing quantitative comparisons of substantively different literatures Graham. 1995 Slavin 1986 These concerns are particularly relevant given the wide variety. of disciplines contributing to the work life balance practice literature the wide variety. of definitions and measurements adopted in the research and the diversity of study. participants in terms of demographic characteristics and caregiving responsibilities. Papers were selected for this review on the basis of their empirical. investigation of the outcomes of work life balance practices Relevant articles were. identified using computerized searches on PsycInfo Business Source Premier Google. Scholar PAIS International and International Bibliography of the Social Sciences. search indices No specific journals were targeted included or excluded The. following search terms were used work life work family work nonwork family. friendly and family responsive in conjunction with policy practice and benefit. childcare dependent care eldercare flexible work schedules flexible work hours. telework telecommuting and performance, Work Life Practices and Organizational Performance 7. Individual level explanations,Reduction of work life conflict.
Interference between work and non work responsibilities has a number of. negative outcomes that have been well established in the literature In terms of job. attitudes employees reporting high levels of both work to life and life to work. conflict tend to exhibit lower levels of job satisfaction and organizational commitment. Burke Greenglass 1999 Kossek Ozeki 1998 Behavioural outcomes of both. directions of conflict include reduced work effort reduced performance and. increased absenteeism and turnover Anderson Coffey Byerly 2002 Aryee 1992. Frone Yardley Markel 1997 Greenhaus Collins Singh Parasuraman 1997. Wayne Musisca Fleeson 2004 Both work to life and life to work conflict have. also been associated with increased stress and burnout Anderson et al 2002. Kinnunen Mauno 1998 cognitive difficulties such as staying awake lack of. concentration and low alertness MacEwen Barling 1994 and reduced levels of. general health and energy Frone Russell Barnes 1996 While the majority of. work life balance research focuses on employees family responsibilities there are. also a number of studies that recognize commitments to friends and community. groups expanding the affected population to virtually all employees e g. Beauregard 2006 Hamilton Gordon Whelan Berry 2006 Tausig Fenwick. 2001 The implications for organizations are clear work life conflict can have. negative repercussions for employee performance, According to the business case as espoused by many firms and government. bodies these costs to organizations can be avoided by implementing programs to help. employees manage their work life conflict e g European Network for Workplace. Health Promotion 2006 Human Resources and Social Development Canada 2006. Work Life Practices and Organizational Performance 8. This view proposes that work life balance practices will assist employees in balancing. their work and family demands which can in turn lead to enhanced employee. productivity and significant business improvements By enabling employees to. schedule their time in order to better balance competing demands from work and from. home and by helping employees to procure third party assistance with caregiving. responsibilities such practices are intended to reduce or eliminate levels of work life. conflict and thereby augment employee performance and organizational. effectiveness, There is mixed support in the literature for this proposition In a study of male. executives Judge Boudreau Bretz 1994 rated the work family policies available. to these employees and found that more comprehensive benefits were associated with. lower work to life conflict but not life to work conflict Thompson Beauvais and. Lyness 1999 also found a significant negative association between the availability. of work life practices and work to life conflict while Frye and Breaugh 2004. identified a negative relationship between perceptions of the usefulness of. organizational work life practices and work to life conflict A number of researchers. have found that use of flexible working hours is associated with lower levels of work. to life conflict Anderson Coffey Byerly 2002 Hill et al 2001 and non. directional work life conflict Lee Duxbury 1998 Saltzstein et al 2001 Thomas. and Ganster 1995 found that perceived control served as a mediating mechanism by. which family supportive policies influenced a non directional measure of work life. conflict and O Driscoll et al 2003 demonstrated that family supportive. organizational perceptions mediated the link between use of work life practices and. work to life conflict, Work Life Practices and Organizational Performance 9. On the other hand research by Blum Fields and Goodman 1994 Galinsky. and Morris 1993 and Premeaux Adkins and Mossholder 2007 found no effects of. work life practices on employees work life conflict levels Similarly Goff Mount. and Jamison s 1990 study did not reveal any association between provision of an on. site childcare centre and levels of work life conflict Providing work life practices. does not necessarily entail a reduction in levels of staff work life conflict then and. even where this is the case there is a dearth of research investigating the mediating. role of work life conflict in the link between work life practice provision and. organizational effectiveness Furthermore much of the research literature groups a. number of work life practices together when relating provision or use to attitudinal or. behavioural outcomes This only clouds the issue of whether such a variety of work. life practices can be expected to produce similar effects Ashforth Kreiner and. Fugate s 2000 work on boundary theory and role transition suggests that because. workers have different preferences for integration versus segmentation of work and. family roles certain work life practices may be ineffective in reducing inter role. conflict if they do not cater to a worker s particular values needs or preferences for. managing multiple roles For example participating in telework arrangements has. been shown to benefit some workers whereas for others particularly those with. greater family responsibilities it appears to blur the boundaries between work and. home see Hill Miller Weiner Colihan 1998 Loscocco 1997. Another issue with the existing research is that availability of work life. practices is often measured as opposed to actual use of such practices This however. brings us to another potential explanation for the link between work life practices and. organizational performance Even when the practices are not used and therefore no. reduction in work life conflict is achieved the mere presence of such practices can. Work Life Practices and Organizational Performance 10. effect a number of beneficial outcomes to the organization in the form of positive job. related attitudes We shall begin to explore these in the following section. Key implications While work life conflict is generally held to be a mediator in. the link between provision of practices and performance outcomes this proposition. remains untested Existing research designs often neglect to distinguish between. practice availability and practice use and largely fail to differentiate among work life. practices rendering it difficult to reach conclusions regarding their common or. distinct effects, Improved job related attitudes and perceptions of organizational support. With regard to job attitudes use of and satisfaction with work schedule. flexibility has been associated with increased organizational commitment and reduced. turnover intentions Aryee Luk Stone 1998 Halpern 2005 Houston. Waumsley 2003 and voluntary reduced hours have been linked to greater job. satisfaction loyalty and organizational commitment Williams Ford Dohring Lee. MacDermid 2000 A number of studies have found that employees who benefit. from childcare centres referral services and other family supportive practices report. higher levels of commitment to the organization Goldberg Greenberger Koch Jones. O Neil Hamill 1989 Grover Crooker 1995 Orthner Pittman 1986. Youngblood Chambers Cook 1984 A meta analysis by Baltes Briggs Huff. Wright and Neuman 1999 found that flexible work schedules had positive effects. on both job satisfaction and satisfaction with work schedule In a study of the virtual. office Callentine s 1995 participants attributed an increase in job satisfaction to. increased flexibility in the location and timing of their work Teleworkers in Quaid. and Lagerberg s 1992 study cited in Standen Daniels Lamond 1999 also. reported higher levels of job satisfaction In their 2007 meta analysis Gajendran and. Work Life Practices and Organizational Performance 11. Harrison found that telework was associated with increased job satisfaction and. reduced intentions to turnover with these relationships partially mediated by lower. levels of work life conflict, Availability of work life balance practices independent of actual use appears.
to produce similarly positive results in terms of work related attitudes For instance. the availability of organizational resources including flexible work hours has been. linked to job satisfaction and organizational commitment for women and for all. employees with family responsibilities regardless of whether or not these resources. are being used Nelson et al 1990 Scandura Lankau 1997 Similarly Roehling. Roehling and Moen 2001 found in a representative sample of 3 381 American. workers that the presence of flexible time policies and childcare assistance was. associated with employee loyalty for those with family responsibilities. Availability of work life balance practices has also been related to increased. affective commitment and decreased turnover intentions Chiu Ng 1999. Thompson Beauvais Lyness 1999 Wood de Menezes 2008 Grover and. Crooker 1995 found that parental leave childcare information and referral flexible. work hours and financial assistance with childcare predicted both increased affective. commitment to the organization and decreased turnover intentions among all. employees not just users of the practices, A few studies have identified moderators of the practice availability job. attitude link Kossek and Ozeki s 1999 review suggests that the provision of flexible. work hours will be positively related to organizational commitment only if employees. perceive the flexibility as increasing their control over their time Similarly Wang and. Walumbwa 2007 found that the availability of flexible work arrangements was. associated with increased organizational commitment for banking employees in. Work Life Practices and Organizational Performance 12. China Kenya and Thailand only when employees perceived their supervisors to. exhibit transformational leadership behaviours including individual consideration In. a 2008 study by Casper and Harris the impact of work life practice availability on. organizational commitment was moderated by gender and by practice use For. women the availability of work life practices had a positive relationship with. commitment mediated by perceived organizational support For men however the. availability of flexible schedules was positively related to commitment only when. men s use of this practice was high When use of flexible schedules was low the. availability of this practice was negatively related to commitment Similarly Butts. Ng Vandenberg Dejoy and Wilson 2007 found that for men the availability of. work life practices was associated with higher organizational commitment only when. perceived organizational support was high For women there was a positive link. between practices and commitment regardless of levels of perceived organizational. These results can be interpreted using social exchange theory Blau 1964. When treated favourably by the organization employees will feel obliged to respond. in kind through positive attitudes or behaviours toward the source of the treatment. Using the provision of work life balance practices as an indicator of favourable. treatment employees will reciprocate in ways beneficial to the organization. increased commitment satisfaction with one s job and citizenship behaviours The. availability of work practices designed to assist employees with managing their. responsibilities at home may also increase employee perceptions of organizational. support particularly if these work life balance practices are seen as being useful. Lambert 2000 Perceived organizational support can also be used as an indicator of. favourable treatment prompting reciprocal positive actions from employees This. Work Life Practices and Organizational Performance 13. proposition finds support in the results of Allen 2001 which indicated that. perceptions of the organization as being family supportive mediated the link between. work life practice availability and both affective commitment and job satisfaction. This interpretation is however not without criticism In the context of the. psychological contract the individual employee s subjective belief in the reciprocal. obligations between the employee and the organization Rousseau 1995 it is. possible that employees may not feel obliged to repay their organization s provision. of work life practices with an increase in positive work related behaviours or. attitudes Instead they may perceive that access to such practices is an entitlement. rather than an example of favourable treatment It is difficult to estimate the extent to. which employees construe such practices as favours versus rights Research. conducted by Lewis and Smithson 2001 indicates that perceived entitlement to such. practices is not widespread among European employees particularly those in nations. with low levels of statutory regulations concerning the balance of work with family or. personal commitments For instance study participants in Ireland and the UK did not. feel entitled to employer support for child care and perceived entitlement to flexible. hours or parental leave was contingent upon the participants view of whether such. practices were practical for the organization in terms of time operation and costs. Given the current absence of compelling data to demonstrate perceived entitlement to. work life practices therefore the social exchange explanation for the positive effects. of work life practices among non users cannot be discounted. Key implications The provision of work life practices has the potential to. generate improved attitudinal and behavioural outcomes among employees. independent of practice use While this process is widely held to occur via social. exchange research has not yet explicitly tested this proposition nor the possibility. Work Life Practices and Organizational Performance 14. that national context in the form of varying statutory regulations may moderate the. link between provision of practices and employee perceptions of organizational. Use of practices, The influence of work life practices on organizational effectiveness may be. compromised by practices that fail to achieve their intended aims An issue frequently. cited in accounts of work life practice implementation is lack of use Research. conducted amongst organizations in the UK suggests that employees often remain. unaware of their work life entitlements following the implementation of work life. balance practices Kodz Harper Dench 2002 Lewis Kagan Heaton 2000. For example in a survey of 945 employees in six different organizations across three. sectors of employment local government supermarkets and retail banking Yeandle. Crompton Wigfield and Dennett 2002 found that 50 of employees were unaware. of the family friendly practices offered by their organizations. Even when employees are fully informed of the practices available to them. many display a reluctance to use them Relative to female employees few men make. use of family leave choosing instead to take vacation or other discretionary days off. upon the birth of a child or other family related event Berry Rao 1997 Pleck. 1993 Hall 1990 refers to this as the invisible daddy track if colleagues and. superiors are not aware that an employee is taking time off work for family reasons. he is less likely to be accused of having competing priorities and less likely to be. perceived as uncommitted to his job Gender role theory may help to explain this. phenomenon In a study by Wayne and Cordeiro 2003 examining perceptions of. citizenship behaviours among male and female employees who either took family. leave or did not female employees were not rated differently regardless of their use of.


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