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Striking a Work-Life Balance in America

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Jeff Zod is an avid reader, writer and researcher. He enjoys exploring new and old concepts.

Woman working on  a laptop

Woman working on a laptop

Mary is a 35 year old mother of two. She works as a secretary at a local start-up company, where she works a 9 to 5 job from Monday to Friday, and sometimes during the weekend. Her children are 5 and 12 years respectively. This week she is supposed to take her 5 years old daughter to a dentist appointment on Wednesday and further attend her 12 year old son’s soccer game on Friday.

Mary finds it hard to balance between her life commitments and her work duties. This problem is common in most American households. In the United States of America, full-time working men spend an average of 8.35 hours in the workplace, while women spend close to 7.4 hours (Poulose & Sudarsan, 2018). Amongst employed adults, 33% work on an average Sunday, Saturday or during the holiday. This has led to 66% of employees to indicate that they lack work-life balance (Poulose & Sudarsan, 2018).

These statistics point to the fact that increased standards of living has forced Americans to take up odd jobs and work through odd hours, making it hard for them to balance between work and family life (Bowen, 2013). One of the solutions towards work-life imbalance has been flexible work-schedule. Work flexibility does not only imply variation in place of the job and time, but also sharing of career breaks (paternity/maternity leaves), jobs, term-time, and part-time working.

Flexible work schedule as a solution to work-life imbalance has been debatable as those opposing it have argued out that it blurs the line between work and leisure time, since employers would not feel guilty calling an individual at night for an assignment. However, those who see it as a solution have indicated that if planned well, it can help in balancing both work and family life. Adopting a flexible work schedule can lead to a positive work-life balance, impacting both productivity at work and a healthy family relationship.

Flexible work balance is not a solution

Opposing views indicate that flexible work-schedule is not a solution to work-life imbalance. According to Braun et al (2018), flexible work-schedule tends to blur the line between work and leisure time. When one adopts a flexible work schedule their managers or employees would feel entitled to call them at any time of the day even at night for an assignment. The employer would feel entitled as they would see that they are doing the employee a favor.

Kossek & Lautsch (2018) adds that flexible work schedules further puts an employee under pressure as they have high responsibility, which is bad for work-life balance. An individual must chose the work schedule that they are comfortable with and they must ensure that they cover the work that they were supposed to do during their regular work time. Individuals must also ensure that they come up with a schedule that would fit their work description. It would be easier for an individual to follow the schedule of the work place, and find his or her own time to carry out his or her family obligation.

Refutation of opposing views

Although the opposing views are sensible, the problems that are brought about by flexible work schedule can be avoided. Before an individual picks up the work schedule that they will adopt, they must consult with their employers and ask them if they are comfortable with them. An individual should arrange a meeting with their employer and persuade them why they want to adapt a flexible work schedule (Nicola, 2014). One should further convince their employer that the flexible work schedule that they want to undertake will not in any way stop them from delivering on their duties.

Through the above, the employer will be aware of the times an individual will be carrying out office or organization’s assignments, and when they will not be available. Through this, an employer will not call the employee at any time they want, as they will be accustomed to the program that the employee has undertaken (Nicola, 2014). Furthermore, an employee will not have the burden of creating his or her own flexible schedule as he or she will consult with the employer on the perfect schedule to undertake.

Work-life imbalance has a negative impact on both the family and work as 50% of workers have indicated that they have less time for their families due to work, 60% of workers have indicated that they have poor morale due to work burnout, and 36% have reported poor production due to imbalances in their lives (Braun et al., 2018). Due to this a solution that helps balance between work and leisure is important.

Flexible working schedule aids in creating a balance between work and life as individual is able to plan on the way they carry their work in a way that it does not affect their life. Adopting a flexible working schedule helps an individual carry out their work and life duty without one affecting the other.

Flexible work schedule help in creating a work-life balance to an employee as it gives an individual more time to carry out their leisure and family duties. To begin with, it leads to more family time. Through flexible work schedule an individual can spend more time with his or her family. Flexible work schedule arrangement allows an individual to spend more time with the family as they create a schedule that allows them to have more family time (Shagvaliyeva & Yazdanifard, 2014).

For instance, in Mary’s case she can arrange a schedule that makes her arrive at work early and leave a bit earlier than five. She can arrive at work at 7 am and leave at 12 pm, allowing her to go for her son’s soccer game and also take her daughter to her dentist appointment (Abid & Barech, 2017).
Parents need time with their children in order to monitor their growth (Bowen, 2013). One of the primary roles of a parent or a guardian is to ensure that their children grow to be healthy adults

An individual who has work-life imbalance, especially one who has no time for their families will not be able to monitor their children’s growth. One culture that has grown in the United States has been the hiring of nannies (Abid & Barech, 2017). Although hiring nannies is not a negative thing, when a parent leaves every responsibility to a nanny, a child becomes attached to the nanny and not to the parent or guardian (caregiver).

According to the attachment theory, in order for a child to be healthy, they must be attached to at least one care giver. The adoption of flexible work-schedule help in solving this problem as a parent will be able to take shifts that enables him or her to not only bond with the child, but to also be an active teacher ensuring that the child picks up the character or virtues that they want.

Adding to the above, when the parent is too busy to look after their children, they might end up adopting habits that they either watch on the television or from others around them. In the world today, parents need to monitor what their children watch, as there are programs that are not appropriate for individuals of a certain age, watch their interaction with the technology especially phones and computers, watch the food they eat, and also ensure that they have enough play time outside in order to protect them from avoidable lifestyle diseases such as obesity (Bowen, 2013). Flexible work schedule allows a parent to undertake these roles as they will have enough time to carry out their parental duties as they will be more flexible.

The second benefit that flexible work schedule has to an individual is that it allows one to have more time to carry out leisure activities. Flexible work schedule is beneficial to an individual as they are able to carry out their hobbies. Working for long hours can lead to stress and fatigue, which affects the productivity of an individual both at work and at home (Saxena, 2018). Work-life balance is not only limited to work and family, but it also encompasses one’s personal time.

Through flexible work schedule for instance working from home, one can create a schedule that allows them to carry out their hobbies such as swimming or even playing video games. This helps an individual to relax especially after doing a tasking duty. This helps one to stay stress free and also not miss out on other important areas of life due to their job.

Advantages to an individual’s work

Flexible work schedule is not only advantageous to the family aspect of life, but also positively benefits the work aspect of an individual. Work life imbalance can make one to be unproductive at work. When one is overwhelmed with work they might be unable to carry out their family duties, which might lead to stress that might affect their productivity % (Poulose & Sudarsan, 2018). For instance, in Mary’s case, the stress of not taking his daughter to the dentist appointment might affect her from carrying out her office duties.

Flexible work schedule is beneficial to an employee’s work life as it increases employee morale. Since flexible work schedule makes an individual feel like he or she has control over his or her work environment and schedule, their morale will be high as their entrepreneurial spirit will be off the roof % (Poulose & Sudarsan, 2018). In addition to this, employees will have the psych to finish their assignments and other work related duties on time in order for them to find time for their other obligations.

Moving on, flexible work schedule allows an individual to work when they feel fresh allowing them to accomplish the most. It was traditionally believed that individual who arrived at work the earliest were the ones who accomplished the most, but this has not been proved. Flexible work schedule allows an individual to work when they feel the freshest (Poulose & Sudarsan, 2018).

For instance, after one has rested or has carried out their hobbies, for example after a swim, they might decide to execute their office tasks. At this time, an individual will be fresh and full of ideas. As compared to one who is confined in a 9 am to 5 pm office environment, an individual who undertakes a flexible work schedule can work on an office project when they are less fatigued.

Related to the above, flexible work schedule helps in the prevention of employee burn out. When an employee feels like he or she is tired they can take a break without the boss scolding them. This will make an employee to be less prone to errors. Working when one is fatigued is linked to errors as an individual works at less than 100% (Poulose & Sudarsan, 2018). Adopting flexible work schedule enables an employee to avoid burn out and to work only at times that they are at their best.

Conclusion

In conclusion, work-life balance is important as it enable one to accomplish both their work and life responsibilities. 66% of Americans have indicated that they do not have a work life balance, which is dangerous especially on the family aspect of life. A parent or a guardian who has work-life imbalance especially one who works for long hours is prone to abandon some of his or her family obligations including taking their children to a dentist appointment.

One of the solutions towards work-life imbalance is flexible work schedule. Those opposing this strategy have argued out that it blurs the line between work and life as an employer can call an employee any time they want. They have also indicated that an employee has added responsibility of delivering on the schedule, which is not good for work-life balance.

However, when an employee approaches their employer to discuss the work-life balance they are to adopt, these challenges will be solved. Flexible work schedule is beneficial to both the work and life aspects of an individual as it enables one to carry out his or her family duty, carry out their leisure activities, avoid burnout, and work when they are at their freshest.

References

Abid, S., & Barech, D. K. (2017). The Impact of Flexible Working Hours on the Employees Performance. International Journal of Economics, Commerce and Management 7 (1), 1-17
Bowen A. (2013). The Importance of family quality time for families and children with special health care needs.. Wyoming Family to Family Health Information Center. Pdf.
Braun, B. J., Fritz, T., Lutz, B., Röth, A., Anetsberger, S., Kokemohr, P., & Luketina, R. (2018). Work-Life-Balance. Der Chirurg, 1-4.
Poulose, S., & Sudarsan, N. (2018). Work life balance: A conceptual review. IJAME.
Kossek, E. E., & Lautsch, B. A. (2018). Work–Life Flexibility for Whom? Occupational Status and Work–Life Inequality in Upper, Middle, and Lower Level Jobs. Academy of Management Annals, 12(1), 5-36.
Nicola D. (2014).The work-life balance. Nursing Standard 29 (2), 63-63. doi: 10.7748/ns.29.2.63.s51
Poulose, S., & Sudarsan, N. (2018). Work life balance: A conceptual review. IJAME.
Saxena, R. (2018). Achieving Work Life Balance through Flexible Work Schedule: A Conceptual Study. Asian Journal of Management.
Shagvaliyeva, S., & Yazdanifard, R. (2014). Impact of flexible working hours on work-life balance. American Journal of Industrial and Business Management, 4(1), 20.

© 2019 Jeff Zod

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