سیاست تعادل کار و زندگی و عمل: درک نگرش و رفتار مدیر خطی
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|18732||2010||10 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Human Resource Management Review, Volume 20, Issue 2, June 2010, Pages 158–167
Work-life balance (WLB) is receiving increasing attention in the human resource management field. Line managers are playing a more active role in HRM decision-making, including work-life balance decisions, with the devolution of human resource management responsibility. Drawing on the theory of planned behavior, this paper develops a conceptual model explaining what affects line manager WLB policy and practice behaviors and the consequent impact on employee WLB experience in their organizations. Line manager WLB policy involvement, policy awareness, perceived policy instrumentality, and personal policy utilization are variables which are proposed to impact line manager attitudes towards WLB policies. These attitudes, in turn, are proposed to affect three employee WLB policy outcomes: employee WLB policy awareness, policy uptake, and policy satisfaction. The implications for future research and practice are set out.
Work-life balance (WLB) is an important area of human resource management which is receiving increasing attention from policy makers, organizations, management, employees and their representatives globally. In the US, recent studies highlight the phenomenon of “extreme jobs” characterized by grueling working hours, unpredictable workflows, fast work pace with tight deadlines, work-related events outside business hours, and 24/7 availability to clients (Hewlett & Luce, 2006 and Hochschild, 1997). In Europe, a recent study conducted by The Boston Consulting Group and the EAPM (2007) of HR Directors across Europe, work-life balance is ranked as one of the top three challenges facing HR. In the UK, Worrall, Jones, and Cooper (2003: 3) reflect on the findings of the Quality of Working Life project and argue that “the evidence we have obtained … leads us to conclude that the increased employment instability, the intensification and extensification of work that has taken place over the last ten years is unsustainable in terms of its impact on the working and non-working lives of UK managers”. If Worrall et al.'s (2003) prediction of the deleterious impact of recent workplace changes on managers is borne out, then the effect of such changes on employee WLB should be investigated. Work-life balance is the general term used to describe organizational initiatives aimed at enhancing employee experience of work and non-work domains. Cascio (2000: 166) defines work-life balance programs as “any employer sponsored benefits or working conditions that help employees balance work and non-work demands”. Work-life balance arrangements and practices refer to initiatives voluntarily introduced by firms which facilitate the reconciliation of employees' work and personal lives. Such initiatives include: temporal arrangements that allow employees to reduce the number of hours they work (e.g. job sharing where two employees share one job, part-time working where an employee works less than a full-time equivalent); flexible working arrangements such as flexi-time where employees choose a start and finish time which matches their personal needs but work certain core hours,, tele-working/home-working/e-working where employees have locational flexibility in completing their work; work-life balance supports such as employee counselling, employee assistance programs, time management training, stress management training; and childcare facilities on-site or financial support for childcare off-site (e.g. through subsidised childcare). Essentially, work-life balance initiatives are offered by organizations to assist staff manage the demands of work and personal life ( Grady et al., 2008 and McCarthy, 2004). Work-life balance is a factor which has the potential to affect important workplace issues such as employee turnover, stress, job satisfaction, and productivity (Bloom & Van Reenen, 2006, Frone et al., 1992, Parasuraman et al., 1996, Parris et al., 2008, Thomas & Ganster, 1995 and Veiga et al., 2004). The implications of sometimes conflicting work and personal life responsibilities for people management and work structures are wide ranging (Fisher, 2000). De Cieri, Holmes, Abbott, and Pettit (2005) argue that the current highly competitive labor market, where the attraction and retention of highly valued employees is difficult, calls for greater awareness of employee work-life balance concerns. As a result, many organizations are exploring how they can help employees achieve more balance by offering a range of family or work-life balance policies and programs. To-date, much of the research in the work-life balance arena has investigated individual level work-life balance factors such as employee demands for flexible working practices (Brannen & Lewis, 2000, Coughlan, 2000 and Den Dulk, 2001), employee satisfaction with work-life or work–family policies and programs (Anderson et al., 2002 and Galinsky et al., 1996), and impact of work-life balance programs on a number of employee level outcomes such as stress, commitment and productivity (Bedeian et al., 1988, Darcy & McCarthy, 2007, Grady & McCarthy, 2008, Frone et al., 1992, Lambert, 2000 and McCarthy & Cleveland, 2005). Other research has explored how work-life balance affects performance at the organizational level (Bloom, Kretschmer, & Van Reenen, 2006). It is widely acknowledged in the WLB literature that line manager support for work-life balance is an important factor affecting employee WLB outcomes (Lapierre et al., 2008, Thomas & Ganster, 1995 and Thompson et al., 2004). Generally, employees whose line managers are more supportive of their WLB needs tend to be more satisfied with their jobs, experience less work-personal life conflict, and report lower turnover intentions. Notwithstanding the importance of line managers in WLB management, there remains a paucity of research, both theoretical and empirical, exploring how line managers enact and manage work-life balance policies and practices for their staff (Eby, Casper, Lockwood, Bordeaux, & Brinley, 2005). Given that line managers play an increasingly active role in HRM decision-making, including work-life balance decisions (Bach, 1994, Hales, 2006, McConville & Holden, 1999, Purcell & Hutchinson, 2007 and Storey, 1994), it is important to understand how line managers, who are a critical meso-level factor affecting organizational functioning in general (Hales, 2006), affect and influence work-life balance policy and practice. The definition of line managers for the current paper is that employed by Currie and Procter (2001) who note that line managers mediate, negotiate and interpret connections between the organization's institutional (strategic) and technical (operational) levels. Little is known about the factors affecting line manager support and how organizations can foster supportive WLB attitudes among line managers (Casper et al., 2004 and Eby et al., 2005). This paper aims to address this important gap in the theory by focusing on line managers in particular. The purpose of this paper is to develop a conceptual model to explain what affects line manager WLB policy and practice behaviors and the consequent impact on employee WLB experience. This paper contributes to work-life balance theory and research in two important ways. First, the work-life balance literature is reviewed with particular reference to line management's role in work-life balance policy and practice management. Given the importance of line managers in enacting HR policies such as WLB, allied with the lack of focus to-date on the exact nature of line manager support for WLB, it is necessary to shed further light on this stakeholder group within the WLB field. Second, by using the theory of planned behavior (TPB), we develop a theoretically grounded model to identify and explain a set of factors which have the potential to affect line manager work-life balance behaviors. The model not only specifies the role of several variables in predicting line manager intentions to engage in specific behaviors but also can assist in understanding how work-life balance initiatives can lead to better outcomes for employees. The value of the TPB in understanding and predicting behavior in organizations is well recognized in the management literature (Hurtz & Williams, 2009, Jimmieson et al., 2008 and McCarthy & Garavan, 2006). In terms of line managers and WLB in particular, the TPB provides a theoretical framework to identify the factors which affect line manager work-life balance management intentions and behaviors. By focusing on the line manager and applying the TPB to identify the predictors of WLB behaviors, this paper goes some way towards addressing the gap that remains in our understanding of work-life balance in organizations.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Devolution of HR decision-making to line management presents both opportunities and challenges. More active line manager involvement in HR related issues enables them to take more responsibility and have more autonomy for how they manage staff. However, the challenges presented are significant and research indicates that inconsistencies can arise in how policies are enacted. As Wise (2005) reports, line manager implementation of one specific work-life balance policy proved inconsistent across two organizations operating under the same corporate policy. This raises serious questions about how line managers enact devolved work-life balance decisions and calls for a greater understanding of how such discrepancies and inconsistencies can be avoided. Employing the theory of planned behavior as a theoretical lens, this paper provides guidance for pinpointing the critical factors that can affect line manager WLB policy and practice behaviors. The model should also assist in informing future empirical research in this area. 5.1. Implications for research A number of commentators point to gaps and deficiencies in the work-life balance research to-date. For example, Poelmans and Sahibzada (2004) criticize work–family research arguing that it has tended to explore the various phenomena at the individual or micro level of analysis. They go on to assert that “only a limited stream of research focuses on the meso-level or, more specifically, the human resource management perspective, where managers in firms make decisions based on the specific internal and external labor market contexts in which they are operate” (p. 413). We support Glynn, Steinberg, and McCartney's (2002) argument for a tripartite view of WLB incorporating the organization, the manager and the employee. Casper, Eby, Bordeaux, Lockwood, and Burnett (2007: 36) draw particular attention to this issue arguing that researchers should use hierarchical liner modeling in multi-level studies to examine effects within units and also cross-level effects. Many studies have explored WLB issues discretely at either an individual employee level or at an organizational level. This paper addresses some of these criticisms by reviewing the role of the line manager as a key meso-level actor in the work-life balance policy and practice nexus. To our knowledge, no study has employed matched datasets to illuminate important line manager influences on employee work-life balance experience at the organizational/policy, line manager, and employee levels. Future research should apply matched line manager and subordinate employee datasets to enable statistical analyses of the impact of varying line manager attitudes towards work-life balance policy on employee level outcomes. Researchers could adopt the conceptual model presented in Fig. 2 to test each of the propositions and explore which line manager variables in particular affect their WLB behavior and, subsequently, if line manager intentions and behaviors affect important employee work-life balance outcomes. Following Casper et al.'s (2004) statistical analyses approach, each of the predictor and outcome variables presented in Fig. 2 should be measured separately to establish attitudes for particular work-life balance programs. There may be differences for programs which reduce working time (e.g. part-time working and job sharing) and increase administration compared with programs that do not impact employee input (e.g. flexi-time). Likewise, locational based WLB policies may have different effects. This paper only explored line manager influences on WLB policy and practice. At present, research has not explored the cascading effects of work-life balance policy down through the various management levels to include specifically middle and first line managers. However, in larger organizations, middle managers and line managers may constitute distinct and separate groups with each having potentially different influences on WLB policy and practice. The potentially distinct and varied influences of middle management and first line management in the practice of work-life balance need to be further teased out. Research needs to examine if middle managers, who tend to operate at the meso-level in the firm (Hales, 2006) have particular influences on the enactment of work-life balance policy into practice as distinct from line managers. Hales (2006) argues that the activities and functions of these management grades are somewhat different and therefore, we need to understand how each of the stakeholders in the organizational management hierarchy influences the link between work-life balance policy and practice. We call on researchers to undertake studies that capture multi-level differences in their research design and empirical data collection methods. This might be achieved by ensuring that research designs account for stakeholders who influence the WLB policy-making process as well as line managers who affect WLB policy implementation. Researching employee level WLB outcomes without taking due cognizance of the role of middle and line managers and how they affect employee level outcomes seems somewhat remiss. We argue that, given the critical link line managers play in the WLB policy–practice nexus, researchers should ensure multi-level research designs which capture the influence of line managers. Survey-based research studies which allow for quantitative analyses of the antecedents, mediators and outcomes of WLB policies and practices would provide useful data to facilitate multi-level analyses. Further, comparative multi-site research across a range of different organizations would provide useful insight as to how line managers influence supportive WLB environments and would assist in understanding what determines effective WLB practice from the perspective of line manager behaviors. Comparative research designs would allow us to identify examples of unsatisfactory and satisfactory line manager WLB behavior in different organizations and would facilitate the development of a typology of line manager WLB behavior. 5.2. Implications for practice The case for greater line manager involvement in WLB policy decision-making is clear. McConville and Holden (1999) conclude that middle line managers are increasingly answerable to HR decisions which have largely been made without their input. They go on to highlight the problem of a lack of consistency between strategy and policy implementation as a consequence of poor knowledge of the rationale for such policies. Given insights from the theory of planned behavior, it is critical that line managers are actively involved in designing and developing policies that they will ultimately be accountable for in terms of their implementation and evaluation. Gilbreath and Benson (2004) report that supervisor behavior affects employee well-being and suggest that organizations seeking to facilitate healthier workplaces should not neglect line manager supervision practices. The finding has significant implications for the work-life balance dimension of employee well-being. The model we propose here suggests that line manager WLB attitude is determined by a range of factors and affects a number of employee work-life balance outcomes. It is important that future research empirically investigates how these factors affect work-life balance. Organizations will then be in a better position to understand how line managers impact the link between WLB policy and practice and, in turn, can undertake measures to address problems in this regard. The training of line managers in the area would be an important starting point to build awareness of WLB policies and programs, enable consistency in WLB decision-making across line managers as well as employees, and ensure effective implementation of WLB policy at the employee level. Purcell et al.'s (2003) research found that organizations that invested in interventions to improve line management behavior in a longitudinal study reported significantly better employee attitudes and performance post the improvement intervention. This bodes well for WLB attitudes and outcomes where line manager behavior is impeding effectiveness since training could be used to change and improve behavior over time. Many organizations today herald a broad range of work-life balance policies, arrangements, and initiatives. Purcell et al.'s (2003) study reports that employees tended to be more dissatisfied with existing HR policies which were ineffective rather than being dissatisfied with the absence of policies. This is an important finding which has particular relevance for the current paper. It is important to clearly establish how line managers influence the effectiveness of existing policies and practices rather than feeling the need to introduce new and different policies. While WLB policies and practices are generally viewed as positive for employees, if poorly managed, these arrangements can be problematic. Fairness in terms of employee access to and ability to engage in WLB practices is a very important issue. Some family-friendly programs can result in employees who do not have child or elder care responsibilities feeling aggrieved that their counterparts with care responsibilities are more favorably treated as a result. WLB initiatives which reduce working time such as part-time work and job sharing can create scheduling and rostering challenges for line managers and others who are expected to achieve operational targets and objectives irrespective of particular employee working arrangements. Line managers who are faced with increased administration and complexity in organizing how work is completed because of WLB initiatives may be less favorably disposed to their existence and use. This paper has argued that line managers are a critical determinant of WLB policy effectiveness. In this regard, it is clear that the role of line managers in determining the success of WLB policy effectiveness is crucial. Research indicates that generation X (those born in the mid-1960s and 1970s) and Y (those born in the late 1970s and 1980s) are unwilling to become hostages to their employers to the extent that their predecessors have been (Bennis & Thomas, 2002). The role of line managers, therefore, will need to adapt to such changes in employee commitment and expectations (Johnson, 2004). The attitudes and abilities of line managers to make such adjustments will inevitably impact on employee work-life balance experience.