Human Resource

Essay On Flexibility And Work-Life Balance

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Assignment Criteria

Objectives 

This assessment item relates to course learning outcomes numbers, 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 as stated in the  course profile. 

Purpose 

The primary purpose of this assessment task is to assist students develop skills in the application of  Human Resource Management (HRM) principles, work-life balance theories and models in the  analysis of the present and future role of the HRM function in organisations. The assessment task  encourages exploration of the effectiveness of the HRM functions (work-life balance, flexible work  arrangements etc.) in dynamic environments and how that effectiveness should be evaluated. 

The secondary purpose of this assignment is to give students the opportunity to enhance their research,  analysis, critical thinking and written communications skills including the identification and  development of an argument. 

Before starting this assessment, please read the marking criteria (at the end of this document) and refer  to Academic Learning Centre and CQU Library Help pages for the guidelines regarding writing  argumentative essays. 

The Moodle course website also provides useful information in regard to the development of this  assessment task. You should always check the course website for course-specific instructions, which  may be updated continuously.  

Description 

Assessment task 3 requires the writing of an argumentative essay. This essay should be an  'argumentative/ academic essay', and must therefore contain an argument that is used as the  structuring element of the paper. The assignment is based on a case study that describes the impact of  leadership styles and change management on business activities. The purpose of the essay is to  identify the roles of work-life balance, flexibility in work arrangements and other challenges in  managing dynamic organisations. Students are expected to engage in extensive research within the  academic literature relating to work-life balance, flexible work arrangements, job satisfaction and employee performances. Students are expected to engage in extensive research within the academic  literature relating to human resource management. 

Details 

The assessment item is based on the case study titled Flexibility and work-life balance: who  benefits? (pg. 315-316 of textbook: Human Resource Management in Australia (5th Ed., 2014) by  Kramar, Bartram, De Cieri, Noe, Hollenbeck, Gerhart & Wright, McGraw-Hill Australia). You should  read, and carefully analyse, the case and respond to the issues presented at the end of the case study  within the context of an argumentative essay. You are required to support your argument with  appropriate theoretical discussion and references. 

This assignment MUST be a properly constructed academic essay. It MUST NOT contain headings  and sub-headings. Refer to Academic Learning Centre and CQU Library Help pages for the guidelines  regarding writing argumentative essays. You are required to follow the guide to structure your essay.  Your essay should be a properly constructed academic essay. It should contain an effective  introduction, body, and conclusion. The introduction should introduce the essay and include your  argument. The body should present the evidence you have collected to support your argument, and the  conclusion should restate your argument, summarise the evidence and make a conclusion regarding  your argument. You are required to support your argument with appropriate theoretical discussion and  references.  

The essay should contain a coherent, but necessarily restricted review of the academic literature on the  Human Resource Management topic in question. The literature review should be integrated into the  essay, not a separate section. Advice regarding formatting of the essay can be found at the link above.  Do not use headings or include an abstract. A reference list is compulsory. Further information  regarding formatting of assignments and other information is available at  Cqu.edu.au

This assessment item involves researching your assigned topic to enhance your understanding of  Human Resource Management (HRM) concepts and utilisation of academic literature. AVOID using  only the textbooks, however, the prescribed textbook for the course should be cited in regard to broad  HRM principles. You will be expected to present information and evidence from, and cite, at LEAST  fifteen (15) relevant peer-reviewed, academic journal articles (twelve relevant and well applied  academic articles will gain a pass mark for this criterion). Refer to your recommended readings for  examples of academic journals. While you can cite these you must find fifteen (15) journal articles not  listed in the course materials. Your citations will show the breadth and depth of the literature used to  answer the questions. Your marker is interested in the analysis that you have developed from YOUR  review of the literature and how well you use the literature to respond to the topic.

Tasks 

Case Study: Flexibility and work-life balance: who benefits? (pg. 315-316 of the textbook) 

Based on the above mentioned case study, write an essay entitled 'Work-Life Balance' to critically  discuss the following questions: 

  1. Do you agree with Juliet Bourke that the use of flexibility has moved away from its original  paradigms? 
  2. Critically discuss the implications of excessive working hours on the performance of  employees and managers. 
  3. Analyse ways in which employers could facilitate work-life balance during an economic  downturn.

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Assignment Solution

Starting with the very definition of the terms Flexibility and Work-Life Balance will help in understanding the core idea behind coming up with such policies and frameworks at the workplace. Not to mention, judging the impact accrued as a result of these policies on the performance of the employees, the quality of work delivered, which would directly impact the bottom line of the company. The entire work dynamic is now undergoing a rapid change; and the reasons behind these are the factors such as – customers, who expect services 24 hours a day, be it the organization which always struggle to keep up with the changing customer needs, and how to bridge the gap between client and employee expectations, and employees themselves who seek to have a proper work-life balance. Organizations are under a constant strain to produce the right quality of goods and services, whenever customers want them and thereby improving the customer service (Gangwisch, 2014). Along with this, the employees seek a work environment where they are given the freedom to choose when they want to work and autonomy to make their own choices. Thus, it is then that the entire concept of flexible working came into the picture. Flexible working hours(Clark, S., C. (2008)) can be defined in multiple ways- may either mean with reference to the place of work, like working from home or it may refer to the kind of contract that the employee is on – temporary employment for an example. Other forms of flexible working are- Flexi-time, Annualized hours, compressed hours, staggered hours, job sharing etc.

In fact, the Workplace Employment Relations Survey of 2004 indicated that 64% of the employees had the choice of working part-time as compared to just 46% in 1998 (Pain, 2014). This indicates the rise in trend of flexible working options in companies and how the employees prefer such working conditions to maintain their work-life balance. Thus, in order to achieve a work-life balance indicating a balance between personal and professional life is essential for the development of the employees. 

 However, increasingly it has been seen that the link between flexible working hours and work-life balance is not so straight. According to a survey (Shagvaliyeva, S. (2014)) titled, 'Flexible working hours can hinder work-life balance', which was published in 3rd March 2008, flexible working hours can, in fact, hinder the work-life balance of the working employees. And how can we substantiate that? As per this paper, the flexible working policies implemented by the Norwegian government have been taken into consideration. This government had established a law in 2006 giving all employees of Norway the right to flexible working hours. However, there were certain reservations as it couldn't be implemented in some sectors like services – where one cannot put such a working structure in place owing to the needs of the patients or clients, which must be taken into consideration. It has to be noted that once every three years, an official national survey called the Level of Living Survey: Working Conditions is conducted to ascertain the working conditions of employees in Norway. The survey that was conducted in 2006, via the medium of telephone and had a response rate of 67%, the sample size of the survey was almost 10,000 workers (Wright, 2001). This survey data helped to provide insights on employee perception of their work-life balance. This survey also aimed to examine the relationship between employees who had flexible work time and the problems that they faced in managing their personal and professional lives. It had been taken care of that self-employed workers were excluded from the study. This had been done, so as not to jeopardize the findings of the study as the self-employed workers don't face such conditions. 

40% of the total people who were interviewed said that their professional commitments never interfered with their personal life. However, on an average 19% of men and 15%, women reported that they could not achieve work-life balance. It was also found that in comparison to males, number of females was involved in part-time work, with a ratio of 44:13. On the other hand, if only the full-time workers are taken into consideration then the gender difference is relatively small. It was observed that there was no direct link between family life conflicts with employees working for weekly working hours of less than 40hours; whereas for people working for longer duration faced greater conflicts in their personal life. On the job designation front, it was found that the employees at the level of senior management faced greater conflicts in their personal life. This particular group is also characterized by relatively longer working hours, with more than 65% of the employees working more than 42 hours a week, also it was surprising to note that teachers also fell in this category. With close to 23.7% of total respondents belonging to this category, related work-life imbalance (Wright, 2001). The categories which experienced the least amount of work-family conflict belonged to the category of clerks and employees in welfare, caring and social work occupations. This analysis also differentiated between flex-time' which meant flexible working hours within a certain range versus having complete flexibility of working. The former exemplifies the fact that employees get the right of choice of their own working time which would fall within a set time frame, and so far better common arrangement. As an example, workers who are employed by the Norwegian government were allowed the choice of their own working time within the set time limits of 07.00 to 20.00, within which the 'core time' was defined from 09.30 to 14.30 at which time all the employees were to be present.

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