“Quality of work life is a process (QWL) of work organisations which enables its members at all levels to participate actively and efficiently in shaping the organisation’s environment, methods and outcomes.
Quality of Work-Life is a value based process, which is aimed towards meeting the twin goals of enhanced effectiveness of the organisation and improved quality of life at work for the employees.”
Quality of Work-Life is a generic phrase that covers a person’s feelings about every dimension of work including economic rewards and benefits, security, working conditions, organisational and interpersonal relationships and its intrinsic meaning in a person’s life.
1. Introduction to Quality of Work Life 2. Definition of Quality of Work Life 3. Concept 4. Characteristics 5. Objectives 6. Elements 7. Constituents 8. Scope
9. Criteria 10. Steps 11. Factors 12. Models 13. Issues 14. Effects 15. Advantages 16. Disadvantages 17. Approaches and Strategies to Improve QWL.
Quality of Work Life: Definition, Objectives, Models, Factors, Characteristics, Elements, Steps, Constituents and Approaches
- Introduction to Quality of Work Life
- Definition of Quality of Work Life
- Concept of Quality of Work Life
- Characteristics of Quality of Work Life
- Objectives of Quality of Work Life
- Basic Elements of Quality of Work Life
- Constituents of Quality of Work Life
- Scope of Quality of Work Life
- Criteria for Quality of Work Life
- Steps of Quality of Work Life
- Factors Affecting Quality of Work Life
- Models of Quality of Work Life
- Issues in Quality of Work Life
- Effects of Quality of Work Life
- Advantages of Quality of Work Life
- Disadvantages of Quality of Work Life
- Approaches and Strategies to Improve Quality of Work Life
Quality of Work Life – Introduction
The success of any organisation is highly dependant on how it attracts, recruits, motivates, and retains its workforce. Today’s organisations need to be more flexible so that they are equipped to develop their workforce and enjoy their commitment. Therefore, organisations are required to adopt a strategy to improve the employees’ quality of work life (QWL) to satisfy both the organisational objectives and employee needs.
Quality of Working Life (QWL) is a term that had been used to describe the broader job-related experience an individual has. It has been differentiated from the broader concept of quality of life. To some degree, this may be overly simplistic, as Elizur and Shye concluded that quality of work performance is affected by quality of life as well as quality of working life. However, it will be argued here that the specific attention to work-related aspects of quality of life is valid.
Whilst quality of life has been more widely studied, quality of working life, remains relatively unexplored and unexplained. A review of the literature reveals relatively little on quality of working life. Where quality of working life has been explored, writers differ in their views on its core constituents.
It is argued that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts as regards quality of working life, and, therefore, the failure to attend to the bigger picture may lead to the failure of interventions which tackle only one aspect. A clearer understanding of the inter-relationship of the various facets of quality of working life offers the opportunity for improved analysis of cause and effect in the workplace.
This consideration of quality of working life as the greater context for various factors in the workplace, such as job satisfaction and stress, may offer opportunity for more cost-effective interventions in the workplace. The effective targeting of stress reduction, for example, may otherwise prove a hopeless task for employers pressured to take action to meet governmental requirements.
Work-life balance is balancing the priorities of career goals and family goals. Career goals include promotions, employment status, monetary earnings and the like. Family goals include spending more time with family members for spiritual activities, pleasure leisure, health, education and careers of family members. This concept reduces the gap between work and family in the process of balancing the demands of both. Certain jobs like allow work-life balance.
Quality of Work Life – Definitions: By Some Eminent Authors like Lloyd Suttle, Johnstorn, Alexander and Robin and a Few Others
Quality of Work Life (QWL) is an improvised HRD mechanism which attempts to design and to develop the work environments for the employees working at all levels. It is one of the major issues faced by the organisations. QWL is not only related to the achievement of greater human satisfaction, but also aims at improving productivity, adaptability and effectiveness of organisations.
QWL includes the attempts to achieve integration among the technological, human, organisational and societal demands (the factors of work environments) so as to maximise the benefits for enriching the human factor.
QWL is not based on any theory or any technique but it is concerned with the overall climate of work, the impact of work on people and the organisational effectiveness. The basic purpose is to change the work environment, which will lead towards a better QWL and ultimately to an improved quality of life in the community/society.
Lloyd Suttle defines QWL as – “the degree to which members of a particular organisation are able to satisfy important personal needs through their experiences in the organisation”. For example, providing ample opportunities to workers to directly participate in problem-solving and decision-making, particularly in their work related areas is considered to be a necessary condition for greater freedom at work and leads to self-development, self-control or self- direction, ultimately leading towards better QWL.
Quality of Work-Life is a generic phrase that covers a person’s feelings about every dimension of work including economic rewards and benefits, security, working conditions, organisational and interpersonal relationships and its intrinsic meaning in a person’s life. It is a process by which an organisation attempts to unleash the creative potential of its personnel by involving them in decisions affecting their work lives.
A distinguish characteristic of the process is that its goals are not simply extrinsic focusing on the improvement of productivity and efficiency, they are also intrinsic, regarding what the workers see as self-fulfilling and self-enhancing ends in themselves. The essential component of any QWL improvement programme is the existence of a genuine opportunity for individuals or task groups at any level in the organisation to influence their working environment.
During 1979, the American Society of Training and Development created a ‘Task Force’ on the quality of working life, which defined the concept of quality of working life (QWL) as follows –
“QWL is a process of work organisations which enables its members at all levels to participate actively and efficiently in shaping the organisation’s environment, methods and outcomes. It is a value based process, which is aimed towards meeting the twin goals of enhanced effectiveness of the organisation and improved quality of life at work for the employees.”
Quality of Work-Life is the degree to which members of a work organisation are able to satisfy their personal needs through their experience in the organisation. Its focus is on the problem of creating a human work environment where employees work cooperatively and contribute to organisational objectives. The major indicators of QWL are job involvement, job satisfaction and productivity.
According to Johnstorn, Alexander and Robin, QWL is more than simply a concept, means or an end.
Quality of work life is a multifaceted concept. The premise of quality of work life is having a work environment where an employee’s activities become more important. This means implementing procedures or policies that make the work less routine and more rewarding for the employee. These procedures or policies include autonomy, recognition, belonging, progress and development and external rewards.
“QWL is an indicator of how free the society is from exploitation, injustice, inequality, oppression and restrictions on the continuity of the growth of a man. What is most important in India at this stage is developing consciousness among all sections of industry i.e. workers, Unions and management. Success of any organisation much depends upon the healthy equation amongst these three players”. – De (1976)
It embodies the following inter-related sets of ideas:
(a) Ideas dealing with a body of knowledge, concepts experiences related to the nature, meaning and structure of work.
(b) Ideas dealing with the nature and process of introducing and managing organizational change; and
(c) Ideas dealing with outcomes or results the change process.
Glaser also sees QWL as a process by which all members of the organization, through appropriate channels of communication, have some say about the design of their jobs in particular and the work environment in general. Norton and others also view QWL as not only improving the jobs content, but also moving towards participant management.
The concept of QWL view work a process of interaction and joint problem solving by working people-managers, supervisors, workers.
This process is:
i. Co-operative rather than authoritative,
ii. Evolutionary and changing rather than static
iii. Open rather than rigid,
iv. Informal rather than rule-based
v. Interpersonal rather than mechanistic,
vi. Problem solving
vii. Win-win rather than win-lose and
viii.Based on mutual respect.
Quality of Work Life – 11 Important Characteristics: Attitude of the Employee, Fair Compensation and Job Security, Personal and Career Growth Opportunities and a Few Others
Walton provided the following eleven criteria/characteristics that influence quality of work life:
i. Attitude of the Employee:
Specifies that an employee who is entrusted with a particular job should have sufficient skills, knowledge, and expertise in performing his/her work, willingness to learn, and openness for creativity and team spirit.
ii. Fair Compensation and Job Security:
Specifies that employees should be offered compensation in proportion to their skills, knowledge, experience, and performance. If compensation paid to employees is not directly proportional to the performance of the employee, it may lead to greater employee discontent and lack of productivity on the part of employees. Job security provided to employees in the form of permanent employment also improves QWL.
iii. Personal and Career Growth Opportunities:
Imply that an organization should provide employees with opportunities for personal development and growth. Proper training and development programs should be organized from time-to-time in order to help employees to accept higher job responsibilities in future.
iv. Balance between Personal and Professional Life:
Means that an organization should provide proper leisure and relaxation time to its employees, so that they can maintain a balance between their personal as well as professional life. They should not be overburdened or pressurized with extra work and should not be sent on unplanned business travels or untimely transfers.
v. Nature of Job:
Refers to the type of job allocated to an employee. It means that if routine, dull, and monotonous jobs are allocated to employees, then it would lead to boredom and decline in QWL, but if the nature of job is such that it offers recognition, growth, creativity, and opportunities of advancement then it leads to improvement in QWL.
vi. Level of Stress:
Needs to be reduced, as stress is harmful for an individual. If the level of stress, which an individual faces on job is high, his/her productivity and efficiency to work would decline, thus, leading to a decrease in QWL. An organization should provide a stress free environment to its employees so that they can work productively towards the goals of the organization.
vii. Risk and Reward:
Means that a job, which is risky and challenging, is paid more, as Compared to the job that requires less risk, challenge, and enthusiasm. Rewards provided to an employee must be directly proportional to the risk and responsibilities involved in that job. Rewards act as a proper motivational tool to enhance the morale of its workers.
viii. Participative Style of Leadership:
Encourages employees’ participation and involvement that is employees feel themselves as a part of the organization and this develops a feeling of belongingness in them. They offer innovative and creative ideas and suggestions to managers, which in turn helps in improvement in overall work processes and environment. Recognition provided to them, in turn, helps in motivating them to perform better.
ix. Career Prospects:
Refer to opportunities for career growth and advancements. If an employee is performing well, he/she should be rewarded by providing growth prospects.
x. Fun at Workplace:
Refers to various contests, games, and quizzes that should be organized from time-to-time among employees, so that they enjoy while working. Games, such as tambola, dumb charade, can be planned at times, so that employees feel relaxed and tuned to their work.
xi. Alternative Work Arrangement Techniques:
Refer to programs, such as flexi-time and compressed workweek, play a vital role in enhancing QWL of employees.
Thus, it can be rightly said that QWL is related to job satisfaction and improvement in overall efficiency and productivity of employees. It ultimately leads to a decrease in absenteeism, turnover, and higher quality and quantity of work output. It further helps in making workforce happy and satisfied and in turn, improves physical and psychological health of employees.
Quality of Work Life – Objectives
The success of any organization depends on how it attracts recruits, motivates, and retains its workforce. Organizations need to be more flexible so that they develop their talented workforce and gain their commitment. Thus, organizations are required to retain employees by addressing their work life issues.
The elements that are relevant to an individual’s quality of work life include the task, the physical work environment, social environment within the organization, administrative system and relationship between life on and off the job. The basic objectives of a QWL program are improved working conditions for the employee and increase organizational effectiveness.
Maintaining a conducive organizational environment is not about managing retention. It is about managing people. If an organization manages people well, retention will take care of itself. Organizations should focus on managing the work environment to make better use of the available human assets.
People want to work for an organization which provides-
1. Appreciation for the work done
2. Ample opportunities to grow
3. A friendly and cooperative environment
4. A feeling that the organization is second home to the employee
5. Organization environment includes
8. Company reputation
9. Quality of people in the organization
10. Employee development and career growth
11. Risk taking
12. Leading technologies
Types of Environment Employees Seek in an Organization:
1. Learning Environment – It includes continuous learning and improvement of the individual, certifications and provision for higher studies, etc.
2. Support Environment – Organization can provide support in the form of work life balance.
Work life balance includes:
i. Flexible hours
iii. Dependent care
iv. Alternate work schedules
It includes efficient managers, supportive co-workers, challenging work, involvement in decision-making, clarity of work and responsibilities and recognition. Lack or absence of such environment pushes employees to look for new opportunities. The environment should be such that the employee feels connected to the organization in every respect.
Communication between Employee and Employer:
Communication is a process in which a message is conveyed to the receiver by the sender. The message may be or may not be in a common format or language that both the sender and receiver understand. So there is a need to encode and decode the message in the process. Encoding and decoding also helps in the security of the message. The process of communication is incomplete without the feedback.
Quality of Work Life – 4 Basic Elements
QWL focuses on creating a human work environment where employees work together with satisfaction to achieve the objectives collectively.
The four basic elements of quality of work life are:
(i) The programme is meant for enhancing human dignity and growth opportunities;
(ii) Employees are to work together to achieve the collective goal(s);
(iii) Employees decide on work related issues through total participation;
(iv) The programme integrates the people with the organisation by assimilating individual and organisational goals.
We can say, quality of work life is an OD intervention that focuses on developing a work environment which helps in the enrichment of human element at work.
Quality of Work Life – 5 Main Constituents: Safer Working Conditions, Equitable and Fair Pay, Job Satisfaction, Job Security and Autonomy and Control
The quality of work life attempts to fulfill the following needs of the workers:
1. Safer Working Conditions:
Walton considers QWL deeply concerned with provision of a work environment absolutely free from various hazards arising out of natural and unnatural things. He further encompasses the need for reasonable hours of work, favourable physical conditions of work, age restrictions, etc. to be followed by the organizations.
In India, the Factories Act, 1948 and several other labour laws provide the various rules and regulation of protecting the workers from the health hazards at the working site.
2. Equitable and Fair Pay:
The QWL requires that employees must be paid their due share in the progress of the firm. Compensation system should create a favourable environment whereby the organization utilizes the human resources to the maximum extent and should help the employee to maintain himself and his family with a standard in the society.
3. Job Satisfaction:
The workers, as they are living beings, desire to work on the job that will utilize their abilities and talents and provide them satisfaction. The management must enrich the jobs and redesign the jobs in such a way that workers feel satisfied.
4. Job Security:
Employees strongly desire stability of their jobs. The workplace should offer security of employment. Layoffs and retrenchment are opposed by all categories of employees these days.
5. Autonomy and Control:
As the work has become highly monotonous today, the worker becomes more mechanical towards the machines and lacks controls on them. Walton observes, when sufficient autonomy as well as control are given to workers, who in turn will use their innate skill and abilities for developing the organization, it will lead to improvement of QWL in the organization.
Quality of Work Life – Scope
The scope of QWL movement which originally included only job redesign efforts based on the sociotechnical systems approach has gradually widened very much so as to include a wide variety of interventions such as quality circles, suggestion schemes, employee participation, empowerment, autonomous work teams etc.
While the specifics of these interventions vary in each case the common elements in all these interventions seem to be as under:
(i) Restructuring of multiple dimensions of the organisation by instituting a mechanism which introduces and sustains changes over time;
(ii) Focus on work teams;
(iii) Autonomy in planning work;
(iv) Focus on skill development; and
(v) Increased responsiveness to employee concerns.
Turnover Intention (TI):
Price (1977) has defined turnover as the “ratio of the number of organizational members who have left during the period being considered divided by the average number of people in that organization during the period.” Thus, TI in Layman’s terms would then be described as the intention of employees to quit their organization. Porter and Steers (1973) describe TI as “Retreating behavior from job dissatisfaction”.
Intent to turnover has been found to be the best predictor of actual turnover. Richer, Blanchard & Vallerandi (2002) hypothesized that TI eventually translated into turnover behavior over time. Employee turnover has a negative impact on the organization, through the loss of productivity that results when an employee decides to leave his employment.
A lot of resources are invested into each employee by organizations and thus, a high Turnover rate can prove to be disastrous in terms of the losses incurred by the organization.
Work Life Balance and Turnover Intention:
Although direct correlational studies studying the relationship between Work Life Balance and Turnover Intention are rare, the relation can be understood through research in related areas. Going back to the concept of WLB, it can be said that a higher WLC will result in stress and lowered satisfaction; which in turn would logically lead to TI.
WLC mentioned above includes Role Overload (having too much to do and too little time to do it in) and Role Interference (incompatible demands making it difficult for employees to perform all their roles well). Role Interference, in turn, can be divided into two factors- family to work interference when family-role responsibilities hinder performance at work – and work to family interference when work demands make it harder for an employee to fulfill his/her family responsibilities.
Recent times have witnessed a rise in WLC suggesting that a greater proportion of workers are experiencing greater challenges in balancing their role of employee, parent, spouse, eldercare giver etc. Research findings from the meta analyses conducted by Kossek and Ozeki (1999) and Allen et al. (2000), indicated that work-to-family conflict is related to a variety of stress-related outcomes.
In both studies greater amounts of work-to-family conflict were related to increased job burnout, in particular to the emotional-exhaustion component of burnout. According to Barling, Kelloway and Frone (2005), stress and work-life conflict are intertwined. Job stress is increasingly recognized as a determinant of employee health and productivity.
Research by Duxbury and Higgins (2001) assessing the role of work-life conflict on retention in the Department of National Defence employees, indicated that employees with high work-to-family conflict reported lower organizational commitment, higher job stress, low job satisfaction and were more likely to report thinking about leaving the Department of National Defence as compared to employees with low work-to-family conflict.
When asked what their reasons for leaving the Department would be, 50% of them replied that they would leave in order to have more time for their family and personal life, 30% reported that they would leave in order to move closer to their family, and 33% reported that they would leave because work expectations are unrealistic, i.e., work overload.
In another study, Duxbury & Higgins (2001) found that on the whole, jobs have become more stressful and less satisfying, and employees are less committed to their employer and are more likely to be absent from work due to ill health.
Employees are also devoting a greater amount of time to work at the office, often extending their work day by bringing work home. All three aspects of work-life conflict – role overload, work to family and family to work interference – have increased, and no demographic group appears to have been left unscathed.
Gender based studies have shown that attrition rate for females continues to exceed those of males. Despite the fact that there is a high rate of female participation in the paid labour force, women still have primary responsibility for child care. Consequently, the balance between work and family may be potentially more difficult for women than for their male counterparts.
According to Duxbury & Higgins (2001), motherhood continues to be more stressful than fatherhood, and mothers continue to experience greater conflict between their work and family than do fathers. It was found that female respondents (regardless of whether they had children) reported higher levels of stress and depression than male respondents, and mothers reported higher levels of stress and depression than women without children. Parental status had little effect on reported stress and depression levels among men.
Many studies have been conducted that correlate job satisfaction and TI. Work-life researchers reason that, because of the interactive and reciprocal nature of the relationships between work and family domains, work-related role stress might combine with work-family demands to exert considerable influence on an employee’s overall perception of life satisfaction.
High work-life conflict has consistently been associated with lower levels of life satisfaction. Green and Tsitsianis (2005) identified a decline in the job satisfaction of the general working population in the
UK, citing the intensification of work effort, increased working hours, work-life imbalance and decreasing autonomy as the causes of this decline.
In a study by Elangovan (2001) it was found that there were strong links between stress, job satisfaction and commitment, i.e., a negative correlation was found between stress and job satisfaction (high stress led to low job satisfaction) and a positive correlation between job satisfaction and commitment (low job satisfaction led to low commitment).
It was further explained that a cross relationship existed between commitment and turnover intentions, i.e., lower commitment leads to greater intentions to quit, which in turn lowers commitment.
Having reviewed the literature on WLBAVFB or WLC/WFC and TI in relation to job stress and satisfaction, it can logically be said that there exists a relation between Work Life Balance and Turnover Intention. So far it has been clear that job related stress leads to WLC, which in turn leads to dissatisfaction and eventually, TI.
Quality of Work Life – 8 Main Criteria of QWL (Identified by Professor Walton)
Professor Walton has identified eight dimensions, which make up the quality of working life framework.
They are as follows:
(i) Adequate and Fair Compensation:
Motivation experts believe that money is still an important motive, which makes people work on the job. However, people also want to see fairness and adequacy in their pay rewards. Equal pay for equal work and pay that is linked to responsibility; skill, performance and individual accomplishment are viewed with great importance.
(ii) Safe and Healthy Working Conditions:
An organization must create working conditions that are physically and psychologically safe for its worker. The emergence of ergonomics in the 1950s has significantly improved equipment design and plant layout to enhance the physical as well as psychological comfort and safety of the workers.
(iii) Immediate Opportunity to Use and Develop Human Capacities:
An organization must be responsible for the growth and development of its workers. This involves training, skill, development, recognition and promotion. Work assignments should be made challenging enough to expand skills, abilities and knowledge. They should create a positive effect on self-esteem, autonomy, involvement and motivation.
(iv) Future Opportunity for Continued Growth and Security:
There must be employment, which provides for continual growth in job and income security. Opportunities for training and advancement should be considered.
(v) Social Integration in the Work Organization:
The work environment should provide opportunities for preserving an employee’s personal identity and self-esteem through freedom for prejudice, a sense of community, interpersonal openness and the absence of satisfaction in the organization.
(vi) Constitutionalism in the Work Organization:
There should be the right to personal-privacy, free speech and equitable treatment in the work place.
(vii) Work and Total Life Space:
A person’s work should not overbalance his life. Ideally, work schedules, career demand and travel requirements should not take up too much of his leisure and family life.
(viii) Social Relevance of Work Life:
The standing of an organization in society can influence an employee’s value of his work and career. Does the worker perceive the organization to be socially responsible in its products, waste disposal, marketing techniques, and employment practices and so forth?
Quality of Work Life – 14 Essential Steps: Flexibility in Work Schedule, Autonomous Work Group, Job Enrichment, Opportunity for Growth and a Few Others
Some of the essential steps of quality of work life are as follows:
1. Flexibility in Work Schedule – Employees want flexibility in work schedule. There may be three aspects of flexibility, viz. flexi time – a system of flexible working hours, staggered working hours – different time intervals for beginning and end of working hours and compressed work-week – more working hours per day with lesser number of working days per week.
2. Autonomous Work Group – Creation of autonomous work group helps in creating positive feelings among employees. They may be given freedom to choose their own teams; there should be freedom of decision making regarding the choice of methods for work distribution of tasks among group members and designing of work schedules.
3. Job Enrichment – Job enrichment attempts to design a job in such a way that it becomes more interesting and challenging so that the worker makes meaning out of that. The degree of job enrichment determines the degree of QWL.
4. Opportunity for Growth – An employee, particularly the achievement oriented one, seeks growth through his work. If the work provides him opportunity for personal growth and to develop his personality, he will feel committed to the job and the organisation.
5. Providing stability of employment – Good pay and different alternative ways of providing better wages and stability of employment will help the work force to function better.
6. Participation – Participation in decision making, particularly on the matters directly concerned with an individual’s working, has an important bearing on his satisfaction and performance. Higher degree of participation improves the QWL and overall organisational climate.
7. Recognition – Awarding and rewarding for their achievement, job enrichment, providing well-furnished and decent work places, offering membership in associations and in clubs, offering vacation trips etc., are the ways to recognise the employees.
8. Congenial relationship – Harmonious worker-manager relationship makes the worker have a sense of association and belongingness.
9. Grievance procedure – When the organisation allows the employees to express their grievances and represent their problems, their confidence in the management improves.
10. Occupational stress – Stress is a condition of strain on one’s emotions. It adversely affects employee’s productivity. The HR manager has to identify and minimise the stress.
11. Organisational health programme – These programmes educate the employees about health problems, and means to maintain and improve health. This programme should also suggest physical exercise, diet control, etc. Effective implementation of these programmes results in reduction of hospitalisation, absenteeism, excessive job turnover, disability etc.
12. Adequacy of resources – The enterprise must see that sufficient resources are allocated towards achieving the objectives of QWL.
13. Seniority and merit promotion – Seniority is to be taken for promotion for operating employees and merit is to be considered for advancement of managerial personnel. The promotional policies and activities should be fair and just for maintaining high order of QWL.
14. Communication – To make QWL effective, two-way communication is necessary. Through the downward communication employees would receive -information about the various aspects of the organisation, instructions about job performance and other specific communication which may be relevant for them. Through upward communication, employees can share their views, grievances and how to overcome these and suggestions for improving the work performance.
Quality of Work Life – 10 Major Factors: Attitude, Environment, Opportunities, Nature of Job, People, Stress Level, Career Prospects, Challenges and a Few Others
Several factors influence and decide the quality of work life.
Some of these factors are described below:
The person who is entrusted with a particular job needs to have sufficient knowledge, required skill and expertise, enough experience, enthusiasm, energy level, willingness to learn new things, dynamism, sense of belongingness in the organization, involvement in the job, inter personnel relations, adaptability to changes in the situation, openness for innovative ideas, competitiveness, zeal, ability to work Under pressure, leadership qualities and team-spirit.
The job may involve dealing with customers who have varied tolerance level, preferences, behavioral pattern, level of understanding; or it may involve working with dangerous machines like drilling pipes, cranes, lathe machines, welding and soldering machines, or even with animals where maximum safety precautions have to be observed which needs lot of concentration, alertness, presence of mind, quick with involuntary actions, synchronization of eyes, hands and body, sometimes high level of patience, tactful- ness, empathy and compassion and control over emotions.
Some jobs offer opportunities for learning, research, discovery, self- development, enhancement of skills, room for innovation, public recognition, exploration, celebrity-status and loads of fame. Others are monotonous, repetitive, dull, routine, no room for improvement and in every sense boring. Naturally the former ones are interesting and very much rewarding also.
4. Nature of Job:
For example, a driller in the oil drilling unit, a diver, a fire-fighter, traffic policeman, train engine driver, construction laborers, welder, miner, lathe mechanic have to do dangerous jobs and have to be more alert in order to avoid any loss of limb, or loss of life which is irreparable; whereas a pilot, doctor, judge, journalist have to be more prudent and tactful in handling the situation; a CEO, a professor, a teacher have more responsibility and accountability but safe working environment; a cashier or a security guard cannot afford to be careless in his job as it involves loss of money, property and wealth; a politician or a public figure cannot afford to be careless for his reputation and goodwill.
Some jobs need soft skills leadership qualities, intelligence, decision making abilities, abilities to train and extract work from others; other jobs need forethought, vision and yet other jobs need motor skills, perfection and extreme carefulness.
Almost everyone has to deal with three set of people in the work place. Those are namely boss, co-workers in the same level and subordinates. Apart from this, some professions need interaction with people like patients, media persons, public, customers, thieves, robbers, physically disabled people, mentally challenged, children, foreign delegates, gangsters, politicians, public figures and celebrities.
These situations demand high level of prudence, cool temper, tactfulness, humor, kindness, diplomacy and sensitiveness.
6. Stress Level:
Stress level need not be directly proportional to the compensation. Stress is of different types – mental stress/physical stress and psychological or emotional stress. A Managing Director of a company will have mental stress, a laborer will have physical stress, and a psychiatrist will have emotional stress. Mental stress and Emotional stress cause more damage than physical stress.
7. Career Prospects:
Every job should offer career development. That is an important factor which decides the quality of work life. Status improvement, more recognition from the management, appreciations are the motivating factors for anyone to take keen interest in his job. The work atmosphere should be conducive to achieve organizational goal as well as individual development.
It is a win-win situation for both the parties; an employee should be rewarded appropriately for his good work, extra efforts, sincerity and at the same time a lethargic and careless employee should be penalized suitably; this will motivate the former to work with more zeal and deter the latter from being so, and strive for better performance.
The job should offer some challenges at least to make it interesting. That enables an employee to upgrade his knowledge and skill and capabilities; whereas the monotony of the job makes a person dull, non-enthusiastic, dissatisfied, frustrating, and complacent. Challenge is the fire that keeps the innovation and thrill alive. A well-accomplished challenging job yields greater satisfaction than a monetary perk; it boosts the self-confidence also.
9. Growth and Development:
If an organization does not give chance for growth and personal development it is very difficult to retain the talented personnel and also to find new talent with experience and skill.
10. Risk Involved and Reward:
Generally reward or compensation is directly proportional to the quantum of work, man-hours, nature and extent of responsibility, accountability, delegated powers, authority of position in the organizational chart, risk involved level of expected commitment, deadlines and targets, industry, country, demand and supply of skilled manpower and even political stability and economic policies of a nation.
Although risk is involved in every job its nature and degree varies in them. All said and done, reward is a key criteria to lure a prospective worker to accept the offer.
Quality of Work Life – Models of QWL
Various authors and researchers have proposed models of quality of working life which include a wide range of factors.
Selected models are reviewed below:
Hackman and Oldham drew attention to what they described as psychological growth needs as relevant to the consideration of quality of working life. Several such needs were identified; skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy and feedback. They suggested that such needs have to be addressed if employees are to experience high quality of working life.
In contrast to such theory based models, Taylor more pragmatically identified the essential components of quality of working life as; basic extrinsic job factors of wages, hours and working conditions, and the intrinsic job notions of the nature of the work itself.
He suggested that a number of other aspects could be added, including; individual power, employee participation in the management, fairness and equity, social support, use of one’s present skills, self-development, a meaningful future at work, social relevance of the work or product, effect on extra work activities. Taylor suggested that relevant quality of working life concepts may vary according to organisation and employee group.
Warr and colleagues, in an investigation of quality of working life, considered a range of apparently relevant factors, including work involvement, intrinsic job motivation, higher order need strength, perceived intrinsic job characteristics, job satisfaction, life satisfaction, happiness, and self-rated anxiety.
They discussed a range of correlations derived from their work, such as those between work involvement and job satisfaction, intrinsic job motivation and job satisfaction, and perceived intrinsic job characteristics and job satisfaction. In particular, Warr et al. found evidence for a moderate association between total job satisfaction and total life satisfaction and happiness, with a less strong, but significant association with self-rated anxiety.
Thus, whilst some authors have emphasised the workplace aspects in quality of working life, others have identified the relevance of personality factors, psychological well-being, and broader concepts of happiness and life satisfaction.
Factors more obviously and directly affecting work have, however, served as the main focus of attention, as researchers have tried to tease out the important influences on quality of working life in the workplace.
Mirvis and Lawler suggested that quality of working life was associated with satisfaction with wages, hours and working conditions, describing the “basic elements of a good quality of work life” as; safe work environment, equitable wages, equal employment opportunities and opportunities for advancement.
Baba and Jamal listed what they described as typical indicators of quality of working life, including- job satisfaction, job involvement, work role ambiguity, work role conflict, work role overload, job stress, organisational commitment and turn-over intentions. Baba and Jamal also explored routinisation of job content, suggesting that this facet should be investigated as part of the concept of quality of working life.
Some have argued that quality of working life might vary between groups of workers. For example, Ellis and Pompli identified a number of factors contributing to job dissatisfaction and quality of working life in nurses, including – poor working environments, resident aggression, workload, unable to deliver quality of care preferred, balance of work and family, shiftwork, lack of involvement in decision making, professional isolation, lack of recognition, poor relationships with supervisor / peers, role conflict, lack of opportunity to learn new skills.
Sirgy et al. suggested that the key factors in quality of working life are – need satisfaction based on job requirements, need satisfaction based on work environment, need satisfaction based on supervisory behaviour, need satisfaction based on ancillary programmes, organisational commitment.
They defined quality of working life as satisfaction of these key needs through resources, activities, and outcomes stemming from participation in the workplace. Maslow’s needs were seen as relevant in underpinning this model, covering health and safety, economic and family, social, esteem, actualisation, knowledge and aesthetics, although the relevance of non-work aspects is play down as attention is focussed on quality of work life rather than the broader concept of quality of life.
These attempts at defining quality of working life have included theoretical approaches, lists of identified factors, correlational analyses, with opinions varying as to whether such definitions and explanations can be both global, or need to be specific to each work setting.
The distinction made between job satisfaction and dissatisfaction in quality of working life reflects the influence of job satisfaction theories. Hersberg at al., used “Hygiene factors” and “Motivator factors” to distinguish between the separate causes of job satisfaction and job dissatisfaction.
It has been suggested that Motivator factors are intrinsic to the job, that is; job content, the work itself, responsibility and advancement. The Hygiene factors or dissatisfaction-avoidance factors include aspects of the job environment such as interpersonal relationships, salary, working conditions and security. Of these latter, the most common cause of job dissatisfaction can be company policy and administration, whilst achievement can be the greatest source of extreme satisfaction.
QWL is not a unitary concept, but has been seen as incorporating a hierarchy of perspectives that not only include work-based factors such as job satisfaction, satisfaction with pay and relationships with work colleagues, but also factors that broadly reflect life satisfaction and general feelings of well-being. More recently, work-related stress and the relationship between work and non-work life domains have also been identified as factors that should conceptually be included in QWL.
There are few recognised measures of QWL and of those that exist few have evidence of validity and reliability, that is, there is a very limited literature based on peer reviewed evaluations of available assessments. A recent statistical analysis of a new measure, the Work- Related Quality of Life scale (WRQoL), indicates that this assessment device should prove to be a useful instrument, although further evaluation would be useful.
The WRQoWL measure uses six core factors to explain most of the variation in an individual’s quality of working life – job and career satisfaction; working conditions; general well-being; home-work interface; stress at work and control at work.
Regular assessment of QWL can potentially provide organisations with important information about the welfare of their employees, such as job satisfaction, general well-being, work-related stress and the homework interface.
Worrall and Cooper recently reported that a low level of well-being at work is estimated to cost about 5-10% of Gross National Product per annum, yet QWL as a theoretical construct remains relatively unexplored and unexplained within the organisational psychology research literature.
A large chunk of most peoples’ lives will be spent at work. Most people recognise the importance of sleeping well, and actively try to enjoy the leisure time that they can snatch. But all too often, people tend to see work as something they just have to put up with, or even something they don’t even expect to enjoy.
Some of the factors used to measure QWL pick up on things that don’t actually make people feel good, but which seem to make people feel bad about work if those things are absent. For example, noise—if the place where someone works is too noisy, they might get frequent headaches, or find they cannot concentrate, and so feel dissatisfied. But when it is quiet enough they don’t feel pleased or happy—they just don’t feel bad. This can apply to a range of factors that affect someone’s working conditions.
Walton Model of Quality of Work Life:
Walton model of quality of work life deals with compensation, welfare measures, development and career growth of employees, social integration in the work force, constitutionalism, work and quality of life and social relevance.
1. Compensation – Compensation package includes salary and wages, fringe benefits and welfare activities. The compensation plays a vital role in employee’s satisfaction.
2. Safe and Healthy Working Conditions refer to statutory safety provisions, insurance, production and productivity, delegation of authority and reward system.
3. Opportunity to Develop Human Capacities refers to training & development of employees.
4. Opportunity for Career Growth – The employees seek career growth and they drift from a job which does not ensure career growth. Prolonged employment in the same position may cause stress to the employees.
5. Work and Quality of Life – Challenging work can influence the employees’ QWL immensely. In order to motivate the employees, due importance has to be attached to job design techniques viz. job rotation, job enlargement and job enrichment
6. Constitutionalism – Manipulative attitude, improper grievance handling and ineffective career counseling etc. temper the constitutionalism of an organisation. The absence of the constitutionalism may have adverse effect on employees. Counselling and Grievance Redressal committees are the measures to promise the maintaining of constitutionalism.
7. Social Integration in the Workforce – Freedom from prejudices, egalitarianism, upward mobility, supportive work groups, sharing of feelings and openness are required to create a progressive environment for industrial democracy.
8. Social Relevance of Work – The management of the organisation should take substantial steps for the society.
Barriers to QWL are resistance of employees to changes due to their pre-conceived notions regarding schemes, plans, tools and techniques developed by the management and lack of financial resources which prohibits implementing any HRD intervention strategies for improving quality of work life. The managements do not tend to learn to adopt “Paternalistic Approach”.
Every organisation is an interdependent social and technical system. Today’s organisations need to be more flexible so that they are equipped to develop their work force and enjoy their commitment. The scope of term Quality of work life is so vast; that it covers almost all areas of Human Resource Management.
QWL is gaining momentum every day. With good quality of work life, employees concentrate more on their individual and group development. The management can get their attention with their high motivation and morale which paves way for rapid and smooth human resource development.
Employees who are provided with good Quality of work life can concentrate more and more on their development and it ensures a congenial atmosphere between different layers of employees and management. The sustained vitality and profitability of any company is clearly linked to the satisfaction of workforce. QWL addresses the concerns of improving employee satisfaction, strengthen workforce learning and better manage the ongoing change and transition.
One of the important strategies to improve QWL is to create work rules that can help in maintaining an orderly atmosphere that is pleasant for employees to work effectively.
Quality of Work Life – 8 Major Issues: Pay, Benefits, Security, Work Schedules, Occupational Stress, Empowerment, Recognition and Social Integration and Social Aspects
The major issues of QWL are:
(i) Pay – Employees must be properly remunerated and equity must be maintained during reward management.
(ii) Benefits – Employer needs to look at providing benefits due, to the employees. For example, profit share, Bonus, performance incentives
(iii) Security – Employees need to have permanent tenure which should be properly and effectively managed by the employer.
(iv) Work Schedules – Work schedules need to be prepared with the participation of employees. During preparation of these schedules, the following factors are to be considered like –
a. Flexi time (flexible working hours),
b. Shorter work weeks (five-days weeks),
c. Enriched jobs (challenging, stimulating and interesting work) and
d. Autonomous work groups (decision-making, distribution of work, selecting team members, etc., are to be done by the group itself)-
(v) Occupational Stress – Occupational stress is a matter of concern, as the individuals suffering from this cannot enjoy their work. The employees need to be assigned to the jobs suitable for them. The management must look into conditions of work, type of work, abilities of workers to perform, etc., during work allocation in order to avoid the stress at work.
(vi) Empowerment – Employees needed to be given scope to participate in the decision-making process, particularly on matters which affect their interests. More autonomy at work with a sharing approach in the process of participation helps employees to be more involved in the process.
(vii) Recognition and Social Integration – Recognizing individual and group achievements brings a sense of belongingness among employees. They involve themselves more in the process if properly treated and recognized at the workplace. The process of integration, through treatment of employees, as partners of the production system, enriches the work life.
(viii) Social Aspect of Life – The work should not negatively affect the life of workers. It should not interfere with their family life and their leisure time. Family life is equally important to the workers and needs proper care.
Quality of Work Life – Effects
Quality of work life affects job involvement, sense of competence, job satisfaction, and job performance. A favourable quality of work life results in positive consequences of these factors. Let us see how quality of work life affects these.
Effect # 1. Job Involvement:
Job involvement indicates the extent of people’s identification with, or ego involvement, in the job. Job involved people spend more time on job and turn out better performance. Challenging jobs influence employees to get involved with their jobs. Similarly, people with high need for achievement and high work ethic feel involved in jobs. These are the elements of quality of work life.
Effect # 2. Sense of Competence:
Sense of competence denotes the feelings of confidence that an individual has in his own competence. By engaging in a work that calls for a variety of skills, abilities, and talents, individuals gain mastery over their work environment leading to better feeling towards quality of work life. This leads to development of sense of competence.
Effect # 3. Job Satisfaction:
Job satisfaction is a set of favourable or unfavourable feelings with which employees view their jobs and the environment in which these are performed. Favourable feelings lead to job satisfaction while unfavourable feelings lead to job dissatisfaction. Better quality of work life makes both jobs and the environment in which these are performed favourable resulting in high job satisfaction.
Effect # 4. Productivity:
Job involvement, job satisfaction, and sense of competence affect productivity of employees. When the level of these factors is high, productivity of employees tends to be high. In the alternative case, it tends to be low.
Quality of Work Life – 9 Main Advantages of QWL
In general, the benefits of the QWL include:
1. Healthier, satisfied and productive employees;
2. Efficient, adaptive and profitable organizations;
3. More positive feelings towards one’s self (greater self-esteem);
4. More positive feelings towards one’s job (improved job satisfaction and involvement);
5. More positive feelings towards the organization (stronger commitment to the organization’s goals);
6. Improved physical and psychological health;
7. Greater growth and development of the individual as a person and as a productive member of the organization;
8. Decreased absenteeism and turnover and fewer accidents; and
9. Higher quality and quantity of output of goods and services.
Quality of Work Life – 4 Major Disadvantages (With Some Conditions)
Despite many advantages QWL programs also face several difficulties:
1. Both union and management open themselves to substantial risks.
2. The union may perceive joint activities as a means by which it intends to ‘do them in’.
3. The management may perceive joint activities as an intention of diluting its ability to manage and a means by which the union will acquire more power.
4. The middle management may find it difficult to believe the benefits of QWL and may perceive that the management is ‘becoming soft and giving in to union dominance’.
Whether initiated at the instance of the management or the union, or a third party, QWL programs have been successful in varied settings and a number of ways. Lehrer depicts certain measures that help over the difficulties of QWL programs.
These conditions are as follows:
1. Acknowledgement by both parties of ‘mutuality of concerns’ and specific identification of these concerns;
2. An understanding that joint activities will, in fact, be joint and supportive of the continuing integrity of both parties;
3. Acceptance of QWL concepts as the norm by the top management, by union leadership and by middle management and supervision;
4. An administrative structure to provide guidance for the QWL project activities;
5. An established charter for the QWL committee and project activities, specifying ground- rules, responsibilities, authorities, etc.;
6. A clear-cut understanding that joint ownership of the entire QWL is a reality and open acknowledgement of what each party expects to receive as benefit; and
7. A mechanism for involvement; handling substantive issues; worthwhile participation in personal terms and in influencing affairs of the organization and a provision for knowledge and skills to deal with such problems effectively.
Quality of Work Life – Approaches and Strategies to Improve QWL
The following variables have led to the success of Quality of Work Life (QWL) programmes:
(i) Flexi time – A system of flexible working hours. Flextime serves as a work-scheduling scheme allowing individual employees, within establishing limits, to control and redistribute their working hours around organizational demands.
(ii) Job Enrichment – Redesigning programmed for employee jobs to allow greater autonomy and responsibility in the performance of work tasks is required time to time.
(iii) Management by Objectives – Participation of an employee with his superior in setting employee goals that is consistent with the objectives of the organization as a whole.
(iv) Staggered Hours – A work hour arrangement of overlapping schedules of predetermined hours established for the total work force. In staggered work-hour schema, group of employee begin and end work at different intervals.
(v) Socio-technical System – The physical and technological redesign of the work place for employee with human considerations of the work force.
(vi) Job Rotation – Job rotation is the programme in which employees are periodically changed the work assignments to acquire skill and knowledge to reduce monotony burden in the organizations.
(vii) Job Enlargement – The job enlargement programmed in which employees continue their present jobs, but duties are added with the intent of making the job more rewarding.
(viii) Autonomous Work Group – A form of participation in which the group of workers is given some control over decision making on production methods, distribution of tasks, recruitment of team members, selection of team leaders, work schedules so on.
(ix) Employee Participation – A programme aimed at a greater sharing of responsibility for decision-making.
Strategies for Improving Quality of Work Life:
QWL is the shared responsibility, not only of the management and workers but also of the union leaders, government officials and behavioral scientists. Hackman and Suttle outline six strategies which can be used for improving QWL in organizations.
These strategies include:
1. The development of careers and career paths,
2. Work design,
3. Organizational reward systems,
4. Design and maintenance of group and inter-group relationships,
5. Managerial practices, and
6. Internal and external strategies for change.
1. Career and Career Paths:
Career refers to a sequence of positions occupied by an individual during the course of a lifetime. Exploration, establishment, mid-career, and later career are the four stages in an individual’s career. From the management’s point of view, the process of development of careers and career paths forms a means to improve, or at least, sustain employees’ productivity and prepare them for changing work situations in the organizational setting.
It involves issues like career counseling, charting career paths, career information systems, human resource planning, periodic skill assessment, training and help for disadvantaged groups. Three conditions are needed for effective performance of activities concerning to development of career paths of employees in organizations.
i. Coordination of these activities with other activities in HR management;
ii. Active involvement of line supervisors in designing and implementing them; and
iii. Provision for equal access to the benefit of all employees.
2. Work Design:
Work design influences employee satisfaction, motivation and productivity. In order to improve quality of work life, work design must consider factors that moderate employees’ reactions to their work. These factors relate to individual differences and inter-personal and organizational factors. As there is no universally good work design, there are varied job-design options to improve QWL.
Depending upon situational requirements, management may choose the relevant strategies for specific design alternatives. Whatever work design options management uses, the following strategies for planned personal and organizational change seem to be relevant for effective introduction of QWL through work redesign in organizational settings-
i. Diffusing knowledge about work-redesign theory and practice;
ii. Disseminating work-redesign innovations;
iii. Paying more attention to the jobs of first level managers; and
iv. Paying more attention to the role of unions in work-redesign efforts.
3. Reward Systems:
The reward systems motivate employees in organizations. Workers do what satisfy their needs. Before doing anything, they look for the reward in terms of salary increases, benefits, desirable job assignments etc. which organizations control. These organizational rewards may be direct or indirect, financial or non-financial and distributed on individual or group basis. Whatever the type of rewards, they influence every other aspect of the organization and must be used as an integral part of any program of organization at change.
4. Design and Maintenance of Group and Inter-Group Relationships:
There exists group dynamics in formal and informal situations. In conjunction with different characteristics of intra- group behavior there are systematic characteristics of inter-group relationships in organizations. There arises a complex set of behaviors, emotions, attitudes and beliefs when groups tend to have interdependent relationships.
As a strategy to improve QWL, efforts may be made to take into account the dynamics of intra-group and inter-group relations in designing and maintaining them in organizations. Different behavioral science interventions can be applied to reduce the destructive effects of inter-groups conflict and improve QWL.
Such interventions aim to increase communications and interactions between work-related groups, reduce the amount of dysfunctional competition and replace a parochial, independent point of view with an awareness of the necessity for interdependence of action calling on the best efforts of these groups.
5. Managerial Practices:
The prevailing management practices in an organization influence the quality of work life in it. Specifically, the role of supervision and management is of utmost significance in improving the QWL. The supervisor influences employees’ productive behavior through his treatment of the individuals and his influence on the design of jobs and the management influences through the reward systems and the development of team work.
6. Internal and External Strategies for Change:
A set of internal and external strategies is used to introduce five strategies aimed at improvement of QWL in an organization. Before sticking to this set of strategies, there is a need to make a number of choices between centralized-de-centralized strategies, power-based and collaborative strategies, fast and slow-paced strategies, and individual and structure oriented strategies. Often, three general strategies are used to introduce QWL programs.
i. Strategies arising internally in the organization, such as OD, or management and union strategies;
ii. Strategies originating with political and special interest groups, such as community action approaches; and
iii. Societal level strategies, such as use of legislation involving integration of internal and external programs.