Can Work-Life Steadiness Insurance policies Develop into the Large Unhealthy Wolf for Organizations?


big-bad-wolf.jpgI used to be intrigued this previous week after I observed a brand new article popping out within the Academy of Administration Annals. Perrigino, Dunford, and Wilson (in press) present a evaluate of an idea they termed work-family backlash. Within the article, they emphasize that backlash from work-life steadiness (WLB) insurance policies and practices can happen as a consequence of:

  • perceptions of inequity from insurance policies and practices being out there for some workers however not others;
  • stigmatization that happens when workers use current insurance policies and practices, equivalent to flextime or parental depart choices;
  • destructive spillover that happens when workers who use WLB insurance policies and practices find yourself experiencing extra destructive outcomes outdoors of labor (e.g., those that really feel compelled to work extra hours after they do business from home); and
  • strategic mismanagement, equivalent to when the price of such practices are poorly thought of, when practices are rescinded as a consequence of a failure to supply desired outcomes, or when insurance policies exist however should not really supported.

Whereas an in depth physique of literature doesn’t but exist concerning these points, it’s clear that the present analysis means that organizations have to be aware of how they method the difficulty of WLB. It actually has develop into a classy matter inside up to date organizations, and a good quantity of public opinion polling means that workers will keep or depart, at the least partly, as a consequence of their perceived work-life steadiness.

Earlier than you bounce on the bandwagon

But, as this current evaluate emphasizes, if organizations need to profit from most of these insurance policies and practices, then the choice to supply them should contain greater than merely a need to leap on the WLB bandwagon. A scientific course of must happen to make sure that the practices are nicely designed to satisfy the wants of the group as a complete.

However there’s a downside that happens when the subject of work-life steadiness surfaces. There is no such thing as a common, accepted definition for work-life steadiness (or any of the myriad phrases which can be used). Particular WLB insurance policies and practices usually come up from many sources:

  • In response to a given want, maybe recognized as a part of an annual worker survey;
  • As a method to enhance retention, productiveness or attractiveness to job candidates, whether or not or not proof means that WLB points are essential;
  • As a method of retaining tempo with rivals; and
  • Organically inside a given work unit or division as a operate of a supervisor’s or supervisor’s perspective on the difficulty.

The examples above spotlight that particular WLB insurance policies and practices might develop, not as part of an total technique, however to serve particular tactical functions. When that happens, organizations run the chance of making insurance policies and practices that both fail to supply the specified outcomes or produce unintended penalties.

Even when there’s an overarching technique, it’s usually assumed that practices, if nicely designed, can be additionally nicely carried out. In different phrases, as evidenced by Perrigino et al., there’s a distinction between availability and utilization.

Making work-life practices out there for workers is barely step one

To make sure these practices are used, organizations want put forth effort to make sure:

  • These practices are a match with the group’s current tradition;
  • They align with assumptions and values of managers up and down the hierarchy;
  • Correct buildings and processes exist to assist these insurance policies and practices; and
  • There won’t be unintended destructive penalties on account of implementing them.

In different phrases, there’s numerous effort that wants to enter the event and implementation of WLB insurance policies and practices if they’re going to be efficient. In terms of growing a psychologically wholesome office, organizations want to raised perceive the place interventions are wanted and what sorts of interventions are prone to produce the meant outcomes. An essential step on this course of is making certain that no matter insurance policies and practices are designed are a part of a holistic method to organizational improvement.

Wish to know extra about constructing work-life steadiness via work flexibility? Try APA’s work-flex useful resource information.

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Natalia Camp


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