This research project aims to empirically examine whether the practice of work life balance improves organisational performance.
It has long been argued work-life balance (WLB) system promotes positive outcomes for both individuals and organisations: satisfied workforce, low labour turnover and improved labour productivity (Kahnweiler 2008). Despite these potential benefits for both employers and employees, increasing evidence reports the impact on job satisfaction and productivity is unclear (Bailey and Kurland 2002). Lacking employer’s support or commitment appears to be the backlash of WLB scheme (Darcy, McCarthy, Hill, and Grady 2012; Kossek, Lewis, and Hammer 2010). The view that it is up to individual employees to balance their work and family responsibilities increased greatly in Britain in the past decade (Forth et al. 2006; Wanrooy et al. 2013), with an even higher uptake of such a view in the private sector (77%) than in the public sector (69%).
This is in stark contrast to the view that organizational flexibility as a result of adopting WLB practices is internalized by employees, WLB practices therefore needs to be maintained and reinforced as a collective right, rather than being a matter of individual choice (Gregory and Milner 2009).
The response from employers, as stated above, further questions the long-debated business case of practising WLB scheme. Not even much research provides empirical evidence suggesting whether it is the case. The impact of human resource (HR) practices on organisational performance is predominately researched surrounding the high performance work system (see, for example, Huselid 1995; Wood and de Ménezes 2008) in which WLB practices are bundled with other HR practices and form a unit of analysis. It is therefore far from clear whether WLB system would have any impact on organisational performance.
Given management practices that provide flexibility may reshape basic workplace practices, structures and cultures (Lewis, Gambles and Rapoport 2007), it is therefore essential to investigate and enhance our understanding in areas (but not limited to) such as a) whether there is a link between WLB practices and organisational performance; if any, b) what is the mechanism via which such link works; and c) the extent to which an HR system adopted at a workplace would affect the link.
Candidates with relevant experience in statistics or econometrics are encouraged to apply.
Bailey, D. E. and Kurland, N. B. (2002), A review of telework research: findings, new directions, and lessons for the study of modern work. Journal of Organizational Behavior. 23(4): 383–400.
Darcy, C., McCarthy, A., Hill, J., and Grady, G. (2012) Work-life balance: One size fits all? An exploratory analysis of differential effects of career stage. European Management Journal, 30 (2): 111–120.
Gregory, A. and Milner, S. (2009) Trade unions and work-life balance: changing times in France and the UK? British Journal of Industrial Relations, 47 (1): 122-146.
Forth, J., Bewley, H. and Bryson, A. (2006) Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises: Findings from the 2004 Workplace Employment Relations Survey. London: Routledge.
Huselid, M. A. (1995) The impact of human resource management practices on turnover, productivity, and corporate financial performance, Academy of Management Journal, 38(3): 635-672.
Kahnweiler, W. M. (2008) The work-life conundrum: Will HRD become more involved?. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 19(1): 75–83.
Kossek, E. E., Lewis, S., and Hammer, L. B. (2010). Work life initiatives and organizational change: Overcoming mixed messages to move from the margin to the mainstream. Human Relations, 63(1): 3-19.
Lewis, S., Gambles, R., and Rapoport, R. (2007) The constraints of a ‘work life balance’ approach: an international perspective. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 18(3): 360-373.
Wanrooy, Bewley, H., Bryson, A., Forth, F., Freeth, S., Stokes, L., and Wood, S. (2013) The 2011 Workplace Employment Relations Study-First Findings, London: BIS.
Wood, S. and de Ménezes, L. (2008) Comparing perspectives on high involvement management and organizational performance across the British economy. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 19(4): 639-682.