Quality of work life improvement refers to any activity for greater organizational effectiveness through the enhancement of human dignity and growth process through which the work force of the organization learn how to work together for betterment to determine for themselves what actions, changes and improvements are desirable and workable.
What work force feels about the work place?
The ‘Economic Times’ in December 1999 collected the views from top level HR executives from Indian companies on the emerging workplace. The views expressed were as follows:
- There would be more celebrations. Music, poetry, and art at work to provide creative moments in between the lightening speed of work. People with high EQ levels would be valued far more than yesterday as coaches and facilitators orchestrate the output of knowledge workers.
- People tomorrow would want and deserve a workplace free from anxiety and stress, where each can contribute fully from their jobs and also get a satisfactory growth in return.
- The new work use habits are going to be far more flexible, and individuals will use technology more effectively so that they can find optimum balance between family and work. What teleworking will encourage is a focus on work output and results rather than the time put as is the traditional model of a 9-5 office.
- People at work should have the option to exercise several choices operating from home, virtual offices, flexible hours, and possibility of switching from a fast track to a slow track.
- People not in the services sectors — who therefore have to report to work — can look forward to more aesthetically appealing office spaces with technology enabling environment-friendly intelligent buildings which encourage the body and mind to give their best.
- At the intellectual level, there would be a quantum jump in creativity and innovation. Technology-enabled rich imagery, cross fertilization of ideas of people from different cultures and magic of cyberspace would make break through ideas common place.
- The future workplace will buzz with words like openness, speed, teamwork and quality: brilliant tomorrow where capability alone will rule, where demonstrated performance will mean for more than just a paper degree.
The role of HR personnel will be crucial to bring such changes. They will create and sustain high performance cultures which retain talent and provide unique learning and growth.
How to improve the Quality of Work Life?
Observed from the above , the concept of quality of work life is to create a climate at the workplace so that human — technological – organizational interface leads to a better quality of work life. Climate is a set of attributes specific to a particular organization that may be included from the way the organization deals with its members. There are a number of factors involved in QWL, and these factors can be grouped in three categories: individual factors, job factors, and organizational factors. The characteristics of these factors affect the individual involvement in the job, his sense of competence which lead to job satisfaction and finally to job performance and productivity.
An individual in the organization wants to satisfy his needs while working. Depending on the nature of the individual, he may want equitable financial package, employment benefits, job security, and interesting work, involvement in decision-making process affecting him and his work, and getting proper feedback about his performance. If these factors are favorable, the individual will feel job involvement and sense of competence, consequently job satisfaction and contribute positively. Therefore, in improving Quality of Work Life, all these factors have to be taken into account though there may not be any universal phenomenon. The Human Resource manager has to take the following steps for improving Quality of Work Life;
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 organization.
- Providing stability of employment: Good pay and different alternative ways of providing better wages and stability of emplo5rment will help the work force to function better
- 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 increases the QWL and overall organizational climate.
- 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 recognize the employees.
- Congenial relationship: Harmonious worker-manager relationship makes the worker feel a sense of association and belongingness.
- Grievance procedure: when the organization allows the employees to express their grievances and represent their problems, their confidence in the management improves.
- Occupational stress: Stress is a condition of strain on one’s emotion. It adversely affects employee’s productivity. The HR manager has to identify and minimize the stress.
- Organizational health programme: These programmes educate the employees about health problems, means to maintain and improve health. This programme should also suggest physical exercise, diet control etc. Effective implementation of these programmes result in reduction of hospitalization, absenteeism, excessive job turnover, disability etc.
- Adequacy of resources: The enterprise must see that sufficient resources are allocated towards achieving the objectives of QWL.
- 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.
- Communication. To make QWL effective two-way communication is necessary. Through the downward communication employees would receive information about the various aspects of the organization, 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.