Quality of Work Life (QWL)

The term Quality of Work Life (QWL) aims at changing the entire organizational climate by humanizing work, individualizing organizations and changing the structural and managerial systems. It takes into consideration the socio-psychological needs of the employees. It seeks to create such a culture of work commitment in the organizations which will ensure higher productivity and greater job satisfaction for the employees.

Quality of work life refers to the favorableness or unfavorableness of the job environment of an organization for its employees. It is generic term which covers a person’s feelings about every dimension of his work e.g. economic incentives and rewards, job security, working conditions, organizational and interpersonal relationships etc. The term QWL has different meanings for different people. A few important definitions of Quality of Work Life (QWL) are as follows:

  • According to Harrison: “Quality of Work Life is the degree to which work in an organization contributes to material and psychological well being of its members.”
  • According to D.S.Cohan “Quality of Work Life is a process of joint decision making, collaborations and building mutual respect between management and employees.”
  • According to the American Society of Training and Development “Quality of Work Life is a process of work organization which enables its members at all levels to participate actively and effectively in shaping the organizations’ environment, methods and outcomes. It is a value based process which is aimed towards meeting the twin goals of enhanced effectiveness of the organization and improved quality of life at work for the employees”.

Quality of Work Life influences the productivity of the employees. Researchers have proved that good QWL leads to psychologically and physically healthier employees with positive feelings.

Richard E. Walton explains quality of work life in terms of eight broad conditions of employment that constitute desirable quality of work life. He proposed the same criteria for measuring QWL. Those criteria include:

  1. Adequate and Fair Compensation: There are different opinions about adequate compensation. The committee on Fair Wages defined fair wage as” . . . the wage which is above the minimum wage, but below the living wage.”
  2. Safe and Healthy Working Conditions: Most of the organizations provide safe and healthy working conditions due to humanitarian requirements and/or legal requirements. In fact , these conditions are a matter or enlightened self interest.
  3. Opportunity to Use and Develop Human Capacities: Contrary to the traditional assumptions, QWL is improved… “to the extent that the worker can exercise more control over his or her work, and the degree to which the job embraces and entire meaningful task” … but not a part of it. Further, QWL provides for opportunities like autonomy in work and participation in planning in order to use human capabilities.
  4. Opportunity for Career Growth: Opportunities for promotions are limited in case of all categories of employees either due to educational barriers or due to limited openings at the higher level. QWL provides future opportunity for continued growth and security by expanding one’s capabilities, knowledge and qualifications.
  5. Social Integration in the Work Force: Social integration in the work force can be established by creating freedom from prejudice, supporting primary work groups, a sense of community and inter-personnel openness, legalitarianism and upward mobility.
  6. Constitutionalism in the Work Organization: QWL provides constitutional protection to the employees only to the level of desirability as it hampers workers. It happens because the management’s action is challenged in every action and bureaucratic procedures need to be followed lat that level. Constitutional protection is provided to employees on such matters as privacy, free speech, equity and due process.
  7. Work and Quality of Life: QWL provides for the balanced relationship among work, non-work and family aspects of life. In other words family life and social life should not be strained by working hours including overtime work, work during inconvenient hours, business travel, transfers, vacations etc.
  8. Social Relevance of Work: QWL is concerned about the establishment of social relevance to work in a socially beneficial manner. The workers’ self esteem would be high if his work is useful to the society and the vice versa is also true.

To summarize, Quality of Work Life is the degree to which employees of an organization are able to satisfy their personal needs through experience in the organization. It main aim is to create a work environment where employees work in cooperation with each other and contribute to organizational objectives.

Scope of Quality of Work Life

Quality of work life is a multi dimensional aspect. The workers expect the following needs to be fulfilled by the organizations:

  1. Compensation: The reward for work should be above a minimum standard for life and should also be equitable. There should be a just an equitable balance between the effort and the reward.
  2. Health and Safety: The working environment should be free from all hazards detrimental to the health and safety of the employees. The main elements of a good physical environment for work should be reasonable hours of work, cleanliness, pollution free atmosphere, risk free work etc.
  3. Job Security: The organization should offer security of employment. Employees should not have to work under a constant concern for their future stability of work and income.
  4. Job Design: The design of jobs should be such which is capable of meeting the needs of the organization for production and the individual for satisfying and interesting work. Quality of work life can be improved if the job allows sufficient autonomy and control, provides timely feed back on performance and uses a wide range of skills.
  5. Social Integration: The workers should be able to feel a sense of identity with the organization and develop a feeling of self esteem. This includes the elimination of discrimination and individualism, whilst encouraging teams and social groups to form.
  6. Social Relevance of Work: Work should not only be a source of material and psychological satisfaction, but also a means of social welfare. An organization that has greater concern for social causes can improve the quality of work life.
  7. Scope for Better Career Opportunities: The management should provide facilities to the employees for improving their skills both academic and otherwise. The management should always think of utilizing human resources for expansion and development of the organizations.

Principles of Quality of Work Life

According to N.Q.Herrick and M.Maccoby there are four basic principles, which will humanize work and improve the Quality of Work Life:

  1. The Principle of Security: Quality of work cannot be improved until employees are relieved of the anxiety, fear and loss of future employment. The working conditions must be safe and fear of economic want should be eliminated. Job security and safety against occupational hazards is an essential precondition of humanization of work.
  2. The Principle of Equity: There should be a direct and positive relation between effort and reward. All types of discrimination between people doing similar work and with same level of performance must be eliminated. Equity also requires sharing the profits of the organization.
  3. The Principle of individualism: Employees differ in terms of their attitudes, skills, potentials etc. Therefore, every individual should be provided the opportunities for development of his personality and potential. Humanization of work requires that employees are able to decide their own pace of activities and design of work operations.
  4. The Principle of Democracy: This means greater authority and responsibility to employees. Meaningful participation in decision making process improves the quality of work life.

Techniques for Improving Quality of Work Life

The quality of work life movement is of recent origin and has a long way to go. Individual as well as organized efforts are required to improve the quality of work life for millions of workers in the country. Some of the techniques used to improve the QWL are as given below:

  1. Flexible Work Schedules: There should be flexibility in the work schedules of the employees. Alternative work schedules for the employees can be flexi time, staggered hours, compressed work week etc. Flexi time is a system of flexible working hours, staggered hours schedule means that different groups of employees begin and end work a different intervals. Compressed work week involves longer hours of work per day for fewer days per week.
  2. Job Redesign: Job redesigning or job enrichment improves the quality of the jobs. It attempts to provide a person with exciting, interesting, stimulating and challenging work. It helps to satisfy the higher level needs of the employees.
  3. Opportunity for Development: Career development is very important for ambitious and achievement oriented employees. If the employees are provided with opportunities for their advancement and growth, they will be highly motivated and their commitment to the organization will increase.
  4. Autonomous Work Groups: Autonomous work groups are also called self managed work teams. In such groups the employees are given freedom of decision making. They are themselves responsible for planning, organizing and controlling the activities of their groups. The groups are also responsible for their success or failures.
  5. Employee’s Participation in Management: People in the organization should be allowed to participate in the management decisions affecting their lives. Quality circles, Management by objectives, suggestion system and other forms of employee’s participation in management help to improve the Quality of Work Life.
  6. Job Security: Employees want stability of employment. Adequate job security provided to the employees will improve the Quality of Work Life to a large extent.
  7. Equitable Justice: The principle of equitable administrative justice should be applied in disciplinary actions, grievance procedures, promotions, transfers, work assignments etc. Partiality and biasness at any stage can discourage the workers and affect the Quality of Work Life.

Close attention to Quality of Work Life (QWL) provides a more humanized work environment. It attempts to serve the higher-order needs of workers as well as their more basic needs. It seeks to employ the higher skills of workers and to provide an environment that encourages them to improve their skills. The idea is that human resources should be developed and not simply used. Further, the work should not have excessively negative conditions. It should not put workers under undue stress. It should not damage or degrade their humanness. It should not be threatening or unduly dangerous. Finally, it should contribute to, or at least leave unimpaired, worker’s abilities to perform in other life roles, such as citizen, spouse, and parent. That is, work should contribute to general social advancement.

Read More: Improving Quality of Work Life

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