Quality of work life



According to J. Richard and J. Loy, "QWL is the degree to which members of a work organisation are able to satisfy important personal needs through their experiences in the organisation".

While the task force set in 1979 by the American Society for Training and Development [ASTD] defined QWL as a process of work organisation which enables its members at all levels of to actively participate in shaping the organisation's environments, methods and outcomes. This value based process is aimed towards meeteing the twin goals of enhanced effectiveness of organisation and improved quality of life at work for employees. Quality of work life efforts are systematic efforts made by an organisation to give its employees a greater opportunity to affect the way in which they do their jobs and the contributions they make to the overall effectiveness of their organisation.

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

  1. Adequate and fair compensation.
  2. Safe and healthy working condition.
  3. Opportunity to use and develop human capacities.
  4. Opportunity for career growth.
  5. Social integration in the work force.
  6. Constitutionalism in the work organisation.
  7. Work and quality of life and
  8. Special relevance of work.
Work is an integral part of our everyday life, as it is our livelihood or career or business. On an average we spend around twelve hours daily in the work place, that is one third of our entire life; it does influence the overall quality of our life.
It should yield job satisfaction, give peace of mind, a fulfillment of having done a task, as it is expected, without any flaw and having spent the time fruitfully, constructively and purposefully. Even if it is a small step towards our lifetime goal, at the end of the day it gives satisfaction and eagerness to look forward to the next day.

Facts [+]
Work-life balance describes the when, where and how individuals work, leading them to be able to enjoy an optimal quality of life. Work-life balance is achieved when an individual’s right to a fulfilled life inside and outside paid work is accepted and respected as the norm, to the mutual benefit of the individual, business and society.

QWL: ACTIVITIES AND CONCERNS

Walton provides eight conceptual categories for analysing the features of QWL. They are "adequate and fair compensation, safe and healthy working conditions, immediate opportunity to use and develop human capacities, future opportunity for continued growth and security, constitutionalism in ihe work organization, work and the total life space, and the social relevance of work life". The International Labour Office Lists the following areas as concerns of QWL.
  • Hours of work and arrangements of working time.
  • Work organization and job content.
  • Impact of new technologies on working conditions.
  • Working conditions of women, young workers, older workers and other special categories.
  • Work-related welfare services and facilities.
  • Shopfloor participation in the improvement of working conditions.
Nadler and Lawler list the types of QWL activities as participative problem-solving, work restructuring, innovative reward systems and improving the work environment.

Davis and Newstrom could perceive a wide range of QWL activities as open communications, equitable reward systems, a concern for employee-job security, and participation in job designs. According to him, emphasis should be placed on employee skill development, the reduction of occupational stress and the development of more co-operative labour management relations.

Facts [+]

INDIA, 2012: 20-year-old woman had labour pain, she had to give birth to her daughter within a rice mill in Alapakkam village in Madurantagam, 78 km south of Chennai state, where she was working as a bonded worker for five years for a daily salary of Rs 8/- (0.15$) (as against the norms of Rs 113.50 per day under the Minimum Wages Act, 1948. Under the bonded labour System (Abolition) Act 1976,a labourer should have the freedom to work anywhere and there should not be any advance payment that would hold him back.).

The owner of the mill did not provide medical help. Deterioration of their health without medical care has forced them along with other 19 employees at the rice mill to revolt against the mill owner. Based on a plea by one of the workers who escaped from the mill a few day's ago, Kancheepuram collector  sent a team of revenue officials and doctors to inspect the mill on Thursday. The team rescued 21 people including 11 children.


The factors that influence and decide the Quality of work life are:

  1. Attitude
  2. Environment
  3. Opportunities
  4. Nature of Job
  5. People
  6. Stress Level
  7. Career Prospects
  8. Challenges
  9. Growth and Development
  10. Risk Involved and Reward
Attitude: 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.

Environment: 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, tactfulness, empathy and compassion and control over emotions.

Opportunities: Some jobs offer opportunities for learning, research, discovery, self-development, enhancement of skills, room for innovation, public recognition, exploration, celebrity-status and loads 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.

Nature of Job: For example, a driller in the oil drilling unit, a diver, a fire-fighter, traffic policeman, tram 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 is at stake. Some jobs need soft skills, leadership qualities, intelligence, decision making abilities, abilities to tram and extract work from others; other jobs need forethought, vision and yet other jobs need motor skills, perfection and extreme carefulness.

People: 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.

Stress Level: All these above mentioned factors are inter-related and inter-dependant. 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, a psychiatrist will have emotional stress. Mental stress and Emotional stress cause more damage than physical stress.

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.

Challenges: 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, complacent, initiative - less and uninteresting. 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.

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.

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.

Conclusion: A happy and healthy employee will give better turnover, make good decisions and positively contribute to the organizational goal. An assured good quality of work life will not only attract young and new talent but also retain the existing experienced talent.


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The Great Place to Work Institute is a research and management consultancy based in the U.S. with international affiliate offices throughout the world. The Institute works each year with Fortune Magazine and other publications throughout the world to compile the "Best Companies to Work For" lists, which appear in 25 different countries. Visit the institute at GreatPlacetoWork.com.

Consumer products maker SC Johnson ranked number seven on Fortune Magazine's 100 Best Companies to Work For. The company has a devoted workforce as evidenced by its remarkably low turnover rate of two percent. Among SC Johnson's unique employee perks are: flexible work schedules, no meeting day Fridays, paid sabbaticals, and lifetime membership at the company fitness center.