Improvement of the quality of work life

The earlier approach to human resource development emphasized individual development through training and proper supervision. However, with the increasing complexity of organizations and society, it was soon realized that training individuals plays only a limited role in the development of organizations. The need for improving the quality of work life through making the job more satisfying and productive has been greatly felt. Factors such as the nature of the job or the role and involvement of employees in work decisions are important for improving the quality of work life. The methods used to do so are job enrichment, job design, and role interventions (Pareek, 1993). An understanding of these methods and their application in extension organizations are essential for extension managers to improve the performance of extension agents. Studies have shown that the work environment of extension organizations is poor and needs improvement (Jhamtani & Singh, 1989, 1992).

Job Enrichment and Job Design

Job enrichment refers to detailed analysis of the work to know the factors which make it a satisfying experience. Job enrichment uses the job as the medium of developing employees and changing organizational practices. Some of the factors which increase job satisfaction are a sense of achievement in the job, recognition for the job, the nature of the work itself, and opportunities to learn new things and grow.

The principles of job enrichment, according to Herzberg (1966), are removing controls while retaining accountability, introducing new tasks, giving a complete unit of work, granting job freedom, and helping employees to become expert in their tasks. These principles can be practised by extension managers to increase the quality of work and job satisfaction among extension personnel. Job enrichment programmes were successful in improving the quality of work and job satisfaction. However, it was found that job enrichment had a limited view of the job, and the need for greater emphasis on human values was realized.

This led to the concept of job design, which refers to structuring a job to satisfy the technical, organizational, social, and human requirements of the person performing the work (Davis & Taylor, 1979). Based on the humanization of work, job design aims at increasing the quality of work life through treating the employees as human beings and emphasizing their development and involvement in work decisions. It emphasizes the use of extrinsic and intrinsic job factors, employee participation in management, autonomy, adaptability, and variety. The concept of job design can be used by extension managers to increase participation of extension personnel in the planning and management of extension programmes, which will improve the quality of their work life.

Role Interventions

The study of roles, which are the positions employees hold in an organization, as defined by the expectations of significant persons and the individuals occupying the positions, is a comparatively neglected aspect of organizations. Roles are an important dimension in increasing organizational effectiveness. Through their roles, people are linked with the organization. This linkage increases organizational effectiveness by integrating the individuals with the organization. Such integration increases mental well-being and personal effectiveness (Pareek, 1993). The purpose of role-based intervention is to increase the mutuality of roles in organizations. Role-based interventions are done through learning situations such as process laboratory, group discussion, and use of questionnaires and schedules. Role-based interventions in extension organizations will result in increased work commitment, motivation, creativity, and team spirit.

Facts [+]

It doesn't matter what size company you work for; flexibility matters. Workplace flexibility programs benefit employers of all sizes and industries, resulting in increased employee job satisfaction, lower turnover and lower insurance costs, according to the new report from The Society for Human Resource Management and the Families and Work Institute.

An estimated 15 to 20 million U.S. workers telecommute from home at least part of their work time. The advantages of telecommuting include better recruitment incentive for hiring, higher worker productivity resulting from less commute time, and better office space use efficiency. A disadvantage of telecommuting is the decrease in synergy achieved when workers are physically near one another.

Tips for better work-life balance

According to Maslow’s hierarchy, your needs should be satisfied sequentially. First come the survival needs of food, water and shelter, followed by emotional needs of safety, love, belonging to a group and self-esteem. Going to work earns you money for basic needs and surrounds you with people, thus partially providing for emotional needs.

The next category constitutes mental and creative needs for knowledge, beauty and achieving one’s full potential. Only a well-planned lifestyle with adequate personal time can fulfil these. Working round the clock causes stress, poor health and burnout. Instead, try to achieve a better work-life balance. Here’s how.

Choose three

Randi Zuckerberg – the sibling of Facebook’s founder – says that one can pick only three things out of work, sleep, family, friends and fitness. It is important to know what really matters to you and to prioritise it. Define the parameters of success in each area you choose and consciously distribute time among multiple goals. Learn to say 'no' to people and activities that distract you from your priorities.

Draw your clock

Use a diary to track how you spend the hours of your workday as well as on a holiday. Put those hours in different buckets – work, family, chores, fun – and categorise each task into urgent/not urgent and important/not important. Draw a circle with different segments representing each bucket. This is your current life. Now draw new circles to represent your ideal workday and holiday and mark out your desired segments. Work on moving from your current to your ideal clock. Focus on eliminating unimportant tasks and completing important tasks on time.

Look for change

Do not assume that your lifestyle has no scope for improvement. Ask yourself what changes to your routine would improve your balance. Can you schedule client meetings in off-peak hours, so you spend less time in traffic? Can you order groceries online instead of spending an hour in the market? Create habits that ensure good nutrition, sleep and exercise. Build support systems within your family and team that help you out when you need it and enable better time utilisation.

Small steps

Do not make more than two small changes a week and give yourself time to settle into new routines. Sudden major changes die out quickly. Start with baby steps. Keep at it consistently for three weeks and you have formed a new habit. Mind and body If you are constantly stressed, your work life balance needs fixing. The best way to de-stress is to focus on your body and mind. Daily physical exercise triggers the release of endorphins, which relieve stress. Similarly, meditation, music, a hobby or enjoyable companionship can enable your mind to disengage from stressful thoughts, at least temporarily. Unplug Designate a certain amount of time to ‘unplug’ yourself from your mobile phone and the Internet. These two either keep you hooked to work or to useless activities that prevent you from important activities like getting enough rest, spending quality time with people you connect with, and engaging in things that make you happy and help you relax.

Take 5

To maximise productivity, add both short and long breaks to your routine. Take five-minute breaks every couple of hours at work or while switching from one task to another. This helps you shift focus and increases your output. Every few months, take a vacation of at least five working days, clubbed with weekends, to rejuvenate yourself.

Understand face-time

Face-time at work means the time you spend in direct interactions with or in sight of your manager. As a junior person, schedule daily or weekly interactions with your manager. Use this to give an update on your work and receive instructions. This allows you greater freedom for the rest of the week. If you are the boss, minimise the requirement of face-time for your team members to improve their work-life balance and productivity.

Don't multi-task

Say ‘no’ to multi-tasking. This can dramatically reduce stress and improve outcomes at work and in your personal life. Draw a rigid boundary around anything that you are currently doing. If you are having dinner with your family switch off all distractions and be there for them. If you are in a team meeting do not look at your cell phone to read e-mails. If your mind is constantly wandering, maybe you should not be on the current task.

One hour a day

Finally, respect yourself. Set aside an hour every day for yourself and respect that time as much as you would respect your manager’s time. Use that hour to build a habit of your choice. This is your daily down time which is sacrosanct, except during emergencies. This time will help you recharge and restore balance.

5 causes of imbalance

1. Societal expectations

Society sets unrealistic targets for us, which causes unnecessary stress. As a result, you might experience distress on getting average marks in an exam, not earning enough or failing to fulfi l family obligations. To avoid this, learn to distinguish between social conditioning and your priorities.

2. Extreme ambition

Single-minded ambition regarding work comes from internal triggers or from a need for social recognition and success. However, it inevitably leads to hiding failures, avoiding people and ultimately becoming cynical and unhappy. Substitute it with moderated ambition aimed at achieving multiple parallel work and life goals.

3. Desperate for perfection

Social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook show us a false image of the glamorous lives that other people lead. Their lives seem full of impeccable fashion, family, friends, food and fun. If you are seeking total perfection in any area of life, know that it takes time away from other things, leading to greater imbalance and unhappiness.

4. Denied depression

Depression and burnout are socially unacceptable weaknesses. As a result of this taboo, these issues are ignored and rarely shared with others. This leads to rapid deterioration without any attempt to address the causes. Recognise them as mental ailments in both yourself and loved ones, and seek therapy or make lifestyle changes as needed.

5. One size fits all

In a crowded and competitive world, uniform rules are applied to everyone for the sake of 'fairness'. In schools everyone studies all subjects at the same pace. Fixed policies at work leave little room for you to control your life. Try to choose a career and employers that fi t your life, not someone else’s.