Quality of Work Life

Quality of Work Life (QWL)

Quality of Work Life (QWL)

The term “quality of work life” (QWL) was first introduced in 1972 during an international labour relations conference. QWL received more attention after United Auto Workers and General Motors initiated a QWL program for work reforms.

Robbins (1989) defined QWL as “a process by which an organization responds to employees needs by developing mechanisms to allow them to share fully in making the decisions their design their lives at work”

QWL has been well recognized as a multi-dimensional construct and it may not be universal or eternal. The key concepts captured and discussed in the existing literature include job security, better reward system, higher pay and opportunity for growth, participative groups, and increased organizational productivity among others.

For the purpose of this study , QWL is defined as the favourable conditions and environments of a workplace that support and promote employees satisfaction by providing them with rewards, job security and growth opportunities.

It is almost impossible today to pick up a newspaper of news-magazine without finding a reference to quality of work/working life. In the search for improved productivity, manager and executives alike are discovering the important contribution of QWL. QWL entails the design of work systems that enhance the working life experiences of organizational members, thereby improving commitment to and motivation for achieving organizational goals. Most, often, this has been implemented through the design of jobs that afford workers more direct control over their immediate work environment.

According to J. LIoyd Suttle, “Quality of work life is the degree to which members of a work organization are able to satisfy important personal needs through their experiences in the organization.” More specifically, QWL may be set into operation in terms of employees” perceptions of their physical and psychological well-being at work. It includes virtually every major issue that labor has fought for during the last two decades.

Quality of Working Life is a term that had been used to describe the broader job-related experience an individual has.

Whilst there has, for many years, been much research into job satisfaction, and, more recently, an interest has arisen into the broader concepts of stress and subjective well-being, the precise nature of the relationship between these concepts has still been little explored. Stress at work is often considered in isolation, wherein it is assessed on the basis that attention to an individual’s stress management skills or the sources of stress will prove to provide a good enough basis for effective intervention. Alternatively, job satisfaction may be assessed, so that action can be taken which will enhance an individual’s performance. Somewhere in all this, there is often an awareness of the greater context, whereupon the home-work context is considered, for example, and other factors, such as an individual’s personal characteristics, and the broader economic or cultural climate, might be seen as relevant. In this context, subjective well-being is seen as drawing upon both work and non-work aspects of life.

Evaluate Quality of Work Life

QWL programs can be evaluated on the basis of following points:

  1. Fair compensation and job security: The economic interests of people drive them to work at a job and employee satisfaction depends at least partially , on the compensation offered. Pay should be fixed on the basis of the work done, responsibilities undertaken, individual skills , performance and accomplishments. Job security is another factor that is of concern to employees. Permanent employment provides security to the employees and improves their QWL.

  2. Health is wealth: Organizations should realize that their true wealth lies in their employees and so providing a healthy work environment for employees should be their primary objective.

  3. Provide personal and career growth opportunities: An organization should provide employees with opportunities for personal/professional development and growth and to prepare them to accept responsibilities at higher levels.

  4. Participative management style and recognition: Flat organizational structures help organizations facilitate employee participation . A participative management style improves the quality of work life. Workers feel that they have control over their work processes and they also offer innovative ideas to improve them. Recognition also helps to motivate employees to perform better. Recognition can be in the form of rewarding employees for jobs well done.

  5. Work-life balance: Organizations should provide relaxation time for the employees and offer tips to balance their personal and professional lives. They should not strain employees personal and social life by forcing on them demanding working hours,overtime work, business travel, untimely transfers etc.

  6. Fun at workplace: This is growing trend adopted by today’s organizations to make their offices a fun place to work.

  7. The aim of QWL is to identify and implement alternative programs to improve the quality of professional as well as personal life of an organization’s employees.

Factors Influencing / Decide The Quality of Work Life

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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Nature of Job: For example, a driller in the oil drilling unit, a diver, a fire-fighter, traffic policeman, train 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 train and extract work from others; other jobs need forethought, vision and yet other jobs need motor skills, perfection and extreme carefulness.

  5. 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.

  6. 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 Organization 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

Elements in Quality of Work Life

  1. Open communication
  2. Equitable reward system
  3. A concern for employee job security
  4. Participation in job design – job enrichment & organisational design
  5. Employee skill development
  6. Reduction of occupational stress
  7. Good employer-employee relations
  8. A challenging job
  9. More opportunity for growth
  10. Encouraging creativity and innovation in employees
  11. Alternate work schedule
  12. Workers participation in management
  13. Supportive leadership
  14. Autonomy and delegation of authority
  15. An atmosphere based on fairness, integrity and trust
  16. Continuous development of employees
  17. Good appraisal system
  18. Recognition programs
  19. Employee benefits
  20. Profit sharing
  21. Pension rights