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Introduction of quality worklife

The present era is an era of knowledge workers and the

society in which we are living has come, to be known as
knowledge society. The intellectual pursuits have taken
precedence over the physical efforts.
Some knowledge workers work for more than 60 hours a week.
As a result of this, their personal hobbies and interests clash
with their work. Life is a bundle that contains all the strands
together and hence the need to balance work life with other
related issues.
One must have both love and work in ones life to make it
healthy. Gone are the days when the priority of employees
used to be for physical and material needs. With the increasing
shift of the economy towards knowledge economy, the
meaning and quality of work life has undergone a drastic

Quality of work life (QWL) refers to the favourableness or
unfavourableness of a job environment for the people working in an
organisation. The period of scientific management which focused
solely on specialisation and efficiency, has undergone a revolutionary
The traditional management (like scientific management) gave
inadequate attention to human values. In the present scenario, needs
and aspirations of the employees are changing. Employers are now
redesigning jobs for better QWL.

The QWL as strategy of Human Resource Management has assumed
increasing interest and importance. Many other terms have come to be
used interchangeably with QWL such as humanisations of work
quality of working life, industrial democracy and participative work.
A few definitions given by eminent authors on QWL are
1. QWL is a process of work organisations which enable its members
at all levels to actively; participate in shaping the organizations
environment, methods and outcomes. This value based process is
aimed towards meeting the twin goals of enhanced effectiveness of
organisations and improved quality of life at work for employees.
The American Society of Training and Development
2. QWL is a way of thinking about people, work and organisations, its
distinctive elements are (i) a concern about the impact of work on
people as well as on organisational effectiveness, and (ii) the idea of
participation in organisational problem-solving and decision making.
Nadler and Lawler
3. The overriding purpose of QWL is to change the climate at work so
that the human-technological-organisational interface leads to a better
quality of work life.

4. QWL is based on a general approach and an organisation

approach. The general approach includes all those factors affecting the
physical, social, economic, psychological and cultural well-being of
workers, while the organisational approach refers to the redesign and
operation of organisations in accordance with the value of democratic
From the definitions given above, it can be concluded that QWL is
concerned with taking care of the higher-order needs of employees in
addition to their basic needs. The overall climate of work place is
adjusted in such a way that it produces more humanized jobs.
QWL is viewed as that umbrella under which employees feel fully
satisfied with the working environment and extend their wholehearted
cooperation and support to the management to improve productivity
and work environment.
Some of the principles of quality of work life, formulated by Hartick
and Maccoby, are: 1. Principle of Security 2. Principle of Equity 3.
Principle of Individuality and 4. Principle of Democracy.
1. Principle of Security:
The changing workforce of knowledge workers expects more than just
money from their work life.
Job Security is at the top of their list. The modern era is rapidly
becoming an era of dual income workers where both the spouses are
working. Such workers need more flexibility in certain areas such as

working hours, leaves, compensation, etc. A worker who is free from

the fear of loss of employment contributes more value o an
2. Principle of Equity:
In law, the principle of equity states that there should be no distinction
or discriminates among the owners, management and workers. There
should be a fair reward for all of them. The profit of the business
should be shared between the owners and employees in the ratio of
contribution made by each one of them.
3. Principle of Individuality:
Individuality refers to freedom and antonomy allowed to workers in
deciding their own pace of work, methodology and designing of
sequence of operations of the job. Thus, principle of individuality lays
down that every individual employee should be motivated to make use
of his existing capabilities and also encouraged to develop his
competence to the maximum level.
4. Principle of Democracy:
This principle implies that there should a democratic environment at
the work place. The employers should enjoy certain rights such as
right to personal privacy, freedom of speech etc. Workers
participation in management is an indication of democratic set up of
an organisation.
Quality Work Life: Evolution and Reasons for Study of
Quality of Work life!

A number of legislations were passed in all parts of the world

including India to protect and safeguard employees from jobaccidents, exploitation in the hands of the employer and also to
provide welfare and safety measures.
In the modern scenario, QWL has become a buzzword of the modern
time. It was in the year 1970 that the idea of QWL was conceived in the
American Research Journals. The contribution of Maslow, Herzberg
and McGregor in improving QWL cannot be undermined. The QWL
has now come to be known as humanisation of work. The basic idea of
this concept is to treat employees as a human being. Almost all large
scale concerns are trying to make the work environment more
The various terms which have now come to be associated with
knowledge workers are Intellectual Capital Social Capital, Human
Capital, Human Resource Asset, Talent Investors etc. Individuals
possess bundles of energy which is not replicable.
These employees can become the most tangible assets of an
organisation if the concern takes care of their QWL. Management
now-a-days, have started showing utmost respect to employees, in all
multi-national companies, the employees are enjoying better quality of
work life.
Reasons for Study of Quality of Work Life:
1. Division of work and specialisation has made the workers socially
isolated from their fellow workers.

2. Overdependence on rules, procedures and hierarchy has made the

workers just like various parts of the machine.
3. In many organisations, workers are working 14 to 15 hours a day
against the accepted norms of 8 to 9 hours. This has brought the
workers under stress and tension
4. Burnout, work-stress, health hazards, monotony etc are the natural
offshoots of the modern way of life. Job pressure may result in poor
health on account of drinking, smoking and drug addiction.
5. Many organisations are keeping employees on temporary or adhoc
basis. There is no job security for the employees in such organisations.
Such persons overwork resulting in reduction in their general
6. Globalisation has lowered national boundaries and mobility of
workers has increased causing great changes in the work environment
at factories and offices.
7. The changing workforce of literate workers is more concerned with
non- economic aspects such as self-respect, recognition, flexi-hours
and organisational privacy etc.
8. Conflicts can be prevented if workers enjoy better QWL.
Some of the important scopes of the quality of work life, according to
walton, are: 1. adequate and fair compensation 2. safe and healthy
working conditions 3. opportunity to use and develop human
capacities 4. opportunity to growth and security 5. social integration in

the work organisation 6. constitution in the work organisation 7. work

and total life span and 8. social relevance of work life.
1. Adequate and Fair Compensation:
The salary structure of employees should be just, fair and equitable. It
should ensure reasonable wages to employees so that they can keep a
desirable standard of life. Payment of Wages Act, 1936 and Minimum
Wages Act 1948 safeguard the interests of the workers regarding
payment of wages.
It should be clearly understood that for QWL, cash payment is not the
only answer. However, hefty salaries are being paid to the knowledge
workers so as the meet their basic and higher level needs for
improving their QWL.
2. Safe and Healthy Working Conditions:
In India, Factories Act 1948 contains a number of provisions relating
to safety and health of employees. Employers are increasingly trying to
provide better working conditions to their workers as compared to
their competitors. Flexi-hours of work, zero risk physical conditions of
work and safety against noise, pollution, fume, gases etc. go a long way
in effecting the quality of work life.
3. Opportunity to use and Develop Human Capacities:
The QWL will be better if the jobs allow sufficient antonomy and
control to its employees. The workers must be given an opportunity to
use their skills, abilities and initiative in planning and implementing
the work. The senior persons can keep a watch and a constant control

and also provide immediate feedback to the workers. Corrective

measures can be taken immediately in the light of this feedback.
4. Opportunity to Growth and Security:
When employees are offered opportunities to grow in an organisation
by providing promotion ladder, it helps in improving the QWL. There
is an inner desire in every employee for career progression. If the job is
dead-end, it must be made clear to the employee at the outset.
5. Social Integration in the Work Organisation:
An employee develops a sense of belongingness to the organisation
where he works. Discrimination among the employees on the basis of
age, gender, cast, creed, religion etc. can act as a hindrance in the way
of social intergation. Workers develop self-respect as a result of social
integration and it improves the quality of work life.
6. Constitution in the Work Organisation:
Every employee should be entitled to some privileges such as personal
privacy, right to expression, right to equitable treatment etc. These
should be governed by certain rules and regulations. In short, there
should be the Rule of Law as per the constitution of the enterprise.
7. Work and Total Life Span:
Certain employees are required to work for late hours or are frequently
transferred or have to do a lot of travelling as a part of their duty. This
definitely affects their QWL as they remain away from their families
for a long period of time.

8. Social Relevance of Work Life:

Those business enterprises which are engaged in discharging their
social responsibilities contribute to QWL. If a concern does not care
for social obligations, the employees of such organisation cannot
expect a better QWL. Low quality products, no control on pollution,
bad employment practices are indicators of low QWL.
In addition to the above constituents.
International Labour Office (ILO) has included the following
determinants in QWL:
(a) Hours of work and arrangement of working time.
(b) Work organisation and job content.
(c) Impact of new technologies on working conditions.
(d) Working conditions of women, young workers, older workers and
other special categories.
(e) Work related welfare services and facilities.
(f) Shop floor participation in the improvement of working conditions.
Some other constituents of QWL can be: Open communication,
quitable reward systems, a concern for job security, participation in
job design, skill development, reduction in occupational stress, work
restructuring, innovative reward systems etc

Some of the important techniques for improving the quality of work

life are: 1. Job Enrichment 2. Job Rotation and 3. Quality Circles (or
Self-managed Work Teams).
The term quality of work life has become popular after 1970. Research
is going on to find out the new ways and means to improve QWL.
1. Job Enrichment:
Under traditional management, the principle of division of work and
specialisation was applied so that an individual could do a particular
work more efficiently. However, this made the job of workers
monotonous. They started feeling bored by doing the same work again
and again. Management also started realising it as a process of
Kerzberg in his two factor theory of motivation tried to use job as a
medium of developing people and changing some organisational
practices. Job enrichment can lead to extension of job contents. It also
develops competence of employees who voluntarily come forward to
share higher responsibilities.
2. Job Rotation:
A vertical job rotation means promotion whereas a horizontal job
rotation means transfer to some other job. Job rotation makes an
employee to learn the new job at the new seat thereby creating interest
in the new job. The problems associated with specialisation such as

boredom and monotony are automatically removed as the worker

becomes generalist from specialist.
3. Quality Circles (or Self-managed Work Teams):
The concept of Quality Circles was made popular in Japan in 1960 by
K. Ishikawa. Japan has gained a lot by applying the Statistical Quality
Control (SQC) techniques for production.
Quality circles can be defined as a small group of some people (may be
3 to 12) who meet for an hour every week to identify, analyse and solve
the problems related to their work. The solutions are sent to the
management for implementation.
Quality Circles develop a culture of participation among the workers.
It also reflects the democratic set up where the management keeps full
faith in the employees and also there is a complete understanding
between the management and workers.