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UNIT 7 EMERGING ISSUES OF WORK

ORGANISATION AND QUALITY


OF WORKING LIFE
After reading this Unit, you should be able to understand :

the up-and-coming trends in work organizations;


the concept of quality of work life; and
how the emerging trends affect the quality of work life of employees.
Structure

7.1 Introduction
7.2 Emerging Trends in Work Organizations
7.3 Prophesying the Future
7.4 Quality of Work Life (QWL)
7.5 Summary
7.6 Self Assessment Questions
7.7 Further Readings

7.1 INTRODUCTION
The concept and the nature of work has undergone numerous changes over
the years. During the 19th Century, workers wrestled to safeguard their right to
determine how and when they would work. This was the great age of co-
operatives, strikes and political movements led by small artisans defending
individual methods of working against the factory system. As the 20th Century
progressed, workers were gradually trapped within the formal economy of jobs
and factories, and tussled to control the amount of labor they would have to
give to the system in order to live. This was the age of the struggle for the
eight-hour day, for weekends off, holiday and sickness pay, of a decent wage
and guaranteed employment.

The defeat of these struggles has reduced the ability of the working class to
oppose the intensification and casualisation of work, while increasing their
dependence on the bosses to obtain the means to live. For some, working time
has increased beyond the eight-hour shift into overtime and additional part-time
work. An employee cannot say no to do overtime work. In low wage industries
workers get overtime work as a favor from managements and union leaders.
Companies avoid laws requiring premium pay for overtime by calling it
‘overstay’ or offering ‘hardship allowances’ instead of overtime pay.
Additionally there has been a huge change from long-term employment with its
often-better pay and conditions to sub-contracting and self-employment.

In this manner in the “new economy” there are several changes in the nature
of economic activity, such as strong growth in the services sector, increased
levels of productivity growth and globalized markets. Work in the new economy
is deemed to be different to work in the old economy because the spreading of
information and communications technologies (ICT) has changed the way in
which firms do business and create value. ICT has augmented the flexibility of
capital goods, making capital investment more productive and encouraging firms
to substitute capital for labour. This trend contributes to the globalization of
markets, has changed the nature of work and its ramification for quality of
work life of people.
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Approaches To Work Design
7.2 EMERGING TRENDS IN WORK ORGANIZATIONS
The pressure of competitiveness due to globalization and privatization has
resulted in many far reaching changes in the work place. Companies are
designing their work systems around the following four props : virtual
organizations, flexible and adaptive workforce, contingent pay and democratic
governance at workplace. Keeping people engaged in the work of the
organization and making them realize that they contribute to the mission of the
organisation is a key challenge. Table 1 provides insights into the shifts depending
on whether a company is engaged in traditional agriculture or manufacturing or
information technology leveraged manufacturing and service sector.

Table 1: Shifting Focus In The Realm Of Work

Aspect Traditional Early/Traditional Post-Industrial


Agriculture Industry Service/High-tech

Wealth Land Money Mind/Information

Skill/Effort Brawn/Muscle Machine-tending Brain/Mind Attitude


and ability matter, not
just skill

Management Unilateral Pluralistic Egalitarian


Philosophy

Management Autocratic Paternalistic Collegial


Style

Employment Master – Servant Employer –Employee Partners


Context

Relationship One-sided Interdependence Mutuality and


dependence independence

Communication Top-down Two-way Transparent

Motivation Fear Favour Fairness

Performance Information Formal, one-way Formal, open,


Appraisal confidential, boss participative appraisals

Control Direction and Inducement Consensus/


control Commitment

Source: C.S. Venkata Ratnam (2001), Globalisation and Labour management relations, page.303,
Response Books.

Details of a few changes are mentioned below.


I. Job Insecurity And Work Intensification
Let’s look at an instance of how intensification is launched into the workplace.
In 1974 at the Eicher factory in Faridabad 450 workers produced 80 tractors
per month. Supervisors then drove workers to make 150 tractors in a month.
An incentive scheme was introduced in 1978 and workers started producing
500 tractors a month, then 1000 in 1982 and 1500 per month in 1988. In 1989
a re-engineering plan was implemented. The number of workers was halved,
though they still had to produce the same number of tractors, and the incentive
scheme was discarded. Eicher then used the latest “human resource
development” scheme to reduce the number of workers further and goaded
them to produce 2000 tractors monthly. At some time incentives were given
when a tractor was assembled in 15 minutes. Now it is done in 10 minutes
without incentives, and the management wants it done in seven. The unions in
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the factory have fought the worker’s cause and fought it well: their members Emerging Issues of Work
Organisation and Quality
are allowed to take all of nine minutes, not seven, to assemble a tractor. of Working Life
Among industrial wage-workers, then, incentives for increased production are
often used to make workers supervise intensification of their own bodies.
Incentives are meant to lure workers to give more than normal production. The
increased levels of production become the new norm - to be met without
incentives. Management then begins a new cycle of increasing work-load and
intensity ( Adapted from www.WORK.htm).

A major study conducted in 1999 reported that “the root cause of job insecurity
and work intensification lies with the reduced staffing levels pursued by senior
managers in response to market pressures from competitors and dominant
stakeholders” . That same study revealed that 60% of employees in Britain
claimed the pace of work and the effort required to do it had greatly increased,
resulting in poor general health in the workforce and tense family relationships.
Stress and ill-health are made worse by job insecurity. Of course the two are
used together to exploit workers more intensively: “if you want to keep your
job, work harder” and “unless you work harder, you will lose your job”. 30% of
the workforce work longer than 48 hours a week, with 39% reporting an
increase in working hours. Between 2000 and 2002 alone, the number of men
working more that 60 hours per week rose from one in eight to one in six. The
number of women working long hours has doubled. 50% of workers report
inadequate or very inadequate staffing levels and as production and quality
suffer, performance appraisal systems are introduced, causing more stress and
worry. A major source of job insecurity is the distrust employees have of their
bosses. Few employees consider their managers have any faithfulness towards
them. The longer one remain in a state of insecurity the more his physical and
mental well-being deteriorates.
II. Flexibilisation & Casualisation
Flexibilisation is often presented as the creation of flexible working patterns .
Many employees have no objection to flexible hours and working but it is the
imposition of flexibility that provokes so much opposition. Interestingly (and not
surprisingly), those with interesting jobs are greatly in favor of flexible working.
For them it means more time with their family members, more leisure and
quality time. They claim to be able to work smarter and harder. Study after
study show, however, that this choice is not open to working class people in
cul-de-sac type jobs. The working class response to flexibilisation – a high labor
turnover, absenteeism, low commitment and poor performance – is matched by
the reduction in benefits, performance management techniques and rigorous
monitoring of work and working.

The report SMEs and Flexible Working Arrangements, by Shirley Dex and
Fiona Scheibl, of the Judge Institute of Management, Cambridge, is published by
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, found that flexible working arrangements,
practiced informally, are far more common in small organizations. The
researchers divide types of employer into 3 groups in terms of their adoption of
flexible work: holistic, selective, and resistant - in other words, those who go
for it, those who do a bit, and those who don’t.

The Britain Government introduced the Work-Life Balance campaign in 2000.


The campaign was to help employers to recognize the benefits adopting policies
and procedures to enable employees to adopt flexible working patterns. This
would help staff to become better motivated and more productive because
they were better able them to balance their work and other aspects of their
lives.

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Approaches To Work Design Conversely, casualisation is the process by which the power of employers to
give or refuse to give employment is greater than before. Many bosses are
introducing ‘zero hour’ contracts, where there is no assurance of work and one
is permanently on standby. This has the benefit to the bosses as workers are
not having any rights or protection under the law. The risk associated with the
uncertainties of unplanned economies, of having to pay idle workers for
instance, is transferred to the workers themselves. Many millions of jobs have
always been or are rapidly becoming casualised.
III. Macdonaldisation
Donaldisation (the modern form of Taylorism ) is a system of producing goods
and services in which the work process is broken into its smallest part,
systematically analyzed, re-engineered to maximise profit and replicated in each
and every working environment that produces those goods. Making things
becomes a series of entirely independent, discrete, controllable actions,
eliminating independent thought and creativity. Employees become estranged
from the process, required to perform a series of meaningless tasks. Such
alienation from the work produces depression, anger, an unthinking and uncaring
remoteness from other people.

Everywhere this process is used the bosses are happy with the amount
produced but appalled by its low quality. The labor turnover in these factories is
evidence of the determination of people to resist their exploitation. The bosses
get rid of any worker who shows signs of resistance or who are too
demoralised to produce efficiently.

This system is also often known as Toyotism, after the Toyota, Japan factory
system introduced in the 1960s and 1970s. The level of control over workers
has been deepened by the introduction of individual work contracts and other
processes that impose obligations to produce on the individual while weakening
collective agreements and relationships – creating what is known in Europe as
the ‘diffuse factory’. What is new about Toyotism is “just-in-time” production
and prompt reaction to market requirements; the imposition of multi-jobbing on
workers employed on several machines, either simultaneously or sequentially;
quality control throughout the entire flow of production and real-time information
on the progress of production in the factory. Production is often come to a
standstill and work-teams, departments or even the whole factory called to
account. Anybody who shows a waged-worker’s indifference to the company’s
productivity requirements and decides not to join “quality control” groups etc, is
stigmatised and encouraged to leave.

The same system is applied to the commodities that are used in the process
with every stage of how they are produced and processed minutely regulated.
A cow is not a living creature but a sack of usable and unusable meat, fat and
gristle. How the useful is divided from the not-so useful is a science in itself.
Increasingly consumption and leisure are being ‘McDonaldised’. Now we
expect to be able to find the same brand names throughout the world. Culture
is increasingly global but it also increasingly mass-manufactured and distributed,
designed for mass appeal .
IV. Commodification
Work used to be a purposeful and meaningful activity. There was spiritual
contentment in working and co-operating to meet the needs of oneself, ones
family and people. People chose the work they did if they could and invested
much of their personality and abilities in the making and production of useful,
better or beautiful things. Today, the supremacy of consumption as a social
good and conferrer of social status on people as individuals has made the
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product far more important than the producer . Work has died away to have a Emerging Issues of Work
Organisation and Quality
personal value for those who sweat. In many cases it does not have a social of Working Life
value to society.

Large amounts of work is simply about the reproduction of capitalism. It


matters only because this is the means by which capitalism rationalises itself
and produces the means – money – for its own continuation. The activity
produces nothing, except money, whose social value is zero. Work only matters
in terms of what is produced – the commodity - and the social and personal
value of what is produced to the person consuming it. Of course, many people
realise this but are themselves trapped by the artificial need and desire to
consume. We become our own gaoler! It is through consumption that the
majority channel their aspirations – to pleasure, to a sense of meaning and
personal identity. Our aspirations to freedom have been transferred from the
workplace to the rest of our lives but the commodification of personal life and
leisure has simply built more cares around our life. The refusal to work must
be accompanied by the refusal to consume (and vice versa), to participate in
the reproduction of everyday life through the production and consumption of
useless commodities via a co modified process: work.
V. Rescheduling Working Arrangements
Alternative ways of scheduling the days and hours of work are increasingly
common. These arrangements reshape the traditional schedules, such as the
40-hour week and 8 to 5 day, in ways that better accommodate individual
needs. These arrangements help employees balance work with their non-work
responsibilities and activities, and are among the innovations commonly found at
“family friendly” employers.
Compressed Workweek
A compressed workweek is any work schedule that allows a full-time job to
be completed in fewer than the standard five days. The most common
compressed workweek is the 4-40, where 40 hours of work are accomplished
in four 10-hour days. Someone working a 4-40 often benefits from increased
leisure time, more three-day weekends, free weekdays to pursue personal
business, and lower commuting costs. The organization can benefit, too, in
terms of reduced energy consumption during three-day shutdown, lower
employee absenteeism, improved recruiting of new employees, and the extra
time available for building and equipment maintenance. However, some
workers complain about increased fatigue from the extended workday and
family adjustment problems. Customer complaints occur due to service
interruptions and breaks in work coverage.
Part-Time Work
Part-time work has become increasingly common in modern society. It has
also proven controversial in some important respects. There are two kinds of
part-time work: (1) temporary part-time work is where an employee is
classified as “temporary” and works less than the standard (e.g.,40-hour
workweek), and (2) permanent part-time work is where a worker is
considered “permanent” but works fewer hours that the standard workweek.”

Organizations sometimes employ part-time workers in order to hold down


labor costs and more easily adjust staffing to peaks and valleys in the business
cycle. Both temporary and permanent part-time work can benefit people who
hold full-time jobs elsewhere, or who only want to work part-time for personal
reasons.

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Approaches To Work Design Job Sharing
Job sharing is dividing one full time work between two or more people
according to a schedule agreed to among themselves and the employer. The
two typically work different parts of the week with some overlapping work
time in the weekly schedule to coordinated activities. This works for some
people , but the major challenge is finding a partner with a compatible work
style and pace.
Telecommuting
Telecommuting describes work done in the home or in a remote location via
use of a computer and/or facsimile machine linked to a central office or other
employment locations. Sometimes this arrangement is called flexi place.
Teleworkers may be described as those who spend a substantial proportion of
their time at home and who use telephone and computers in the course of this
work. Studies of teleworking identify the main advantages as:
reduction in office costs;
increased motivation and productivity;
improved recruitment and retention;
more opportunities for those with family responsibilities and the disabled:
increased flexibility;
improvement in equal opportunities;
meeting employee demands;
reducing the time, cost and stress of commuting to and from work; and
less absenteeism.

The main disadvantages to the employee are social segregation and the
difficulty of self-motivation, and for the employer they are those of ensuring
effective communication and management and the difficulty of ensuring that the
worker complies with health and safety requirements. For teleworking to
succeed, there needs to be significant mutual trust between the employer and
employee plus clear goals and procedures for the workers involved.
Call Centres
On of the recent developments in organizations has been the growth of call
centers. These are functions within organizations designed to respond to a
large volume of calls from customers, or to generate sales, and comprise a
large number of operators, usually at least ten, whose role is to provide a first
line of service to callers. They are sometimes described as the battery farms
of the information age.

Call centers bring with them a whole thrust of different issues for organizations
to confront. These include:
how to maintain motivation and morale in such an environment;
how to measure and reward performance;
how to avoid high levels of stress arising from the intensive nature of the
work; and
ensuring that the call center staff have the required levels of skills and
training.

6
Activity A Emerging Issues of Work
Organisation and Quality
In the light of your work experience, elucidate whether flexible work of Working Life
arrangements actually help employees to balance work with their non work
responsibilities and activities ?
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Table 2: Difference Between Traditional Work and Knowledge Work

HRM dimension Knowledge work Traditional work

Employee’s career External to the organization Internal to the organization


Formation through years of education and through training, development,
socialisation rules and prescriptive career
schemes

Employee’s loyalty To professions, networks and To the organization and its career
peers systems

Skill/knowledge sets Specialised and deep, but often Narrow and often functional
with diffuse peripheral focuses

Locus of work In groups and projects Around individuals

Focus of work Customers, problems, issues Task, objectives, performance

Skill obsolescence Rapid Gradual

Activity/feedback Lengthy from a business Primary and of an immediate


cycles perspective nature

Performance measures Process effectiveness Potentially Task deliverables Little (as


great, but often erratic planned), but regular and
dependable

Impact on company A few major contributions of Many small contributions that


success strategic and long-term support the master plan
importance

Organizational Hierarchic, mechanistic, atomic Holographic, Organic, overlapping


structure

Control of work Vested in the supervisory Vested in the Individuals


process

Managerial functions Functions Process

Authority/power Hierarchical position, command Professional influence,


and control communication

Control of work Remains with central Negotiated between supervisors


outcomes management and groups of knowledge workers
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Approaches To Work Design VI. Growing Relevance of Knowledge Work
Over the years the relevance of knowledge work has been increased. The nature
of knowledge work is significantly different from traditional industrial work. Charles
Despres and Jean-Marie Hiltrop of The International Institute of Management
Development, Switzerland have defined these differences of knowledge and traditional
forms of work. These differences are illustrated in Table 2.

7.3 PROPHESYING THE FUTURE


A report published by the DTI’s Future Unit of U.K Government, ‘Work in the
Knowledge-Driven Economy’, takes a look at what work might be like in 15
years’ time and concludes that for many in this generation, the world of work
will be very different to that of their parents. It warns we must all prepare for
change and will need new skills in the work-place of the future. The report
envisages that:
The move from manufacturing to service sector jobs and from blue collar to
white collar jobs will continue.
White collar clerical work will decline whilst highly skilled knowledge-based
jobs will grow.
Service sector employment will become increasingly important as the ‘human
touch’ will be difficult to replicate with machines.
Teleworking could grow substantially.

The report develops two possible scenarios of the world in 2015 to help
understand how the future of work might change. These are:
‘Wired World’
Depicting an economy composed of a network of individuals, working on
projects through the Internet. In ‘Wired World’, individuals will no longer be
able to rely on the ‘comfort zones’ created by larger companies (personnel
advice, legal, marketing, technical and financial expertise). It is a world where
individuals develop sets of skills and a knowledge base and sell these to other
individuals or companies
‘Built to Last’
Describing a world in which large companies use incentive packages and other
powerful mechanisms to keep the knowledge of their employees in-house.

The future will contain elements of both scenarios and whatever the mix, if as
predicted the speed of change increases, people will have to become more
adaptable. This has implications for the skills that we need and the way we
learn.
Activity B
How do you see the future of your organization after a decade?
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Emerging Issues of Work
7.4 QUALITY OF WORK LIFE (QWL) Organisation and Quality
of Working Life
Organization, in the past, gave more importance on innovative technology for
higher productivity surpassing the needs and mental state of its employees.
This created a negative impact on the working environment among the
employees. Thus it was realised that societal support goes hand in hand with
technical innovations. This integration can only be made through quality of
work life programmes. Quality of work life refers to all the organizational
inputs which aim at the employee’s satisfaction and enhancing organizational
effectiveness.

Having concern with the life on the job is not new. The increased upheaval of
union activities in the 30s and 40s, through collective bargaining and legislations,
led to improved working conditions. Even before that, labour was vigorously
protesting management attempts to change the work environment. A study by
Professor Robert F.Hoxie, Chicago University in 1915, reported how the unions,
particularly the machinists, were fighting scientific management techniques. In
the late 1950s, the term QWL was used to stress the prevailing poor quality of
life at workplace and it was first defined then in terms of people’s reacting to
work, particularly an individual’s job satisfaction and mental health.

In the new economy , emphasis is placed upon the latest technology, most
ground-breaking management practices, and state-of-the-art office buildings.
However these are of no worth without the talent, commitment, and
contribution of a quality workforce. Every organization must do its best to
provide a working environment that is inclusive, enriching and encouraging to all
employees. This spirit must be visible in all work processes and benefits.
Meaning and Concept of QWL
The term ‘quality of work life (QWL) has different meanings of different
people. Some consider it industrial democracy or codetermination with
increased employee participation in the decision making process. For others,
particularly managers and administrators, the term denotes improvement in the
psychological aspects of work to improve productivity. Unions and workers
interpret it as more equitable sharing of profits, job security and healthy and
humane working conditions. Others view it as improving social relationships at
workplace through autonomous workgroups. Finally, others take a broader view
of changing the entire organizational climate by humanizing work, individualising
organizations and changing the structural and managerial systems.

In general terms, QWL, refers to the favorableness or unfavorable-ness of a


job environment for people. It refers to the quality of relationship between
employees and the total working environment. According to Harrison, QWL is
the degree to which work in an organization contributes to material and
psychological well-being of its members.One expert defines quality of working
life as “a process of joint decision making, collaboration and building mutual
respect between management and employees”. It is concerned with increasing
labour management cooperatives to solve the problems of improving
organizational performance and employee satisfaction. According to the
American Society of Training and Development, it is “a process of work
organization which enables its members at all levels to actively participate in
shaping the organization’s environment, methods and outcomes. This value
based process is aimed towards meeting the twin goals of enhanced effectiveness
of organization and improved quality of life at work for employees.

Broadly the definition of quality of work life involves four major parts: safe
work environment, occupational health care, suitable working time and
appropriate salary The safe work environment provides the basis for the person 9
Approaches To Work Design to enjoy working. The work should not pose a health hazard for the person.
The employer and employee, aware of their risks and rights, could achieve a
lot in their mutually beneficial dialogue The working time has been established
by the state according to legislation. The standard limits on overtime, rest days,
and public holidays etc. have also been stipulated. The appropriate salary is
agreed upon by the employee and the employer and fixed by the Pay
Commission. The Government also establishes the rate of minimum wage , the
employer should not pay less than that to the employee.

The concept of QWL is based on the assumption that a job is more than just
a job. It is the center of a person’s life. In recent years there has been
increasing concern for QWL due to several factors :
increase in education level and consequently job aspirations of employees;
association of workers;
significance of human resource management;
widespread industrial unrest;
growing of knowledge in human behaviour , etc.
Objectives of QWL
The main objectives of the QWL programs are to :
Improve employee satisfaction;
Improve physical and psychological health of employees which creates
positive feelings;
Enhance productivity of employees;
Reinforce workplace learning;
Improved management of the on-going change and transition; and
Build the image of the company as best in recruitment, retention, and in
general motivation of employees.
Basic Issues in QWL
Quality of work life is concerned with the following types of questions.
I. How to develop careers that allow employees to realize their full
capabilities and interest?
II. How to design jobs to provide meaningful, interesting and challenging
work experience?
III. How to utilize group dynamics and participative management to improve
the quality of life at the workplace?
IV. What supervisory strategies help to improve the quality of work life?
V. How can the desired organizational changes be carried out?
Activity C
Think of the job you now have . Discuss both the favorable and unfavorable
QWL characteristics contained in it.
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Characteristics of QWL Improvement Programmes Emerging Issues of Work
Organisation and Quality
The results, reported from a number of quality of work life improvement of Working Life
programmes, have some common characteristics. These are :
Persistent commitment from management to the open non-defensive modus
operandi of sincerely inviting collaborative inputs from the workforce
regarding problem identification and suggestions for improving any aspect of
the organization or the policies, practices and structure of work with
incentives provided for such participation.
Invited involvement of members of tasks groups in recommending
resolution of identified problem.
Training of supervisors to prepare them to function effectively in a less
authoritative style.
Implementation of practicable suggestion and explanations for rejected ideas.
Feedback and recognition for good results achieved.
Selection of personnel who can be motivated under appropriate conditions to
strive for excellence in task performance.
Evaluation and analysis of results, including failures, leading to renewed
effort towards continual improvement in modus operandi.
Eight Practices Of QWL
Quality of working life though came into circulation in 1970s became popular
only in 90s and organizations realised its potential to enhance the productivity in
the new century. This works as a comprehensive model to those employers
who want to ensure quality in working life of their employees. An ideal
quality of work life programme will include practices in eight major areas as
discussed below:

Adequate and fair compensation. This is fundamental to QWL. Human


beings work for livelihood. Therefore success of rest of the initiatives depends
upon fulfillment of this. However, important here is that compensation offered
must be adequate implying it must be proportionate to labour, and there should
be internal consistency among salaries of employees.

Safe and healthy working conditions. Unsafe and hazardous working


conditions cause problems to both employers and employees. There may be
little advantage to the employer in short-term but in medium and long-terms, it
adversely affects the productivity. Therefore, adequate investment must be
made to ensure safe and healthy working conditions.

Immediate opportunity of use and develop human capacities. The jobs have
become routine, meaningless and too specialized, depriving the employees of
fulfillment satisfaction. Therefore, efforts should be made to increase the
autonomy, perspective and exposure to multiple skills.

Future opportunity for continued growth and security. This is related to


career aspects of employees. Meaningful career paths must be laid down and
career mapping of employees is to be followed. The provision of advancement
opportunities play a central role in QWL.

Social integration in the work organization. Relationships between and


among the employees is an indicator of healthy work organization. Therefore,
opportunities must be provided for formal and informal interactions. All kind of
classes religions, races, crafts, and designations must be treated equally on a
social platform. In other words, it creates egalitarian environment.
11
Approaches To Work Design Constitutionalism in the work organization. This is related to organizational
norms that affect the freedom of an individual employee. Efforts must be
made to see right norms are formed in the organization. It means norms that
accommodate the privacy of an individual employee, freedom of speech, equity
and freedom to dissent on some aspects.

Work and the total life space. Employees should not be allowed to
continuously exert themselves. The continuous hard work causes psychological
and physical strains. Therefore, there has to be a balance between personal
and professional life. Organization must create proper work offs to enrich the
life of employees.

The social relevance of work life. Employees must be given the perspective
of how his/her work in the organization helps the society. This is essential to
build relevance of the employee’s existence to the society he/she lives in.
Techniques of Improving Quality of Work Life
The concept of quality of work life has been operationalised through various
systems such as job enrichment, workers’ participation in management,
organization development, quality circles, employee welfare, etc. While some
of these schemes have been successful in improving the quality of work life,
others are still to show results. The quality of work life movement is of recent
origin and has a long way to go. Individuals as well as organized efforts are
required to improve the quality of work life for millions of workers in the
country.

In 1981 the National Productivity Council organized a national seminar on


quality of work life. The seminar made several suggestions and pointed out the
responsibilities of different groups in improving the quality of work life. These
responsibilities are summarised below:
1. Responsibilities of Employers:

a. Provision of physical amenities at the work place, health and safety and
welfare provisions.
b. Involving workers in decision making on all matters.
c. Initiating suitable forms of work design.
d. Formalisation of QWL experience for future use.
e. A re-examination of policies of work.
f. Developing an appreciation of changing environment.
2. Responsibilities of unions and workers:

a. Educating and making workers aware of QWL.


b. Search areas of collaboration with management.
c. Identifying ways and means to satisfy workers’ needs through non-monetary
alternatives.
d. Organising labour in the unorganised sector and specially making them
aware of QWL
e. Encouraging workers to participate in QWL activites.
3. Responsibilities of professional organizations:

a. Organise workshops and seminars to bring about greater awareness of


QWL.
b. Initiate specific research projects in this field.
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c. Provide professional assistance to organizations to help generate internal Emerging Issues of Work
Organisation and Quality
competences. of Working Life
d. Developing state-of-art profiles on QWL.
e. Developing special programmes for various classes of workers.
f. Developing a network for collection, storage and dissemination of
information on QWL.
4. Responsibilities of the Government:

a. Legislating standards and norms in newer areas.


b. Change in policy to provide greater autonomy to experiment with QWL.
c. Executive action to ensure implementation of legislated facilities.
d. Encouragement and adoption of appropriate technology.
e. Finding projects on QWL.
f. Suitably modifying the structure and scope of education in the country.

Some of the techniques used to improve QWL of an average worker in India


are given below:
1. Job Redesign: Narrow jobs need to be combined into large units of
accomplishment. Jobs should be redesigned to enrich them, Job enrichment
helps to satisfy higher order needs by providing interesting, stimulating and
challenging work.
2. Career Development: Opportunity for career advancement and growth
personality improve commitment. Career planning, counseling second
careers, etc, help to meet expectations of achievement-oriented employees.
3. Autonomous Work Groups: In an autonomous work groups, employees
are given the freedom of decision making. In such a group the workers
themselves plan, coordinate and control their activities. The group as a
whole is accountable for success or failure. It is also called a self-managed
work team.
4. Flexible Work Schedules: Flexible working hours (flexitime), staggered
hours, reduced work weak, job sharing, part-time employment and other
types of alternative work schedules provide freedom to employee in
scheduling their work.
5. Participative Management: Employees want to participate in deciding
matters which affect their lives. Therefore, quality circles, management by
objectives, suggestion system and other forms of employees’ participation in
management help to improve QWL.
6. Job Security: Adequate security of job is a high priority of employees and
should be provided.
7. Administrative Justice: The principles of justice, fair and quality should be
applied in disciplinary procedure, grievance procedures, promotions, transfers,
work assignment, leave, etc.
The Role of the Supervisor in QWL
The Supervisor is one key to the quality-of –work life. A study by University
of Michigan which sought to relate a large number of characteristics of
workers jobs to overall satisfaction illustrates the wide variety of ways by
which supervisory behaviour affects subordinate satisfaction. The eight most
closely related factors are listed below:
Having a ‘nurturant’ supervisor
Receiving adequate help, assistance, etc.
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Approaches To Work Design Having a few ‘labour standard problems’ (such as safety hazards, non-
availability of materials, or poor transportation)
Fair promotional policies
Supervisor not supervising too closely
Having a technically competent supervisor
Autonomy in matters affecting work
A job with ‘enriching’ demands.

The supervisor influences quality of work life directly or indirectly. He affects


subordinates directly through his daily interaction with them. He can be
supportive or disagreeable, friendly or distant, available to provide help or
always busy. He influences the design of jobs, plays a key role in the
administration of career and reward systems, and is also in a position to foster
the development of social systems. Nonetheless, the vigilant supervisor can join
together these factors so that quality of work life will be enhanced as well as
organizational objectives will be accomplished.
The Role of the Management in QWL
Management has to play a very significant role in improving quality of life of
employees. Management must strive to make the quality of employees work
life as satisfying as possible. At the moment employees are challenged as
never before to balance work and personal responsibilities. Therefore the
management should continually addresses these challenges by utilising personnel
flexibilities and establishing programs that help employees meet their work and
personal obligations.

The steps that should be taken by the management are :


Establishing appropriate, reasonable and enforced work rules. Work rules
can help to create and maintain an orderly atmosphere that is pleasant to
work in where employees can work effectively. Work rules can help
improve quality of work life by:
creating an atmosphere where employees are treated with dignity and
respect.
helping to ensure that employees conduct themselves in a professional and
safe manner.
encouraging open communication between employees .
ensuring that all employees are treated fairly and that they follow the same
rules.
Develop and implement a flexible work policy and procedure
Provide training to managers and supervisors on how to respond effectively
to work life issues
Provide resiliency and personal accountability training for staff
Invest in organization-specific quality of work life programs in eldercare,
childcare, diversity, etc.
Encourage participative work teams to reinforce an environment of trust and
help employees to work more effectively and efficiently in order to
accomplish organisation mission.
Provide employees assistance through the Employee Assistance Program
(EAP), a free, confidential counseling and referral service to resolve
personal problems.
Actively support employee health and wellness .

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How to Measure QWL Emerging Issues of Work
Organisation and Quality
The following indices may be used to judge the quality of work life in an of Working Life
organizaton:
Job Involvement : It represents the degree of an individual’s identification
with or ego involvement in the job. The more central the job is to the
individual’s life, the greater is his involvement in it. Therefore, the individual
spends more time and energy on the job. People with high job involvement
are better motivated and more productive. Research reveals that skill
variety, achievement and challenge help to improve job involvement.
Job Satisfaction: It implies the worker’s satisfaction with the environment
of his job environment consisting of nature of work, quality of supervision,
pay, coworkers, opportunities for promotion, etc. Job satisfaction is related
to job involvement and people involved in their jobs are satisfied with their
jobs and vice versa.
Sense of Competence: It refers to the feelings of confidence that an
individual has in his own competence. Sense of competence and job
involvement reinforce each other. An individual acquires a greater sense of
competence as he engages himself more and more in work activities. When
he feels more competent he become more involved in his job and becomes
better motivated.
Job Performance : When an individual’s job involvement, job satisfaction
and sense of competence increase, there is a rise in job performance.
Productivity: When the level of job performance increases the output per
unit of input goes up. Thus, match between job characteristics and
productivity traits of employees generally result in higher productivity.
The Effect Of Quality Work Life
The positive aspects of QWL are:.
Improved communication and co-ordination among the workers and
organization helps to integrate different jobs resulting in better task
performance.
Better working condition enhances workers motivation to work in a healthy
atmosphere resulting in motivation and increase in production.
As QWL includes participation in group discussion and solving the problem,
improving the skill, enhancing their capabilities and thus building confidence
and increased output.
QWL attracts talented employees and make them loyal towards the
organization.
Making employees feel valued .
Increased productivity
Reduced absenteeism
Earned the reputation of being an employer of choice
Retaining valued employees .
Help employees to have work-life balance .

The net result is - more satisfied and productive workers produce better and
quality products .
Activity D
What is work-life balance? How is it beneficial to both employers and
employees?
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Approaches To Work Design ...........................................................................................................................
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Conditions for Successful QWL Programs
The following conditions are highly essential for the success of QWL
programmes.
Shared recognition of a need for change.
Strong leadership.
Collaborative planning for change.
Allocation of adequate resources to manage the change.
Invitation to a third party who can introduce novel ideas , serve as a
communication link, and help eliminate stereotypes and distrust.

7.5 SUMMARY
In the “new economy” there are several changes in the nature of economic
activity, such as strong growth in the services sector, increased levels of
productivity growth and globalised markets . Companies are designing their
work systems around the following four pillars: virtual organizations, flexible and
adaptive workforce, contingent pay and democratic governance at workplace.
Job insecurity and work intensification, flexibilisation & casualisation ,
Macdonaldisation, co modification, emergence of knowledge workers and
rescheduling working arrangements are a few changes taken place in the
organization in the New- Economy.

QWL, refers to the favorableness or unfavorable-ness of a job environment


for people. Making employees feel valued, increased productivity , reduced
absenteeism earning the reputation of being an employer of choice, retaining
valued employees , and helping employees to have work-life balance etc. are
some of the positive aspects of QWL.

7.6 SELF ASSESSMENT QUESTIONS


1. Write an essay on the upcoming trends in work organisations.
2. What are the eight practices of QWL?
3. Discuss the role of supervisor and of the management in QWL.

7.7 FURTHER READINGS


Gupta, C.B. Human Resource Management, Sultan Chand & Sons, 2002.

http://www.jrf.uk/ www.\WORK.htm

Schermerhorn, Jr. John R. Hunt, James G. and Osborn, Richard N., Basic
Organisational Behaviour, John Wiley & Sons .Inc. , USA, 1998.

Shirley Dex and Fiona Scheibl, “Human Resource Management in the


knowledge Age: Current Practice and Perspectives on the Future”, Employee
Relations, 1995.
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