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Work and Life Programs: Benefitting Employees and Employers

            Working families face many pressures that put an added stress on the individual, the family, and the company for which they work. In organizations and on the home front, the challenge of work/life balance is rising to the top of many employers' and employees' consciousness. In today's fast-paced society, human resource professionals seek options to positively impact the bottom line of their companies, improve employee morale, retain employees with valuable company knowledge, and keep pace with workplace trends (HR Practices).
             In a society filled with conflicting responsibilities and commitments, work/life balance has become a predominant issue in the workplace. There are three major factors that contribute to the interest in, and the importance of, serious consideration of work/life balance. These are global competition, a renewed interest in personal lives and family values, and an aging workforce (Carey). Work/life balance is defined as "a state of equilibrium in which the demands of both a person's job and personal life are equal."" The term "work/life balance- was coined in 1986, although its usage in everyday language was sporadic for a number of years. Work/life programs actually existed as early as the 1930s. Before World War II, the Kellogg Company created four six-hour shifts to replace the traditional three daily eight-hour shifts, and the new shifts resulted in increased employee morale and efficiency (Alternative). .
             In the 1980s and 1990s, companies began to offer work/life programs. While the first wave of these programs were primarily to support women with children, today's work/life programs are less gender-specific and recognize other commitments as well as those of the family (HR Practices). Work/life balance initiatives are not only a United States phenomenon. Employees in global communities also want flexibility and control over their work and personal lives.

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