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Quality of Work Life (QWL)

Employees at the grass-root level experience a sense of frustration because of low level of wages, poor working conditions, unfavorable terms of employment, inhuman treatment by their superiors and the like whereas managerial personal feel frustrated because of alienation over their conditions of employment, inter-personal conflicts, role conflicts, job pressures, lack of freedom in work, absence of challenging work etc. Certain values were attributed to work in the past. Work was worship and people had sincerity and commitment to work. But todays employee would not believe in such values of work. He works for his salary, he works hard if the conditions of work are conducive and congenial and terms of employment are favorable to him. As such the work norms have been changing from time-to-time. Work norms in modern industrial society indicate that (i) employees role in industry is different from his role in the family, (ii) superior knows the best and he has the right to impose on the subordinates, (iii) rules are for employees and they have to follow them, and (iv) employer has the right to layoff the workers due to marketing and technological factors. The term Quality of Work Life aims at changing the entire organizational climate by humanizing work, individualizing organizations and changing the structural and managerial systems. It takes into consideration the socio-psychological needs of employees. It seeks to create such a culture of work commitment in the organizations which will ensure higher productivity and greater job satisfaction of the employees. Quality of Work Life or (QWL) is a prescriptive concept; it attempts to design work environments so as to maximize concern for human welfare. It is a goal, as well as a process. The goal is the creation of more involving, satisfying and effective jobs and work environment for people at all levels of the organization. As a process, QWL involves efforts to realize this goal through active participation. The whole essence of QWL may be stated thus; The QWL is cooperative rather than authoritarian: evolutionary and open rather than static and rigid; informal rather than rule-bound; impersonal rather than mechanistic; mutual respect and trust rather than hatred against each other. According to Lloyd 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. It focuses on the problem creating a human working environment where

employees work cooperatively and achieve results collectively. QWL, as it is understood today, includes four essential elements: a. The programme seeks to promote human dignity and growth. b. Employees work collaboratively. c. They determine work changes participatively. d. The programmes assume compatibility of people and organizational goals. QWL, in short, refers to the level of satisfaction, motivation, involvement and commitment individuals experience with respect to their lives at work.

The Concept of Quality of Work Life (QWL)


Quality of Work Life refers to the favorableness or unfavorableness of the job environment of an organization for its employees. It is generic term which covers a persons feelings about every dimension of his work e.g. economic incentives an rewards, job security, working conditions, organizational and interpersonal relationships etc. The term QWL has different meanings for different people. A few important definitions are According to Harrison QWL is the degree to which work in an organization contributes to material and psychological well being of its members. According to D. S. Cohan QWL is a process of joint decision making collaborations and building mutual respect between management and employees. According to American Society of Training and Development QWL is a process of work organization which enables its members at all levels to participate actively and effectively in shaping the organizations environment, methods and outcomes. It is a value based process which is aimed towards meeting the twin goals of enhanced effectiveness of the organization and improved quality of life at work for the employees. QWL influences the productivity of the employees. Researchers have proved that good QWL leads to psychologically and physically healthier employees with positive feelings. To summarize, QWL is the degree to which employees of an organization are able to satisfy their personal needs through experience in the organization. Its main aim is to create a work environment where employees work in cooperation with each other and contribute to organizational objectives.

Scope of QWL
Quality of Working Life is a multi dimensional aspect. The workers expect the following needs to be fulfilled by organizations:
1. Compensation. The reward for work should be above a minimum standard for life

and should also be equitable. There should be a just an equitable balance between the effort and the reward.
2. Health and Safety. The working environment should be free from all hazards

detrimental to the health and safety of the employees. The main elements of a good physical environment for work should be reasonable hours of work, cleanliness, pollution free atmosphere, risk free work etc,.
3. Job Security. The organization should offer security of employment. Employees

should not have to work under a constant concern for their future stability of work and income.
4. Job Design. The design of jobs should be such which is capable of meeting the needs

of the organization for production and the individual for satisfying and interesting work. Quality of Work Life can be improved if the job allows sufficient autonomy and control, provides timely feed back on performance and uses a wide range of skills.
5. Social Integration. The workers should be able to feel a sense of identity with the

organization of discrimination and individualism, whilst encouraging teams and social groups to form.
6. Social Relevance of Work. Work should not only be a source of material and

psychological satisfaction, but also a means of social welfare. An organization that has greater concern for social causes can improve the QWL.
7. Scope for Better Career Opportunities. The management should provide facilities to

the employees for improving their skills both academic and otherwise. The management should always think of utilizing human resources or expansion and development of the organizations.

Major Issues in QWL


The major factors that affect the quality of work life may be stated thus:
a. Pay: QWL is basically built around the concept of equitable pay. In the days ahead,

employees may want to participate in the profits of the firm as well. Employees must be paid their due share in the progress and prosperity of the firm.
b. Benefits: Workers throughout the globe have raised their expectations over the years

and now feel entitled to benefits that were once considered a part of the bargaining process. Apart form safe and healthy working conditions; they would love to have benefits of all kinds form the employer(s).
c. Job Security: Employees want stability of employment. They do not like to be

victims of whimsical personnel policies and stay at the mercy of employers. The workplace should offer security of employment and the question of layoffs is opposed tooth and nail by all categories of employees these days.
d. Alternative Work Schedule: Employees demand more freedom at the workplace,

especially in scheduling their work. Among the alternative work schedules capable of enhancing the quality of work life for some employees are:
i. Flexitime: A system of flexible working hours. ii. Staggered hours: Here groups of employees begin and end work at

different intervals.
iii. Compressed workweek: It involves more hours of work per day for

fewer days, per week.


iv. Job enrichment: It attempts to increase a persons level of output by

providing that person with exciting, interesting, stimulating or challenging work. Such work, in turn, gives a person a chance to satisfy higher level needs and is therefore a motivational influence.
v. Autonomous work groups (AWGs): Here a group of workers will be

given some control of decision-making on production methods, distribution of tasks, recruitment of team members, selection of team leaders, work schedules and so on. Here the work groups are given responsibility for a task area without day-to-day supervision and with authority to influence and control both group members and their

behavior. In Volvos automobile plant in Kamar, Sweden, autonomous teams of 20 workers were created to put together entire units of cars, such as electrical system or the engine. The cars moved about the plant on a separate computer-controlled carrier. Each worker was asked to carry out a series of tasks over several minutes, rather than a single task lasting a few seconds. In addition, workers on a team were taught several jobs to build in variety and to permit them cover for sick or vacationing teammates. The results were stunning. Volvo was able to reduce the number of defects by over 40%, and the labor hours that go into making a car per day 40% while increasing inventory turnover form 9 times per year to 22 (Steve Lohr). Seeing the results, a number of companies in other countries have followed suit, with equally impressive results. AWGs generally elect an internal leader who also serves as a full time member. Management may appoint an external leader to coordinate the work and to play the role of a facilitator. He basically assists the group in receiving the feedback on the quality and quality of their performance form the perspective of internal and external customers as well as makes any structural changes in the work design. He is also responsible for helping the group acquire needed resources and technical help.
e. Occupational stress: Occupational mental-health programmes dealing with stress are

beginning to emerge as a new and important aspect of QWL programmes in recent years. Obviously, an individual suffering from an uncomfortable amount of jobrelated stress cannot enjoy a high quality of work life. To this end, the Human Resource Managers have to look into the working conditions, nature of work, workers abilities, etc. There must be a conscious attempt to put employees on jobs that are best suited to their talents. All avenues must be kept open so that employees not only use their talents in the service of organizational goals, but also use such contributions for their career advancement. In other words, to reduce job-related stress, the organization must ensure the best fit between employee capabilities and organizational requirements and thereby ensure continued development of people at all levels.

f. Worker participation: Employees have a genuine hunger for participation in

organizational issues affecting their lives. Naturally, they demand far more participation in the decision-making process at the workplace. They want more democratic employer-employee relationships. Human Resource Managers, therefore, must be sensitive to the internal sounds and sights of the corporate citizens who are voluntary members of the organization and provide for a less autocratic and more participative style of leadership.
g. Social integration: According to Prof. Walton, the work environment should provide

opportunities for preserving an employees personal identity and self-esteem through freedom from prejudice, a sense of community, interpersonal openness and the absence of satisfaction in the organization. There should be equal treatment in the workplace.
h. Work and total life space: A persons work should not overbalance his life. Ideally

speaking, work schedules, career demands and other job requirements should not eat too much into a persons leisure time and family life.

QWL Councils
The QWL council consists of a steering committee and other departmental committees. The main purpose of creating QWL councils is to improve the QWL of people working at various levels in the organization by redesigning organizational work and systems along the lines suggested above. Principles of QWL According to N. Q. Herrick and M. Maccoby there are four basic principles, which will humanize work and improve the QWL:
1. The Principle of Security. Quality of Work Life cannot be improved until employees

are relieved of the anxiety, fear and loss of future employment. The working conditions must be safe and fear of economic want should be eliminated. Job Security and safety against occupational hazards is an essential precondition of humanization of work.
2. The Principle of Equity. There should be a direct and positive relation between effort

and reward. All types of discrimination between people doing similar work and with

same level of performance must be eliminated. Equity also requires sharing the profits of the organization.
3. The Principle of Individualism. Employees differ in terms of their attitudes, skills,

potential etc. Therefore, every individual should be provided the opportunities for development of his personality and potential. Humanization of work requires that employees are able to decide their own pace of activities and design of work operations.
4. The Principle of Democracy. This means greater authority and responsibility to

employees. Meaningful participation in decision making process improves the QWL.

How to measure QWL?


Several tools have been developed by social scientists to measure and evaluate QWL programmes in organizations. These include Work-Related Quality of Life scale (WRQoL), indicates that this assessment device should prove to be a useful instrument, although further evaluation would be useful. The WRQoWL measure uses six core factors to explain most of the variation in an individuals Quality of Working Life: Job and Career Satisfaction; Working Conditions; General Well-Being; HomeWork Interface; Stress at Work and Control at Work. The Job & Career Satisfaction (JCS) scale of the Work-Related Quality of Life scale (WRQoL) is said to reflect an employees feelings about, or evaluation of, their satisfaction or contentment with their job and career and the training they receive to do it. Within the WRQoL measure, JCS is reflected by questions asking how satisfied people feel about their work. It has been proposed that this Positive Job Satisfaction factor is influenced by various issues including clarity of goals and role ambiguity, appraisal, recognition and reward, personal development career benefits and enhancement and training needs. The General well-being (GWB) scale of the Work-Related Quality of Life scale (WRQoL), aims to assess the extent to which an individual feels good or content in themselves, in a way which may be independent of their work situation. It is suggested that general well-being both influences, and is influenced by work. Mental health problems, predominantly depression and anxiety disorders, are common, and may have a major impact on the general well-being of the population. The WRQoL GWB factor assesses issues of mood, depression and anxiety, life satisfaction, general quality of life, optimism and happiness.

The WRQoL Stress at Work sub-scale (SAW) reflects the extent to which an individual perceives they have excessive pressures, and feel stressed at work. The WRQoL SAW factor is assessed through items dealing with demand and perception of stress and actual demand overload. Whilst it is possible to be pressured at work and not be stressed at work, in general, high stress is associated with high pressure. The Control at Work (CAW) subscale of the WRQoL scale addresses how much employees feel they can control their work through the freedom to express their opinions and being involved in decisions at work. Perceived control at work as measured by the WorkRelated Quality of Life scale (WRQoL) is recognized as a central concept in the understanding of relationships between stressful experiences, behavior and health. Control at work, within the theoretical model underpinning the WRQoL, is influenced by issues of communication at work, decision making and decision control. The WRQoL Home-Work Interface scale (HWI) measures the extent to which an employer is perceived to support the family and home life of employees. This factor explores the interrelationship between home and work life domains. Issues that appear to influence employee HWI include adequate facilities at work, flexible working hours and the understanding of managers. The Working Conditions scale of the WRQoL assesses the extent to which the employee is satisfied with the fundamental resources, working conditions and security necessary to do their job effectively. Physical working conditions influence employee health and safety and thus employee Quality of Working Life. This scale also taps into satisfaction with the resources provided to help people do their jobs. Apart from there are few general concepts are there to measure quality of work life. They are listed below. Turnover data Morale surveys Number of grievances handled Absenteeism data Performance criteria Personal interviews carried out from time to time

Models and components of Quality of Working Life Various authors and researchers have proposed models of Quality of Working Life which include a wide range of factors. Selected models are reviewed below. Hackman and Oldham (1976) drew attention to what they described as psychological growth needs as relevant to the consideration of Quality of Working Life. Several such needs were identified:

Skill variety Task Identity Task significance Autonomy Feedback

They suggested that such needs have to be addressed if employees are to experience high Quality of Working Life. In contrast to such theory based models, Taylor (1979) more pragmatically identified the essential components of Quality of Working Life as basic extrinsic job factors of wages, hours and working conditions, and the intrinsic job notions of the nature of the work itself. He suggested that a number of other aspects could be added, including:

Individual power Employee participation in the management Fairness and equity Social support Use of ones present skills Self development A meaningful future at work Social relevance of the work or product Effect on extra work activities

Taylor suggested that relevant Quality of Working Life concepts may vary according to organization and employee group. Warr and colleagues (1979), in an investigation of Quality of Working Life, considered a range of apparently relevant factors, including:

Work involvement Intrinsic job motivation Higher order need strength Perceived intrinsic job characteristics Job satisfaction Life satisfaction Happiness Self-rated anxiety

They discussed a range of correlations derived from their work, such as those between work involvement and job satisfaction, intrinsic job motivation and job satisfaction, and perceived intrinsic job characteristics and job satisfaction. In particular, Warr-et-al found evidence for a moderate association between total job satisfaction and total life satisfaction and happiness, with a less strong, but significant association with self-rated anxiety. Thus, whilst some authors have emphasized the workplace aspects in Quality of Working Life, others have identified the relevance of personality factors, psychological well being, and broader concepts of happiness and life satisfaction. Factors more obviously and directly affecting work has, however, served as the main focus of attention, as researchers have tried to tease out the important influences on Quality of Working Life in the workplace. Mirvis and Lawler (1984) suggested that Quality of Working Life was associated with satisfaction with wages, hours and working conditions, describing the basic elements of a good quality of work life as:

Safe work environment Equitable wages

Equal employment opportunities Opportunities for advancement

Baba and Jamal (1991) listed what they described as typical indicators of Quality of Working Life, including:

Job satisfaction Job involvement Work role ambiguity Work role conflict Work role overload Job stress Organizational commitment Turn-over intentions

Baba and Jamal also explored routinization of job content, suggesting that this facet should be investigated as part of the concept of Quality of Working Life. Some have argued that Quality of Working Life might vary between groups of workers. For example, Ellis and Pompli (2002) identified a number of factors contributing to job dissatisfaction and Quality of Working Life in nurses, including:

Poor working environments Resident aggression Workload, inability to deliver quality of care preferred Balance of work and family Shift work Lack of involvement in decision making Professional isolation Lack of recognition Poor relationships with supervisor/peers

Role conflict Lack of opportunity to learn new skills

Sirgy et al. (2001) suggested that the key factors in Quality of Working Life are:

need satisfaction based on job requirements need satisfaction based on work environment need satisfaction based on supervisory behavior need satisfaction based on ancillary programmes Organizational commitment.

They defined Quality of Working Life as satisfaction of these key needs through resources, activities, and outcomes stemming from participation in the workplace. Needs as defined by the psychologist, Abraham Maslow, were seen as relevant in underpinning this model, covering health & safety, economic and family, social, esteem, actualization, knowledge and aesthetics, although the relevance of non-work aspects is play down as attention is focused on quality of work life rather than the broader concept of quality of life. These attempts at defining Quality of Working Life have included theoretical approaches, lists of identified factors, co-relational analyses, with opinions varying as to whether such definitions and explanations can be both global, or need to be specific to each work setting. Bearfield, (2003) used 16 questions to examine Quality of Working Life, and distinguished between causes of dissatisfaction in professionals, intermediate clerical, sales and service workers, indicating that different concerns might have to be addressed for different groups. The distinction made between job satisfaction and dissatisfaction in Quality of Working Life reflects the influence of job satisfaction theories. Herzberg at al., (1959) used Hygiene factors and Motivator factors to distinguish between the separate causes of job satisfaction and job dissatisfaction. It has been suggested that Motivator factors are intrinsic to the job, that is; job content, the work itself, responsibility and advancement. The Hygiene factors or dissatisfaction-avoidance factors include aspects of the job environment such as interpersonal relationships, salary, working conditions and security. Of these latter, the most common cause of job dissatisfaction can be company policy and administration, whilst achievement can be the greatest source of extreme satisfaction.

An individuals experience of satisfaction or dissatisfaction can be substantially rooted in their perception, rather than simply reflecting their real world. Further, an individuals perception can be affected by relative comparison am I paid as much as that person - and comparisons of internalized ideals, aspirations, and expectations, for example, with the individuals current state (Lawler and Porter, 1966). In summary, where it has been considered, authors differ in their views on the core constituents of Quality of Working Life (e.g. Sirgy, Efraty, Siegel & Lee, 2001and Warr, Cook & Wall, 1979). It has generally been agreed however that Quality of Working Life is conceptually similar to well-being of employees but differs from job satisfaction which solely represents the workplace domain (Lawler, 1982). Quality of Working Life is not a unitary concept, but has been seen as incorporating a hierarchy of perspectives that not only include work-based factors such as job satisfaction, satisfaction with pay and relationships with work colleagues, but also factors that broadly reflect life satisfaction and general feelings of well-being (Danna & Griffin, 1999). More recently, work-related stress and the relationship between work and non-work life domains (Loscocco & Roschelle, 1991) have also been identified as factors that should conceptually be included in Quality of Working Life.

Obstacles of QWL Programme


It is not easy to implement QWL programmes. Many hurdles do crop from time to time. These are:

Managerial Attitude: QWL demands democratization at in the work place. Managers must be willing to share their decision making powers with employees. They must allow employees to speak up and participate actively in organizational matters. However, this is easier said than done. Managers may consider the whole affair as a threat to their existence. They may be reluctant to give a part of the decision making power which traditionally belongs to them.

Unions Attitude: Unions may have a genuine feeling that QWL programmes speed up work performance and achieve productively improvements without offering adequate returns to workers. QWL may be another ingenious device to extract more work from workers. It may be a productivity ploy. To allay, such fears, management

need to sell the QWL programme, explaining the purposes, and the benefits that are likely to accrue to employees in the ling run.

Cost Considerations: The capital costs and the day-to-day operational expenses of QWL programmes seem to be quite phenomenal beyond the reach of an organization. Moreover, there is no guarantee that the programme will yield positive results (the results from General Motors and Volvo were mixed). As a justification in may, however, be added that the programme needs to be implemented cautiously, keeping a close watch on the budget.

Techniques for Improving QWL


The QWL movement is for recent origin and has a long way to go. Individual as well as organized efforts are required to improve the QWL for millions of workers in the country. QWL efforts generally try to instill in employees the feelings of security, equity, pride, ownership, autonomy, responsibility and flexibility. They try to treat employees in a fair and supportive way, to open up communication channels at all levels, to offer employees opportunities to participate in decisions affecting them, and to empower them to deliver results independently using their talents fully. In order to improve the quality of working life
1. Flexible Work Schedules. There should be flexibility in the work schedules of the

employees. Alternative work schedules for the employees can be flexi-time, staggered hours, compressed work week etc. Flexi-time is a system of flexible working hours, staggered hours schedule means that different groups of employees begin and end work at different intervals. Compressed work week involves longer hours of work per day for fewer days per week.
2. Job Redesign. Job redesigning or job enrichment improves the quality of the jobs. It

attempts to provide a person with exciting, interesting, stimulating and challenging work. It helps to satisfy the higher level needs of the employees.
3. Opportunity for Development. Career development is very important for ambitious

and achievement oriented employees. If the employees are provided with opportunities for their advancement and growth, the will be highly motivated and their commitment to the organization will increase.
4. Effective leadership and Supervisory behavior. For effective leadership and

supervisory behavior 9-9 style of managerial grid is suitable.

5. Autonomous Work Groups. Autonomous Work Groups are also called self managed

work teams. In such groups the employees are given freedom of decision making. They are themselves responsible for planning, organizing, and controlling the activities of their groups. The groups are also responsible for their success of failure.
6. Career Development. Provision for career planning, communicating and counseling

the employees about the career opportunities, career path, education and development and for second careers should be made.
7. Employees Participation in Management. People in the organization should be

allowed to participate in the management decisions affecting their lives. Quality Circles, Management by Objectives, Suggestion System and other forms of employees participation in management help to improve the QWL.
8. Job Security. Employees want stability of employment. Adequate job security

provided to the employees will improve the QWL to a large extent.


9. Equitable Justice. The principle of equitable administrative justice should be applied

in disciplinary actions, grievance procedures, promotions, transfers, work assignments etc. Particularly and biasness at any stage can discourage the workers and affect the QWL. There few aspect to be strengthened. The following things need to be strengthened:
1. Employment conditions (safety, health, physical environment) 2. Equitable rewards (pay, incentives, benefits, services)

3. Job security 4. Enhancing the self esteem of people 5. Participative climate and team spirit 6. Training to employees, managers and supervisors so that they share the vision, values and culture of the organization 7. Autonomy to draw resources and deliver results 8. Recognition for work done, followed by rewards so as to encourage commitment and belongingness 9. Congenial worker supervisor relations; offering proper feedback on results achieved 10. Job redesign and job enrichment

11. Open and transparent management style 12. An atmosphere of trust and open communication To be successful, QWL programmes must be planned thoroughly. The aspirations and attitudes of workers must be examined closely before launching any program. The work must be studied carefully and a congenial work atmosphere must be provided where the work itself provokes interest and workers genuinely desire to progress on their own. Above all, supervisors and line managers must be adequately trained to interact with employees in a friendly and democratic manner.

QWL and Productivity


The general perception is that improvements in QWL cost much to the organization. But it is not so, as improvement over the existing salary, working conditions and benefits will not cost much. However, the rate of increase in productivity is higher than that of cost of QWL. Thus, increase in QWL results in increase in productivity. But continual increase in QWL eventually leads to reduction in productivity due to increase in cost of output. This is because the workers output does not increase proportionately after a certain level even though QWL increases. Improved QWL leads to improved performance. Performance should mean not only physical output but also the behavior of the worker in helping colleagues in solving job related problems, accepting orders with enthusiasm, promoting a positive team spirit and accepting temporary unfavorable work conditions without complaint.

Quality of Work Life and Human Resources Management


Quality of work life is broader than motivation though these two terms seem to be similar. All personnel related activities affect quality of work life. Some examples are:

HR Activity
Job Analysis Selection Job enrichment Job evaluation

Effect on Quality of Work Life


Analyze the job in such a way that human needs like freedom, challenging work, autonomy can be satisfied Selecting the right man and placing him in the right position. This satisfies his needs for reward, interesting work etc. Satisfied higher order needs like pride, ego. Equitable wages.

Barriers to Quality of Work Life


Quality of work Life suffers from barriers like any other new scheme. Management employees and unions fear the effect of unknown change. All these parties feel that the benefits of this concept are few though they are convinced about its effect on personnel management as a whole and on the individual parties separately, management should develop strategies to improve quality of work life in view of the barriers.

Quality of Work Life in an Organization