Over the past sixty years the traditional work-life balance schedule has enormously changed. When my father grew up in the 1950s, a typical business was open for customers Monday through Friday. Weekends were almost like weekly sacred holidays, with Saturday designated for family and Sunday for faith and community involvement. The work day began at 8am, ending at 5pm with an hour for lunch. Work-life balance was predetermined with economic standards of industry competition. Businesses searching for new ways to compete, started to cross those traditional predetermined work day boundaries for work-life balance. They started to create conveniences for their customers to acquire more business. The concept of being available for business during the time that was most convenient for their customer started to become common practice. That model of convenience for some businesses has evolved into a 24 hour, 7 days a week work day environment competing for patrons. “Although the workforce has transformed since the 1950s, an ideology that naturalized work/home separation persists” (Davies, & Frink, 2014, para.
1). Fifty years ago, it would have been impossible to think that even librarians would be experiencing atypical work hours of evening/night shifts. Evening/night shift librarians could experience problems of balancing family obligations and work commitments (Pearson, 2015). An option given to hospital librarians is job sharing. Physicians, faculty, pharmacists and nurses are just some of the positions held by people who job share (Spencer, 2017). “Employees who value work–life balance and employers with employees who have significant family responsibilities have considered flex-time, reduced hours, job sharing, other part-time employment, and compressed workweeks as a panacea for the challenges and stresses of juggling work and non-work demands” (Barnett, Gordon, Gareis, & Morgan, 2004, pg. 228). According to Barnett, et al. (2004), Aetna Health Care in Hartford, Connecticut, has used flexible work arrangements to meet customer demands for 24/7 support and to control turnover. Research indicates that within the hospital librarian and health insurance customer service professions, providing employees with a Human Resource (HR) benefit plan that includes flexible work arrangement options for modifying their work schedule has given the employees the support to reduce work–life scheduling conflicts. Flexible work hours directly increase return on labor and indirectly through reduction in staff turnover with a positive effect on job satisfaction (Kotey, & Sharma, 2019). Implementing a HR benefit plan with a flexible work arrangement policy for nurses and physicians should provide flexibility in scheduling allowing for a work-life balance satisfaction reducing turnover.
Flexible Work Schedule Policies
A benefit plan supporting a flexible work schedule would have the policies of job sharing with an option for reduced or additional hours, on-line scheduling and a compressed workweek. A job-sharing with reduced or additional hours policy would allow for the HealthCare Organization (HCO) employees to submit a formal request for reduced or additional hours of job responsibility in collaboration with another employee. The job-sharing request could be a job redesign request that spreads the job responsibilities of one full-time employee to two part-time employees. This would allow for two nurses with unforeseen work-life balance changes, such as caring for an aging loved the flexibility to develop a work arrangement that allows them to coordinate a scheduling that benefits both of their work-life balance challenges. A job-sharing policy could also benefit a primary-care physician by shifting some of their responsibilities of on-call night-time coverage to other physicians within the HCO as a long-term or short-term flexible work arrangement. On-line scheduling and a Compressed Work week would give nurses the ability to control the number of hours and days scheduled on a monthly basis. A predetermined day each month the floor nurse manager would allow online log-in to a scheduling program providing nurses with 8 hour or 12 shift options. Scheduling more than 40 hours within a work week would require manager pre-approval. Online employee scheduling is increasing in popularity among technologically advanced hourly workers providing them scheduling flexibility that is increasing their sense of job autonomy (Xu, Van Hoof, & Nyheim, 2018). Xu, et. al. (2018), explained, studies have found that online scheduling helps to enhance employees’ personal well-being through satisfaction with schedule flexibility and job autonomy.
If organizations fail to create and articulate a meaningful career path for their reduced hours staff employees, it could result in the unintended consequence of them having a feeling of low job security increasing their likelihood to leave (Barnett, et. al. 2004).
Adding HR flexible work arrangement policies that provide nurses and physicians with the autonomy to create the best work-life balance based on their current needs, should remove work scheduling inflexibility that leads to turnover.
- Barnett, R. C., Gordon, J. R., Gareis, K. C., & Morgan, C. (2004). Unintended consequences of job redesign: Psychological contract violations and turnover intentions among full-time and reduced-hours MDs and LPNs. Community, Work & Family, 7(2), 227–246. https://doi-org.wwu.idm.oclc.org/10.1080/1366880042000245498
- Davies, A. R., & Frink, B. D. (2014). The Origins of the Ideal Worker: The Separation of Work and Home in the United States From the Market Revolution to 1950. Work and Occupations, 41(1), 18–39. https://doi.org/10.1177/0730888413515893
- Kotey, B. A., & Sharma, B. (2019). Pathways from flexible work arrangements to financial performance. Personnel Review, 48(3), 731–747. https://doi-org.wwu.idm.oclc.org/10.1108/PR-11-2017-0353
- Pearson, C. J. 1. c_pearson412@library. tamu. ed. (2015). Achieving a Work–Life Balance. Reference Librarian, 56(1), 78–82. https://doi-org.wwu.idm.oclc.org/10.1080/02763877.2015.970492
- Spencer, A. (2017). Job Sharing: A Primer. Journal of Hospital Librarianship, 17(1), 80–87. https://doi-org.wwu.idm.oclc.org/10.1080/15323269.2017.1259471
- Xu, S., Van Hoof, H., & Nyheim, P. (2018). The effect of online scheduling on employees’ quality of life. Journal of Foodservice Business Research, 21(2), 172–186. https://doi-org.wwu.idm.oclc.org/10.1080/15378020.2017.1364592