The workplace environment is experiencing drastic social and demographic changes due to globalization, immigration, and vibrant digitalization. As a result, human resource managers (HRMs) face new challenges dealing with a diverse workforce with unique characteristics. For example, many women of childbearing age are in the employment sector and may have to constantly check on their children as they continue with work. Moreover, people working in the same organization have different cultures depending on their country of origin, ethnic community, age, and individual characteristics. An emerging issue from the changes is achieving a work-life balance. Thus, this paper discusses the implication of high heterogeneity among the United Kingdom workforce on balancing social and occupational responsibility. Although the new social demographic changes have led to diverse workforce and increased representation of women in formal employment it has other negative repercussions on work-life balance.
One of the consequences is that there is an improvement in gender representation across different industries. The problem is that the fact that many women are no longer staying at home has created a gap in family demands. Work-life balance becomes hard to achieve if men refuse to take on domestic responsibilities. This has steered debate on whether increased women’s representation in formal employment has a positive or negative effect on gender equality (Lewis and Campbell, 2007). It appears that mothers have to do a double job because even when they earn, they still remain responsible for all the house chores. Thus, there is a need for men to understand that the fact that women are increasingly helping with the economic enhancement means that they should also take more responsibilities taking care of children and the home.
In addition, many women in the workforce have to reduce their working hours to take care of their children. The census results from the UK government on parental employment indicate that the rate of mothers in employment is now higher than that of women without children. Specifically, about 28.5% of mothers have children below 14 years compared with 4.8% of the fathers (Families and the labour market, UK – Office for National Statistics, 2019, para.12). Socially, women play a greater responsibility for nursing children, which implies that they have to spend more time at work compared with their male counterparts. The implication is that they lag behind in their career development and pose a challenge to HRMs to promote them because of the greater demand for their work-life balance (Lewis and Campbell, 2007). Therefore, HRMs should consider integrating policies for extended paid maternal leaves and childcare so that they can invest more time at work and enhance their performance to develop their career.
The socio-demographic changes have led to the development of policies such as leaves, childcare services, and flexible working hours that can help provide a standard way of helping people achieve high levels of work-life balance. The UK labor market is increasingly working on improving family policies after noting that it increases social problems (Lewis and Campbell, 2007). There have been complaints that the economic objectives have been given precedence over social life. The neglect of family negatively impacts the country as children are left to spend long hours either alone or with hired caregivers who are not a perfect substitute for the parental care that young people need. Moreover, without a social life, the performance of employees significantly reduces as they become more prone to stress.
Moreover, the HRM is experiencing more difficulties in ensuring that work is perfectly done in the face of increasing demand to accommodate flexibility in time and work environment. According to Wilkinson et al. (2022), technological change has accelerated and fundamentally affects how work is defined and done. For instance, many people now prefer working remotely while holding virtual meetings to keep their supervisors up-to-date with their tasks. The primary challenge of such transformation is that the home environment is distinct from work. Therefore, when people do office jobs, they are likely to get more distractions from children, visitors, or other things happening within the neighborhood. The company can lose substantial working hours if employees work from home but have no discipline to maintain their tasks. Virtual relationship between such colleagues may also present some challenges that translate into the performance of the company.
The high cost of living is one of the social-demographic changes that significantly impact the work-life balance. The majority of respondents, 50%-60%, state that they have to work extra hours to properly plan and relieve their colleagues from extra work (Working Families, 2020). Moreover, many people continue to run office errands even when they are still at home. The implication is that there is no proper family time because adults still work even when they are at home.
The conflict between work and life has negative implications for job efficacy and overall performance. Research findings indicate an increase in stress and burnout characterized by cognitive difficulties, increased absenteeism, and less commitment to work (Beauregard and Henry, 2009). The HRMs should allow their employees to have some freedom in choosing a convenient schedule. Thus, workers must be helped to manage their demands at home and job well while still maintaining a healthy social life.
In summary, the changing work demands are transforming the work environment by increasing the job demands. To remain competitive, companies have to make more investments in diverse employees and increase the demands on their performance. The other significant change is that women are increasingly getting formal employment, creating a crisis in home demands. Failure to achieve the family and work balance has many negative implications on the individual, work, and society. Therefore, HRMs should integrate policies and practices that help their employees to plan their time and resources for holistic wellness.
Beauregard, T.A. and Henry, L.C., (2009), ‘Making the link between work-life balance practices and organizational performance’, Human resource management review, 19(1), pp.9-22.
Lewis, J. and Campbell, M., (2007), ‘UK Work/Family Balance Policies and Gender Equalit’, 1997-2005, Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, 14(1), pp.4-30.
Wilkinson, A., Dundon, T. and Redman, T., (2022), Contemporary human resource management, 6th edition, London: SAGE Publications.
Working Families. (2020.), Working families | 2020 modern families index – full report, Web.