Perceptual factors in quality of work life of Indian employees.
It is evident from history that, work occupies an important place in the life of human beings. How people have thought and felt about the working experience has also been an age-old concern for both workers and managers. The expression quality of working life (QWL) was probably coined originally at the first international conference on QWL at Arden House in 1972 (Davis and Cherns 1975). Mills (1978) probably coined the term quality of working life and suggested that it had moved permanently into the vocabulary of unions and management, even if a lot of people using it were not exactly sure what territory it covered. During the twentieth century, our social science conceptualizations regarding work have been labelled scientific management, human relations, socio-technical systems theory, and now possibly holistic learning organizations. In the present study, we are concerned with how an employee perceives a high-quality working-life experience in India. There are a number of reasons why investigation of the perceptions of quality of working life for employees requires thorough research.
Review of Literature
It is found that there are numerous literatures available on this concept. For example, in Duncan Gallie (2003), there is a comparison of employees' perceptions of the quality of working tasks, the degree of involvement in decision making, career opportunities, and job security to see whether the Scandinavian countries have a distinctive pattern from other European Union countries. It was found that on the aspects of working life that were most central to the reform programmes, the results were consistent with the view that there could be societal effects deriving from the policy orientations of the major economic interest groups.
Another empirical study was done to predict QWL in relation to career-related dimensions (Raduan Che Rose et al. 2006). The sample consists of 475 managers from the free trade zones on Malaysia for both multinational corporations (MNCs) and small and medium industries (SMIs). The results indicate that three exogenous variables are significant: career satisfaction, career achievement, and career balance, with 63 per cent of the variance in QWL.
According to Rama J. Joshi (2007), to find out the issue of representation of legitimate interests of women workers in its entirety and make suggestions to help policy makers to improve the QWL of women workers, specifically in banking, insurance, PSUs, and hospitals, it was found that the level of satisfaction of women employees with QWL in their respective organization was quite high.
The study of Md Mosharraf Hossain and Md Tariqual Islam (1999) investigates the correlation between QWL and job satisfaction, QWL and performance, and job satisfaction and performance. A total number of sixty-three nurses were selected from three government hospitals on a stratified random sampling basis. The findings reveal that there was significant positive correlation between QWL and job satisfaction. A significant positive correlation was also found between QWL and performance, and job satisfaction and performance. QWL had the highest contribution to performance. Perceptions of QWL and job satisfaction were significantly higher among the respondents in small organizations than in larger ones. Morning shift nurses perceived higher QWL and job satisfaction than those in the night shift. Night shift nurses were suffering from more security problems than the nurses of other shifts. Thus, it is suggested to keep the hospitals lighted to certain extent and allow nurses to work in small groups. This would provide the nurses not only a feeling of security but also an opportunity to interact with each other, which in turn would lead to improved and congenial working relationship in the hospitals.
Martin Lees and Sandra Kearns (2005) outline the systematic approach used at Bluewater Health in Sarnia, Ontario, to recognize the importance of job quality in work life and progresses, for a diagnosis to the implementation of improvements, with positive outcomes.
Research by Saipin Narongrit and Supit Thongsri (2001) deals with the quality of work life and organizational commitment. The objectives of this research were to study the level of the asset management organization, Thaitoyo Denso Company Limited's staffs' quality of work life and organizational commitment, to compare the organizational commitment according to personal factors, and also to analyse the factors affecting organizational commitment. The population consisted of all the two hundred employees in Thaitoyo Denso Company Limited. Data were collected by using questionnaires and analysed by using SPSS/FW computer program. The statistics used for analysing the data were percentage, mean, standard deviation test at the 0.05 percentage level of significance, and Pearson product moment correlation coefficients at the 0.01 percentage level of significance. It was found that the levels of the staffs' quality of work life were moderate. Personal characteristics like sex, age, status, education, position, staff salary, and line function caused no difference. All factors of quality of work life had positive correlation with organizational commitment.
Burton J. Cohen, Susan C. Kinnevy, and Melissa E. Dichter (2007), in their study, compare the quality of work life of child protective investigators in two very different organizational settings--a public child welfare agency and a law enforcement agency. Legislation passed in Florida in 1988, transferred responsibility for investigations from the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to the Sheriff's Offices (SO) in four countries. The survey was conducted of investigators in the four experimental countries and in four comparison countries where DCF was still conducting investigations. The finding indicates that while both groups had similar demographic characteristics and perceptions of their role, the investigators who worked for the SO experienced a higher quality of work life than those who worked for the DCF.
The aim of the study of Michael Maccoby (1984) is to identify the job satisfaction of employees and supervisors of Bell System over a five-year period. He found that the employees and supervisors were satisfied with their pay and benefits and were also motivated to work productively, but they were dissatisfied with the technology in use and felt too much supervisory control. They believed they were mismanaged, pushed around, not listened to, and that the spirit of service was being eroded by the drive to increase profit.
The research of Efraty and Sirgy (2004), on quality of work life was conceptualized in terms of need satisfaction stemming from an interaction of workers' needs of survival, social needs, ego needs, and self-actualization needs and those organizational resources relevant for meeting them. It was hypothesized that need satisfaction is positively related to organizational identification, job satisfaction, job involvement, job effort, and job performance and negatively related to personal alienation. A survey study was conducted based on a sample of 219 service deliverers to the elderly in a large Midwestern city. It was found that the results were consistent with the hypotheses. Managerial implications were also discussed.
Table 1 presents a summary of a number of previous studies indicating the various factors deemed to be of significance for employees.
Given the many perspectives illustrated in Table 1, what constitutes a high quality of work life (QWL) for people? That is, what are the important factors comprising a high QWL for future and current Indian workers? Surely, groups of people from varied socio-cultural contexts will view QWL in a variety of ways, which are determined, in part, by local values and conditions. The findings of a literature search for various features defining QWL led to an identification of two general factors, namely, work/work environment and employee welfare and well-being. Within the first factor are included such features as democracy (Cooper 1988), task content/physical features of the job (Kalra and Ghosh 1984; Kahn 1981), quantity and quality of leisure time created by the job (Kirkman 1981), and promotion (Kahn 1981; Macarov 1981). The second factor mainly emphasizes employee welfare and well-being. Hofstede (1980) identified four broad dimensions of culture that he named individualism, power distance, masculinity, and uncertainty avoidance.
Thus, the present research seeks to describe how Indian workers view QWL. In so doing, we hope to be more enlightened as to what Indian employees value and expect to be present at the workplace in order that work may be seen as a quality of working life experience.
Data were collected by means of structured questionnaires from 332 employees of the organization under study. The completed questionnaires were collected by the authors. The response rate for employees was 66.4 per cent. This high response rate is probably due to the commitment of senior management to the study and the conscientious follow-up of the organizational representative for the project. The sample comprised predominantly Indians (94.3 per cent) and included 53.5 per cent females. About half of the employees (51%) worked for organizations operating in the financial sector while about one quarter of the respondents worked for companies in the transport business. Seventy-six per cent of the respondents had at least a diploma and/or a first degree from a university. The majority of respondents were in middle management (34.6 per cent) and junior management (36.1 per cent) with 80 per cent of the sample holding 'A' level certificates and/or higher educational attainment.
A thirty-five item questionnaire, derived and adapted from an earlier QWL study (Miller 1978), was used to measure QWL. Respondents were asked to rate the extent to which they perceived the importance of each QWL item in their work situation. The scale employed a five-point Likert format ranging from (1) 'very low importance' to (5) 'very high importance'. Sample items include 'A work situation in which there are opportunities for me to use my abilities'; 'A job which provides me with adequate challenge'; and 'A work situation in which my co-workers are committed to the organization and its future'. A fuller sample of items may be seen in Table 2. The scale's Cronbach alpha coefficient is .94.
The underlying dimensions of the QWL construct was examined using principal components factor analysis with varimax rotation. Table 2 shows the results of the factor analysis. Four main factors were derived and were respectively labelled favourable work environment, personal growth and autonomy, rewarding nature of the job, and stimulating opportunities and co-workers. Cronbach's (1951) alpha for the four factors of the QWL questionnaire are .93, .92, .88 and .79 respectively. The total variance explained by the four factors is 62.5 per cent. The QWL items which are loaded on the four factors in the present study are consistent with those reported by Levine (1983).
The results from the present study suggest four underlying dimensions of QWL: supportive management and favourable work environment, personal growth and autonomy, the nature of the job, and stimulating opportunities and co-workers. These dimensions encompass the concepts identified by Kirkman (1981), Helzel et al. (1973), Portigal (1974), Levine (1983), as well as many of the features of work listed by Walton (1974) and Davis (1983). The present four-factor model provides useful benchmark measures of QWL in India and represents a more parsimonious approach in contrast with the sixteen QWL dimensions reported in the original General Motors QWL study (Miller 1978).
Employees viewed a high QWL as one in which there were no negative impacts on personal life and such a high QWL would also exhibit an absence of inappropriate work demands. One might view a low QWL as one in which there are predominantly negative features in the working environment.
Factor 1 also includes an expectation for a high level of predictability in the work environment and this is in contradiction to the finding of Hofstede (1980) for low uncertainty avoidance countries. Since India scored lowest on uncertainty avoidance in the Hofstede (1980) study, one would have predicted less emphasis on predictability than was found in this sample.
Factor 2 may be described as personal growth and autonomy in that employees prefer a positive impact on personal life and an opportunity to develop close personal ties while they attempt to achieve their career goals. Achieving some level of personal growth may be quite related to the quality of communication in the organization. King (1992) proposed that organizations could improve the quality of working life through improving the nature and quality of communication of the mission and vision through the use of team briefings as a first step in the process of employee participation. This attitude seems to be expressed in the importance attached to such issues in the present sample.
Factor 3 focuses more on the rewarding nature of the job itself. Employees prefer meaningful jobs that provide adequate challenge without compromising their values. Such high QWL jobs must have good benefits, pay well, provide assistance for planning one's career, and exist in a work context that is perceived to be fair.
Factor 4 emphasizes the importance of the existence of stimulating opportunities and co-workers. The findings show that the employees thought it was very important to have an opportunity to use their abilities and apply their knowledge to learn new things and to work with co-workers who were not disinterested in their job but were rather both interested and committed to the organization.
In sum, four factors of QWL were found with this sample of employees. The first factor relates to a favorable working environment. A high QWL job is one in which there is an efficient work situation, a management that is concerned about helping subordinates solve problems and actively assists on work problems, no negative impact on personal life, and an absence of inappropriate work demands.
Factor 1 emphasizes that good performance is recognized in addition to rewards being based upon performance while employees are respected and treated like mature people. This is congruent with the notion of a meritocracy. Thus, a high-QWL work situation is one in which there is a great deal of management support. The second QWL factor was labelled personal growth and autonomy. For there to be a high QWL, employees in this sample also wanted competent supervision and a management that actively assisted them on solving work problems and was also concerned about their personal problems. A high-quality work life was perceived to be one in which there was an opportunity to develop close personal ties and achieve career goals with an absence of excessive job stress. In a high-QWL there should be a positive impact on personal life, an opportunity to be involved in decision as well as an acceptable level of physical comfort. Jobs seen to exist within high-QWL work situations are those in which there is minimal negative impact on one's personal life, and hopefully one which has a positive impact on one's personal life. These preferred qualities of work life are broadly similar to those expressed by workers in the industrialized West (Miller 1978; Kirkman 1981; Metz 1982; Mirvis and Lawler 1984; Cooper 1988). The third QWL factor identified has been labelled rewarding nature of the job. Work situations providing adequate levels of pay and other benefits are perceived as being high-QWL work environments. As socio-economic conditions change, it is expected that the importance of this factor will also change. The fourth and last factor identified was the perception of stimulating opportunities and co-workers. It is clear from the findings that the aspiring Indian job entrant seeks a relatively high level of security, career opportunities, personal development, and reward incentives in his/her working environment. We would expect that these dimensions comprising QWL that were found in the present sample are consistent with the rapid economic growth and increasingly higher levels of educational standards in India.
Future research needs to redress this imbalance especially since there may well be cultural differences in value dimensions as suggested by Hofstede (1980). Additionally, other industries should be studied to examine the extent to which the present results can be generalized across industries. Given the major changes of the socio-technical systems in the work context and greater society, further work needs to be carried out to examine the extent to which perceptions of QWL may have changed as well. Thus, this paper has made an earnest attempt to find out the Perceptual Factors in Quality of Work Life in India.
Cohen, Burton J., Susan C. Kinnevy, and Melissa E. Dichter, (2007), 'The quality of work life of child protective investigators: A comparison of two work environments', Child and Youth Services Review, 29, pp. 474-89
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P. Kameswara Rao * P. Venugopal **
* Professor, Department of Business Administration, Kalasalingam University, Anand Nagar, Krishnankoil (India). Email: email@example.com
** Sr. Lecturer, Sambhram Institute of Technology, Bangalore (India). Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Table 1: QWL factors from previous research Factors Identified Study Work Environment Employee Welfare Cooper (1988) democracy security equity individuation Hofstede (1980) individualism, Power cultural differences distance, masculinity, in value dimensions and uncertainty avoidance Davis (1983) supportive management & equitable pay favourable work environ- ment, personal growth and autonomy, the nature of the job and stimu- lating opportunities, & co-workers Kahn (1981) task content; supervision, autonomy and control; resources; promotion; relations with work conditions; co-workers; wages organizational context Kalra and safe and healthy working employee welfare; Ghosh (1984) conditions; physical job security environment; absence of undue work stress Kirkman (1981) job mobility pay quantity and quality of leisure time created by job Lippitt and organizational environment healthy social Rumley (1977) physical environment relations features of job itself Macarov (1981) chance to advance seniority Mirvis and work environment employee welfare Lawler (1984) Walton (1974) safe and healthy work adequate and conditions opportunity compensation to use abilities future social integration growth opportunity constitutionalism work relevance to society Table 2: Loadings of QWL Items on the four sub-scales Scale Item No F1 F2 F3 F4 Percentage 37.2 10.4 8.2 6.7 of explained variance Cumulative 37.2 47.6 55.8 62.5 percentage of explained variance Nature of 4 .625 Job and 14 .537 Career 5 .528 Progress 32 .503 12 .503 7 .476 29 .459 10 .448 22 .408 20 .403 15 .386 13 .360 35 .356 6 .345 11 .345 Management 24 .342 Support 26 .788 25 .656 28 .525 27 .416 34 .370 16 .369 23 .358 Rewards 17 .767 18 .654 31 .475 9 .452 8 .439 Impact of 20 .531 Work on 22 .479 Personal 19 .441 Life 21 .404
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|Author:||Rao, P. Kameswara; Venugopal, P.|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2009|
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