Quality of Work Life and Organizational Performance

Subjects: Organizational Economics & Management View times: 151

This is a pioneering study on the relationship between quality of work life and the employee’s perception of their contribution to organizational performance. It unveils the importance of subjective and behavioral components of quality of work life and their influence on the formation of the collaborator’s individual desire to contribute to strengthening the organization’s productivity. The results obtained indicate that for workers: feeling their supervisors’ support through listening to their concerns and by sensing they take them on board; being integrated in a good work environment; and feeling respected both as professionals and as people; positively influence their feeling of contributing to organizational performance. The results are particularly relevant given the increased weight of services in the labor market, together with intensified automation and digitalization of collaborators’ functions. The findings also contribute to the ongoing debate about the need for more work on the subjective and behavioral components of so-called smart and learning organizations, rather than focusing exclusively on remuneration as the factor stimulating organizational productivity based on the collaborator’s contribution.

This study analyses, in an innovative way, the influence of subjective and behavioral components of QWL on organizational performance, measured through collaborators’ feeling of contribution to the organization’s productivity. The empirical findings show the importance of factors related with workers having their supervisors’ support, integration in a good work environment and feeling respected both as professionals and as people.
One of the research challenges addressed here, in a pioneering way, is the use of a subjective measure of collaborators’ commitment to organizational productivity, attempting to provide new implications for organizational management, taking into account components that were hitherto unexplored empirically, various subjective and behavioral components that require greater knowledge to address, in an alternative way, improved organizational performance and behavioral drivers of productivity, rather than relying exclusively on increasing collaborators’ remuneration.
Adopting a more behavioral line of organizational management, and integrating the emerging literature on the QWL construct originally proposed in [7], this analysis contributes to the literature on QWL and organizational performance, bringing two axes of reasoning founded on new empirical evidence, namely: (1) identifying factors that can influence organizational performance, represented here by an alternative measure referring to the collaborator’s feeling of contributing to the organization’s productivity; and (2) proposing a new agenda for human capital managers, focusing on the importance of subjective and behavioral components of QWL, which can help to strengthen productivity in the organizational context, following a behavioral approach both at the company and individual level.
Regarding implications, the evidence obtained signals that human capital managers committed to reinforcing organizational productivity through changing the behavior of collaborators and the organization itself should seek to fulfill a new strategic action agenda with the following priorities: (1) fostering an organizational culture that values behavioral practices of supervisor respect for the collaborator (i.e., hierarchical subordinates) in the organizational context; (2) promoting positive emotions and feelings in collaborators that they are appreciated in the workplace; (3) ensuring that supervisors protect collaborators from hazardous conditions, to reduce feelings of uncertainty and risk; and (4) giving importance to the duties and tasks performed by collaborators.
Surprisingly, this study does not present additional evidence to the established view pointing towards the importance of having a work-life balance and companies’ support for workers’ skills development in the contribution to workers’ productivity. This may be justified, on the one hand, by the content of the research question included in the original survey used in the current study that allows us to point out a hypothetically negative feeling concerning the leadership responsibilities given to target workers, without valuing in a proper way the required work-life balance. Nevertheless, there is still great room for improvement as regards promoting the subjective conditions tending to strengthen behaviors oriented towards stimulating organizational productivity, especially, addressing gender issues, balanced management of the trade-offs between personal and professional life; and leadership responsibilities, per gender role.
The main limitations of the analysis concern the impossibility of carrying out a study with a time dimension, which could determine hypothetical relationships of causality (or precedence) between subjective and behavioral components and organizational performance. Another limitation is in relation to the response variable representing organizational productivity being based on a subjective measure of the collaborator’s perception of individual contribution to organizational productivity. Nevertheless, considering the difficulty in obtaining data of a subjective nature and the aims of this study, it seems acceptable to consider this alternative measure of the organization’s non-economic performance, which requires future exploration through additional research.
In a related vein, this opens an avenue for tracing further research endeavors, expanding both the number of objective and subjective metrics, in order to gauge the hypothetical differences in the relationships established between QWL’s components and organizational performance, “measured” in objective or subjective terms. This would imply the design of a new questionnaire targeted to assess the feelings of the leaders regarding the performance of workers, and, afterwards, it will be possible to produce a contrasting analysis.
For the future, more thorough study of the relationship between QWL and organizational productivity is suggested, by making a comparative analysis involving different profiles of organizational culture considering other contexts of organizational location, for example, in America, Asia, Europe, Africa and Australasia. In this line of analysis, it would also be interesting to pursue this topic considering different organizational and corporate governance contexts, for example, multinationals, family control, female management, management with ethnic diversity and management with values. Another avenue of future research would be the possibility, in the organizational context, of using new forms of organizational design and management able to change behavior in a subjective, inclusive and participatory way. It is necessary, therefore, to explore how design thinking, organizational gamification and co-creation can mobilize the collaborator to contribute effectively to improved organizational performance.

Link for article published at the IJERPH: https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/16/20/3803