What Is Quality of Working Life?

Malcolm Tatum

"Quality of work life" is a term that is used to identify the perception of employees within the workplace, both in terms of how those employees view their roles within a company structure and how employers perceive and relate to those employees. One of the basics of this particular approach is seeing employees as assets to the company that have the ability to move the business closer to achieving its stated goals. This is in contrast to viewing employees as costs that are necessary but somewhat easily replaced when and as necessary.

A boss yelling at an employee.
A boss yelling at an employee.

In terms of an employee’s perception of the quality of working life, the focus is often on what tangible and intangible benefits are derived from the employment situation. A good quality of life in a work situation would likely involve receipt of wages or salary that the employee feels is reasonable for the tasks assigned, additional benefits like health insurance or paid days off as part of the employment package, and also the possibility of bonuses or commissions from time to time. A good quality of working life would also involve being equipped with all the tools necessary to accomplish assigned tasks.

Some of the intangible aspects of the quality of working life are also essential to the perception of the employee. Feeling valued by the employer will often make the workplace more satisfactory. Cordial interactions with co-workers further enhances the quality of work life, making the hours spent on the job more pleasant. The ability to bring up concerns or questions without fear of some sort of censure or reprisal will often make the work environment more inviting, even if the employee has no particular concerns or questions to raise. Simply knowing that is it possible to do so and be treated with respect makes the job all the more satisfactory.

From an employer’s perspective, the quality of working life sometimes means changing how employees are perceived. Instead of focusing on the costs incurred to attract qualified employees, the employer will take the approach of viewing each employee as an asset, bringing specific talents and abilities to the operation. Rather than seeing employees as parts in a large machine, they are valued for not only their general performance but also their creativity and personality and the contributions those attributes make to the workplace. When employees are seen as important elements of the success of the company, the employer will take steps to recognize their contributions, value their input, and generally help create an environment that increases the quality of working life and prompts employees to stay for the long term.

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