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Work-life Balance: The effect on Absenteeism among Employees in a Malaysian Utility Company

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Employees spend at least one-third of their day at their work place. Since most of the time is spent at the work place, excess in working hours can cause the employees to feel burned out at the end of the week. These high emotional exhaustion and less personal time will cause the employees to adjust their own time in order to achieve preference hours of work. The utility company involves in this study practices 5.5 working days. Feeling overemployed, this will lead the employees to adjust their behaviour into choosing to be absent from work. Thus, this study focus on to examine: (i) Whether working 5.5 days in a week currently implemented by the company has stimulated the employees to be absent from work as one of their effort to achieve a balance in their work-life style, (ii) the relationship of work-life balance (WLB) and absenteeism in a utility company in Malaysia. A survey was conducted among the employees to explore their response towards absenteeism and WLB. The findings of this study highlighted the understanding of the WLB and absenteeism concept from the employees’ perspective. Based on the findings of this research, working excessive hours stimulated the employees to be absent on the last working day of the week. The findings of this study also offer new perspectives which the company may need to consider in order to have employees who are more efficient.
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International Journal of Economics and Financial Issues | Vol 6 • Special Issue (S6) • 2016
154
International Journal of Economics and Financial
Issues
ISSN: 2146-4138
available at http: www.econjournals.com
International Journal of Economics and Financial Issues, 2016, 6(S6) 154-157.
Special Issue for "IPN Conferences, May 2016"
Work-life Balance: The effect on Absenteeism among Employees
in a Malaysian Utility Company
Idaya Husna Mohd1*, Maimunah Mohd Shah2, Nur Aizureen Anwar3, Nadia Mahzumi4
1Faculty of Business and Management, Universiti Teknologi MARA, 42300. Puncak Alam, Selangor, Malaysia, 2Faculty of Business
and Management, Universiti Teknologi MARA, 42300. Puncak Alam, Selangor, Malaysia, 3Faculty of Business and Management,
Universiti Teknologi MARA, 42300. Puncak Alam, Selangor, Malaysia, 4Faculty of Business and Management, Universiti Teknologi
MARA, 42300. Puncak Alam, Selangor, Malaysia. *Email: idayahusna@salam.uitm.edu.my
ABSTRACT
Employees spend at least one-third of their day at their work place. Since most of the time is spent at the work place, excess in working hours can
cause the employees to feel burned out at the end of the week. These high emotional exhaustion and less personal time will cause the employees to
adjust their own time in order to achieve preference hours of work. The utility company involves in this study practices 5.5 working days. Feeling
overemployed, this will lead the employees to adjust their behaviour into choosing to be absent from work. Thus, this study focus on to examine:
(i) Whether working 5.5 days in a week currently implemented by the company has stimulated the employees to be absent from work as one of their
effort to achieve a balance in their work-life style, (ii) the relationship of work-life balance (WLB) and absenteeism in a utility company in Malaysia.
A survey was conducted among the employees to explore their response towards absenteeism and WLB. The ndings of this study highlighted the
understanding of the WLB and absenteeism concept from the employees’ perspective. Based on the ndings of this research, working excessive hours
stimulated the employees to be absent on the last working day of the week. The ndings of this study also offer new perspectives which the company
may need to consider in order to have employees who are more efcient.
Keywords: Work-life Balance, Absenteeism, Malaysia, Uitility Industry, Burned Out
JEL Classications: M10, M50, M54
1. INTRODUCTION
Absenteeism is an important study of organizations aspect
because they are believed to have a direct negative impact on
the organization’s effectiveness in relations to the employees’
productivity. Cole and Kleiner (1992) stated that the frequent
1-day absence reect “mental health” where workers preferred
to do something else rather than spending time at the work place.
Although various researches on absenteeism have been done
extensively, much of the research done are general.
The Malaysian Government has implemented the 5-days Work
Week starting on 1st July, 2005. Since then, Saturday and Sunday
are the most common off-days for working people. As for certain
workers in this utility company, they have to work another ½ day
on Saturday to complete the standard working hours implemented
by the company. Low on free time, workers may abandon good
habits that counteract the negative effects of high-stress lifestyles,
choosing to skip the workout or choose for frequent absenteeism
such as taking 1-day leave or MC. Working during weekends
certainly cut into focused time for personal and with family and
friends. In a study by Bryson and Forth (2007), they found out
that between Mondays to Fridays, the productivity rates vary
from 73% to 80%. However, the percentage plunges to 31% on
Saturday and 22% on Sunday. The productivity may decline over
the week as a result of increasing tiredness. The two off-days in the
weekend, then provides the opportunity to rest before beginning
the working week again on the following Monday. As absence can
be extensive costs to the employer, this research will expose new
insight into how management can help to reduce the absenteeism in
the organization and thus help to ensure the employees can achieve
work-life balance (WLB) in order to create an efcient and healthy
Mohd, et al.: Work-life Balance: The effect on Absenteeism among Employees in a Malaysian Utility Company
International Journal of Economics and Financial Issues | Vol 6 • Special Issue (S6) • 2016 155
mind worker. The objectives of this study are (i) To examine
whether the 5.5 working days in a week currently implemented
by the company has stimulated the employees to be absent from
work as one of their effort to achieve a balance in their work-life
style, (ii) to examine the relationship of WLB and absenteeism in
one of the utility company in Malaysia.
2. LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1. Absenteeism
Over the years scholars had dened absence as the non-attendance
of a worker for scheduled work (Brook and Price, 1989). Many
studies had been conducted to determine the factors that contribute
towards absenteeism and how to manage it efciently. This is
because the impact of the excessive absenteeism is direct to
the organizational performance and income and may lead to
inefciency (Nicholson and Martocchio, 1995). Cole and Kleiner
(1992) stated that the absence of a worker not just result in loss of
productivity but also losses in an organization in which the cost of
the benet to employees still run even if the employee is absent
from work. An interesting research by Lippert (1986) stated that
one type of absenteeism that always worries an organization is a
frequent 1-day absence that always happens on Monday or Friday
in which these days are focused on before or after the weekend.
In labor economics term, absenteeism occur when workers feel
being overemployed where standard working-hours implemented
by the organization is more than the workers want.
Not only absenteeism is still a poorly understood topic in
many ways even though the extensive awareness of the theory
and organizations desires to reduce it, it also lack of current
research. Johns and Nicholson (1982) observed absenteeism
as a workplace problem to be solved. For the last 20 years,
researchers have attempted to expose the complexity and variety
of absence behaviour. Martocchio and Harrison (1993), in their
study, believe that absenteeism should be observed as more of an
outcome than behaviour. There are almost never-ending lists of
possible causes of absenteeism. Transportation trouble, illness,
work-life imbalance, job frustrations, the chance to engage in
leisure activities, eldercare duties, childcare duties, other domestic
responsibilities, and meetings during work hours are just a few
of the reasons why someone might absence to the work place.
Additionally, scholars have been considered that there has been
an increasing acknowledgment that absenteeism is not only an
individual behaviour, but a social phenomenon that changes the
meaning depending on the content and context of its occurrence
(Harrison et al., 2000; Nicholson, 1993).
2.2. WLB
According to Munn (2009), WLB is dened as a person who
prioritizes their work, family, individual, and community
responsibilities. The means and way to prioritize individual work,
family, personal and community responsibilities are inuenced
by the availability and knowledge of work-life initiatives as well
as the organizational culture. Therefore, WLB can be broadly
dened as the degree to which individuals attain equal levels of
engagement and satisfaction in work performance and life (Clark,
2000; Guest, 2002; Greenhaus et al., 2003; Deery, 2008). There are
many factors that affect the performance of employees, and one of
which is the balance of their personal life. Employees who obtain a
balanced life and career usually have better performance compared
to those who don’t. To balance a career with personal or family
life can be challenging and it has a great impact on a persons’
work and life satisfaction (Hill et al., 2001). Dundas (2008) and
Greenhaus (2003) contended that WLB is about managing and
juggling efciently between job and all aspects of personal matters.
Thus, employees who experience a balance in work-life are those
who show a similar investment of time and commitment to work
and non-work domains (Virick, 2007; Omar, 2013).
In more recent study, according to Haar et al. (2014), WLB as
an individual’s perception of how well his or her life roles are
balanced, which is consistent with studies from various scholars
(e.g. Frone, 2003; Greenhaus and Allen, 2011; Haar, 2013; Kossek
et al., 2014). As proposed by Drago et al. (2009) increases in work
hours and work demands would affect WLB of a worker. Although
there is no widely-accepted denition of WLB, the term has often
been used to refer to individuals’ assessments of their abilities to
effectively manage and full the core responsibilities associated
with personal, family, and work roles. Since the optimal system
of “balance” is both a personal and subjective assessment, the
measurement of satisfaction with WLB recognizes that “more
time at work and less time at home” might create balance for
one person. Whereas “more time at home and less time at work”
might create balance for another person. Golden (2006) added
that if an employee works for long hours, it might trigger work-
family conict and therefore leading to more absence from work.
In order to reach WLB, working hours play the most important
aspect (Tucker and Rutherford, 2005). What would be the case
in this company? In this study, working 5.5 days a week makes
the employee spend more time at work and less time at home.
Therefore, this study explores the extent of working on Saturday
affect absenteeism due to imbalance of work-life among employees
in one of the utility company in Malaysia.
Based on Figure 1, the hypotheses are as follows:
H1: There is a relationship between WLB and absenteeism.
3. METHODOLOGY
For this study, researchers chose quantitative method using
standardized questionnaires for conducting a causal study in
order to identify the relationship between WLB and absenteeism.
Descriptive study was undertaken to describe the employee’s
intention to be absent on the last working day of the week. It is
also to describe the characteristics of respondents (age, gender,
education, year of employment, etc.). The unit of analysis for
this study is the individual employee in the utility company. The
Figure 1: Theoretical framework
Mohd, et al.: Work-life Balance: The effect on Absenteeism among Employees in a Malaysian Utility Company
International Journal of Economics and Financial Issues | Vol 6 • Special Issue (S6) • 2016
156
population will be the workers who work 5.5 days in a week. For
the purpose of this study, researchers chose a non-probability
sampling designs of convenience sampling. The total of sample
size is 94. There are eight (8) departments in this company with
employees comprising from the Plant Manager to the general
workers. The population size is 94. According to Roscoe (1975),
if the population is 94, the sample size would be 76. However,
researchers decided to distribute as much as possible to increase
the response rate.
4. FINDINGS AND DISCUSSIONS
Questionnaires were distributed to the selected population of
employees that work 5.5 days in a week. Based on the position
in the organization chart, the sample size is supposed to be 94.
However, a few positions remain vacant. The nal sample size
was 88. The questionnaire distributed was 88 and the rate of
response is 96.6%.
Table 1 demonstrated the ve (5) statements with the highest
mean. Having 3.89 as the mean (D3), this shows that most of the
employees in the organization always took leave in a week. The
second highest mean is 3.87 (D7) in which the employee agreed
that burnout can cause absenteeism. The statement with the third
highest mean (D10) showed that employees feel burnout at the last
working day of the week and decided to not to come to work. The
mean calculated is 3.80 and this value shows that the employees
agree that they do feel burnout on Saturday, thus choose not to
come to work. Approaching to the weekends, the employees do
feel burnout. While most companies do not work on Saturday, the
employees sometimes choose to do personal things rather than to
be at the work place.
Figure 2 which demonstrated company’s analysis of “1 day
absence” from January to November 2015 further supports the
descriptive ndings in Table 1. Based on Figure 2, absenteeism
is tremendously high especially on Saturday. A study by Lippert
(1986) stated that 1-day absence always happens on Monday
or Friday in which these days is focused on before or after the
weekend. In this research, Saturday is considered before the
weekend and therefore has the highest absenteeism in the company.
Table 2 demonstrate the descriptive statistics of this study. The
mean for WLB is 2.93 out of 5, while absenteeism is 3.32. Pearson
correlation was used to analyse the strength of association between
variables in this research study. WLB indicated that r = 0.377 while
P = 0.000. The result shows that there was a moderate positive
and yet signicant correlation between WLB and absenteeism.
Therefore, the ndings conrmed that increasing WLB will
increase the absenteeism in the organization. This is because
in order to have personal time, the employee would take leave
especially on Saturday to have their own personal time. Referring
to the all of the analysis above, it can be concluded that the extent
of working on Saturday do affect absenteeism among employees
in this company. Higher mean is shown where the employees are
unable to sustain the level of the energy throughout the week.
The mean for D9 (2.34) reveals that respondents are not willing
to work on Saturday. At the end of the analysis, the researcher
has found out that due to many consecutive days worked, nearly
three-quarters of the respondents do feel burnout on Saturday and
therefore has choose not to come to work.
5. RECOMMENDATIONS AND
CONCLUSION
This study illuminated the responses of the employees in a utility
company on absenteeism and WLB matters. While this company
provides 5.5 working days in a week, the absenteeism on Saturday
is high. The ndings of this study offer new perspectives which
the organization may need to consider in order to have employees
who are more efcient. The utility company should consider
Table 1: Extraction for analysis of the rst research
objective
No Question N Minimum Maximum Mean±SD
D3 I usually take
leave in a week.
85 1.00 5.00 3.8941±1.03537
D7 In my opinion,
burn out causes
absenteeism.
85 2.00 5.00 3.8706±0.86998
D8 I am able to
sustain the
level of energy
throughout the
week.
85 1.00 5.00 2.9294±1.11043
D9 I am willing
to work on
Saturday.
85 1.00 5.00 2.3412±1.18073
D10 I feel burnout
on Saturday;
therefore I
choose not to
come to work.
85 1.00 5.00 3.8000±1.28958
Table 2: Descriptive statistics, cronbach alpha, and
pearson correlation of all study variables
Variables Work-life balance Absenteeism
Work-life balance
Absenteeism 0.377**
Mean 2.93 3.32
** Correlation is signicant at the 0.01 level (two-tailed);
0
100
200
300
400
116
66 10256 64 34
155
81 10289 101
353
One -day Absence Analysis
MC AL
Figure 2: One-day absence analysis from the HRIS data
Mohd, et al.: Work-life Balance: The effect on Absenteeism among Employees in a Malaysian Utility Company
International Journal of Economics and Financial Issues | Vol 6 • Special Issue (S6) • 2016 157
changing the working hours from 5.5 days to 5 days a week with
2 days off (Saturday and Sunday) each week. Not only that the
employees could have a good rest and care for their families, this
could eliminate the high absenteeism rate on Saturday as shown
in the 1-day absence analysis. The benets of working 5 days a
week for employees include improve job satisfaction and morale,
improve WLB, and increase in productivity. Employees with
fewer family commitments can utilize their days off for further
studies or to develop personal interests. As for the employers, the
benets include enhancing company’s efciency, reducing absence
rate, enhancing company’s competitiveness and promote the
organization’s corporate image. As a result, not only the employees
can build up healthy and harmonies families, the management can
also establish a positive image, thus creating a win-win situation
for both parties.
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