Quality of Work Life (QWL)

What Is Quality of Work Life?

Quality of Work Life is a dynamic multidimensional construct focusing on worker wellbeing. It is concerned with worker’s productivity, yet also addresses their emotional need to feel satisfied with their experience of work.

Quality of Work Life is that part of overall quality of life Opens in new window that is influenced by work. It is more than just job satisfaction Opens in new window or work happiness, but the widest context in which an employee would evaluate their work environment” (Varghese and Jayan 2013).

QWL is a sub-category of QoL Opens in new window research that has been studied independently since the late 1970s (Davis and Cherns 1975; Hackman and Suttle 1977; Lawler 1982).

For QoL researchers, “Efforts to improve the quality of work life of employees may also affect their sense of quality of life Opens in new window” (Elizur & Shyle 1990). As with QoL, people’s QWL is affected by their work-related goals, desires, expectations and needs, and how well these are fulfilled.

The concept of QWL evolved from a concern for the negative impacts of work on employees’ health and well-being and the urge to improve the quality of the work domain by making changes in the design and conditions of work.

Quality of Work Life is a dynamic multidimensional construct focusing on worker wellbeing. It is concerned with worker’s productivity, yet also addresses their emotional need to feel satisfied with their experience of work. However, QWL is not the same as job satisfaction (Lawler 1982). QWL is a philosophy or a set of principles based on a view of employees as the most important and meaningful resource in the organization, who should be treated with dignity and respect (Straw & Heckscher 1984).

QWL combines factors related to the job Opens in new window itself—such as job satisfaction, salary, and relationships with colleagues—with intangibles, such as overall life satisfaction and feelings of wellbeing (Danna & Griffin 1999). The eight factors that affect worker’s QWL are fair compensation, health and safety, self-development, growth and security, social integration, constitutionalism, life space and social relevance (Walton 1991).

A model of needs in the work domain includes job requirements, work environment, supervisory behavior, ancillary programs, and organizational commitment. Work domain needs can be fulfilled through resources, activities, and outcomes resulting from participation in the workplace (Sirgy et al. 2001). Later, the physical workspace was added to QWL as a factor affecting job satisfaction and productivity (Cummings & Worley 2005).

Space-related needs in the work environment have been identified by concepts such as Preiser’s (1983) habitability framework and Vischer’s (1989, 1996, 2005) functional comfort pyramid according to which different workspace qualities can be ranked.

Functional comfort is based on the habitability framework, which connects buildings and settings with users, and occupants’ needs with the work environment. Habitability is a relative concept that may differ from one culture to another: “Habitability defines the degree of fit between individuals or groups and their environment, both natural and man-made, in terms of an ecologically sound and humane, built environment” (p. 87, Preiser op.cit.).

Habitability requires that the physical environment meet three categories of users’ needs: health and safety, functional and task performance, and psychological comfort. Improving habitability through a better fit between the occupant and workspace means a better quality work environment and improved QWL.

As QWL is considered a key factor in the sustainability and viability of organization, finding ways of improving employees’ QWL is an investment in human capital and in the viability of the organization (Sheel et al. 2012).

Aspects of the work environment that have been found to affect QWL include the job or task, physical conditions, such as the building design, materials and technology, as well as economic and social aspects, such as administrative policies and the work-life relationship (Cunningham & Eberle 1990; Elizur & Shyne 1990).

A poor QWL often mans increased stress at work. Workers in North America spend at least 50% of their indoor time in the workplace, and reducing work stress is a concern shared by managers, designers, environment-behavior researchers and environmental psychologists (Bagnara et al. 2001).