Work-Life Balance in the United Kingdom

Research Methodology

Introduction

This Research Methodology would be considering the most suitable and appropriate method to be adopted for studying Work Life balance in the context of the workforce in the United Kingdom.

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For this purpose, it is intended to consider how the employees in a large consumer business, like Tesco, view the work life balance and other related areas of interest. It is seen that Tesco operates on a global level, and also has stores outside the UK. “Understanding the influence of culture on interpersonal interactions in organizational settings is now a fundamental requirement of effective international management.” And this is applicable to Tesco’s business also. (Thomas 2008, para.1).

The main aspects in a qualitative research method of this genre need to consider certain critical aspects that underpin the research topic, in this case aspects of reliability, validity and triangulation, and also “critical drivers of performance, accountability and commitment.” (Driving performance through personal accountability & commitment: Five steps to work life balance n.d, para.3).

In real terms, triangulation means that multiple or several kinds of research practices are used, not necessarily restricted to one or two. For instance, there could be “questionnaire with two different scales” through which, for instance, work life balance could be assessed. (Resolved question: Other answers: Dictionary: Triangulation 2009, Para.4).

The use of just one kind of research practice would essentially lower the scope of this study and not bring out its finer points that may evade one kind of study.

This could be worked out in a more detailed manner through other. For instance, the information that cannot be gleaned through questionnaires could be done through face-to-face interviews with respondents. Customer assistants need to strike a well coordinated balance between work life balance. This could be in terms of more organised and systematic job profiling, ensuring adequate rest and leisure time to staff, also working in shifts or through outsourcing for major and pressing order execution.

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It is also necessary that a cross-sectional method followed in this research needs to consider its main aims and objectives- in terms of how the sample respondents perceive work life balance, its constituents and how it could aid in gleaning useful data and information about the subject topic under study. In most cases, it is seen that it is imperative for employees to have a “healthy balance between work and their private lives so that they and the company benefit in the long run.” (Work Life Balance 2009, para. 3).

Research Process

In any kind of qualitative research that is being done, the process of research assumes centre stage and this study is no exception.

Qualitative analysis have many advantages, and uses ”culturally specific information about the values, opinions, behaviors, and social contexts of particular populations.” (Qualitative research methods: A data collector’s field guide: Module 1: Qualitative research methods overview: What is qualitative research 2009, para. 3).

It is now proposed to delineate the research process and research instruments that would be used during the course of this study and how its perceived objectives could be gained.

This study would be conducted through cross-sectional qualitative survey of sample population of the employees working in Tesco stores in the United Kingdoms. “Tesco PLC (LSE: TSCO) is a United Kingdom-based international supermarket chain. It is the largest British retailer, both by global sales and by domestic market share.” (Tesco: What is fair trade? Tesco plans first U.S. store for 2007 2006, para. 2).

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It will be to just one particular store, spread over 20 stores across the country, London, The methodology, using incorporating “special time-saving features“ would be chiefly employed in terms of answering questionnaires address to the employees and members of the work force. (Survey software packages – The survey system: Request a free quote on the survey system software 2009, para.3). “They can vary enormously in terms of their purpose, their size and their appearance.” (Research methodology: Research strategies, p.3).

A sample of the Questionnaires that would be used is available in Appendix 1 of this study. The process would be through inductive studies, meaning that the theories would flow from the data, and not deductive studies.

“Here the researcher’s thinking goes from the specific to the general. If he observes a pattern in society, he may form a hypothesis on it, conduct surveys or experiments to verify his hypothesis and thus reach a conclusion.” (What is the difference between inductive and deductive research? 2009, para. 1).

This research methodology needs to consider the fact that the survey needs to be restricted in terms of time, that the time allocation is that it has to be completed within 20-25 days of its initiation. Further, the methodology also needs to consider the aspects of the fact that the study needs to consider interpretivism philosophy as the basis for a research of this kind, and “The study of phenomena in their natural environment is key to the interpretivist philosophy.” (Chapter Three: Research Methodology: Interpretivism n.d, P.3-2).

In the case of a survey of this kind, it is believed that perhaps the interpretivist approach would be the best for business studies since it would be dealing with different kind of people with different outlooks to life and social constructs. Besides the intricacies and complexities of functioning in business are well drawn forth in interpretivist studies, which also adds the empathetic traits needs to identify and understand human nature, especially in the context of business.

Research goals and objectives

It is seen that the goals of research forms a major aspect, especially in a qualitative survey of this kind, which is necessary to “achieve the best overall performance.” (Research Goals 1994, para. 3).

It is necessary that a study of this kind lays emphasis on small, yet important matters with regard to customer servicing, like helping ignorant customers, or children in selecting their items and also taking care to make shopping a pleasurable experience for both the customer assistants as well as the clients. Thus, the selling team needs to put their best foot forward while addressing customer needs. The main reason for the inductive, cross-sectional respondent based survey is because this topic mainly deals with how employees in Tesco Supermarket across United Kingdom view work life balance and their attitudes towards work and rest.

While some employees may not be very ambitious and prefer to work for limited hours, others may prefer to work part time or from their homes. Still others may be hard driving, promotion oriented and very committed and sincere in their work outlook. “The arrangements most commonly available were part-time working, reduced hours for a limited period, and flexitime. The arrangements most commonly taken up by employees were flexitime, working from home, and part-time work.” (Hooker, et al 2006, para. 2). Thus, considering a situation wherein various employees may respond differently to work ethos, it is but critical that necessary judgements on these aspects could only be gained through qualitative studies

Research Strategies

The strategies that would need to be employed would be to set out data that could support definitive conclusions on work life balance and how it impacts the lives of Tesco’s employee force. In this limited sense, “Acquiring knowledge and systematizing the universe have been considered as, in part, techniques for the achievement of basic safety in the world, or, for the intelligent man, expressions of self-actualization.” (Maslow 2000, The basic needs, para. 41).

This would be gained through answers to a series of questions that form part of the questionnaire to be answered by the respondents. The questionnaires entail structured open-ended questions that need to be answered by each of the respondents in their own manner and according to what they feel about their work culture, interpersonal relations and how it aids, or hampers the smooth work flow and culture in Tesco. Further, it is also believed that since each of the employees would respond differently to the questions, a lot of data and information could be gathered about how Tesco employees value work and work cultures in natural settings. It would have been quite possible to also use interview instruments to underpin this methodology, but this is not being done since the respondents could not provide time and efforts to address face-to-face interviews. Besides, this also carries risks of “interview distortion and subversion.” (Selecting the survey method: Bias issues 2006). Thus, the research methods and techniques that were used were designed to be in terms of questions posed to respondents and analysis of their answers.

Time Horizons: It is seen that the maximum time limit that could be allowed for this study is 20 days. This research methodology seeks to provide a working schedule of the tasks involved and the allotted time for their execution.

How did you select your sample need explaine

Under a cross-sectional balance, samples are drawn that represent all, or most of the different parts that the whole contains. In other words, in the context of this study of Tesco, in order to ensure wider representation and participation, the different levels, or hierarchy in the work force would form part of the respondent team. Thus not only would customer assistants be invited to be represented in this study, but also line functionaries like sales boys and girls and apprentices. This is to avoid errors arising out of bias and perceived discrimination in this study.

The above schedule depicts the categorization and sub-tasking of various tasks needed for this study on work life balance.

Mathematical tools and instruments used: For this study on work life balance, it is intrinsic that the date be presented through MS Excel. Advanced statistical tools are not be used, considering the fact that SPSS may not be able to make much of difference, since the data itself is moderate and results could be well established through use of Excel sheets. Since the main results could be gained through use of Excel the use of other advanced statistical tools, at this stage, is not envisaged.

Credibility of research

“It is now proposed to come to the main section of this research methodology- that is with regard to the authenticity and credibility of this research. It needs to be seen that unless the methods adopted are clear-cut, simple and amenable for further research and analysis, this study would not gain its expected gains and goals. For the research to have significantly high credibility it is necessary sampling errors and bias are avoided. In the event errors and bias creep in, it is common knowledge that the study would be vitiated and the findings would not be correct, and would be thus self-defeating. Subject or participant error, or subject or participant bias could creep into the study, creating scope for wrong judgement if significant. These errors may be due to wrong choices of the researchers, or wrong interpretations of correct data. Duplication of data, ascribing incorrect or absent values, discrimination that creeps in inadvertently or wilfully, are all aspects that could throw the study off course and render it fatuous. Therefore, it is obligatory on the part of the research team to take necessary to root out errors, or instances of bias at the early stages itself, thus leaving little room for complacency or discrimination, either in the choice of research instruments or in their intent and application. “

“The next aspect that needs to be considered is that of validity. This means whether the research study and its application hold good in the present context. It is possible that three different kinds of research on the same item may bring forth different interpretations, or results. These are thus, inconsistencies that need to be cleared and the norms of consistency demand that observer errors and bias needs to be rooted out and eliminated, even at its early stages. It needs to be observed at this stage that consistency, validity and appropriateness of the study instruments are major factors that need to be addressed. Moreover, it is also evidences that this research does not inculcate personal interviews or discussions, and thereby delineates the scope and breadth of the research methodology considerable. Therefore, it is mandatory that the methods followed are correct, acceptable, logical and amenable to further research studies and analysis. The main drawback with inductive, qualitative and cross- sectional survey with questionnaires is that a large quantum of seemingly differentiated mass of data may be forthcoming, which needs to be made coherent, cohesive and relevant to the subject under study. For one thing, it is possible that the respondents may not be able to understand the issues in the way it has been intended by the survey group, and may provide inconsistent and biased opinions. There may be no comebacks, especially if it were internet questionnaires, and any analysis made on the strength of biased answers could itself be biased and statistically, untrue.

In case the research is credible, it is necessary to inform the top management accordingly so that institutional changes could be formatted into the company’s human resource policies that could bring about more efficient and effective work.

So what an you doing to case you research is credible

The main threats to the validity aspect could stem from certain surrounding factors, in the case of work life balance, it could be in terms of recessionary trends in the economy, inflation and lower spending capabilities due to high cost of goods, etc. There could be legal implications in terms of “working time limits, including rest breaks, paid holiday and limits on night work.” (Employment: Are you a ‘worker’ , ‘employee’ or ‘self employed’? Rights of workers 2009).

It could also be seen in terms of the fact that respondents may not speak out their minds while answering the questionnaires. Thus, the results would be based on biased or even incorrect renditions. Thus it is not only necessary that the research methods be correctly identified and instituted, but modus operandi of research also is correctly defined, formulated, enforced and implemented. If this is not so, the findings of the research would not be in sync with its aim and objectives, and there would be need to redo the study once again, using a different research instrument and different scenarios, etc.

Generalization

Next it is necessary to consider the aspects of generalization of declared results. This means the extent to which these results could safety is generalised, or used in a similar setting elsewhere. If one study validates the need for compulsory rest and leave for employees in say, the Tesco study, whether this could also be applicable for work life situations in other settings is a matter of conjecture and generalisation.

Ethical values

The ethical values in business are also important. “The most frequent positive ethical behaviour that employees report observing from a supervisor is giving proper credit where it is due.” (Verschoor 2007, para. 5). Besides, a sound research methodology also needs to consider ethical values of business, in terms of the fact that the research content needs to be kept strictly confidential. We would use anonymous names and identities in order to protect the true identity of respondents (so how are you going to do that all data can confidental no names an problem as which specific stores ) and used only for the purpose of research. The contents of research data and its results need to be confined within the Research Group and should not be made known publicly, without proper authorisation to any other person, or agency since this could compromise the secrecy and confidential nature of such studies. Besides, the research methodology also needs to consider that in future, it would become necessary to conduct larger studies, with more sample population with the aid of the present studies. In other words, this study could become the basis and premise for more detailed and elaborate studies on work life balance in the UK context.

Conclusion

The research methodology needs to delve into how the employees at Tesco, UK, view work life balance and its various ramifications, both in terms of their growth and promotional prospects in this organisation and also in terms of their home lives. A balance approach needs to be taken that could perforce employees to be able to fulfil commitments both in terms of work and at the home front. For the long term physical and mental health of employees and their continued productivity and contribution to the organisation, Tesco, for one, prefers employees to have flexible options in terms of work output, timings, compensation packages and benefits. This in tune with their work ethos and culture and keeping both the harmonious aspects of good relationships between employers and employees in mind. “Fulfilment comes from being holistic. Over indulgence and under indulgence, both are a crime.” (Give yourself a little bit more 2009, para. 4).

Reference List

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Employment: Are you a ‘worker’ , ‘employee’ or ‘self employed’? Rights of workers 2009, Directgov. Web.

Give yourself a little bit more 2009, Shine.com. Web.

Glossary of flexible working terms 2009, actnow Broadband Cornwall. Web.

Hooker, H., et al 2006, Employment relations research series No. 58: The third work life balance employees survey: Executive summary. Dti. Web.

Maslow, A H 2000, A theory of human motivation: The basic needs. Classic in the History of Psychology. Psychological Review. Web.

Qualitative research methods: A data collector’s field guide: Module 1: Qualitative research methods overview: What is qualitative research 2009, Docstoc. Web.

Research Goals 1994, tcm@sat. Web.

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Resolved question: Other answers: Dictionary: Triangulation 2009, Yahoo Answers. Web.

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What is the difference between inductive and deductive research? 2009, Blurt it. Web.

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