Quality of work life refers to the level of happiness or dissatisfaction with one's career. Those who enjoy their careers are said to have a high quality of work life, while those who are unhappy or whose needs are otherwise unfilled are said to have a low quality of work life.
Quality of life is defined as the level of enjoyment in a person's life. In general, it is based on many factors. At a minimum, a person's basic needs must be met for them to have a high quality of life—they must be generally healthy, have enough to eat and have a place to live. Once a person's basic needs are met, that person's quality of life is largely determined by their own personality, their desires and their level of personal fulfillment. A person with a high quality of life tends to feel as though all of their important needs and wants are fulfilled. They are generally happy and overall feel as though their life is good. A person without quality of life is lacking in one or several basic areas of his life. For example, the very ill or those who are no longer able to care for themselves or do activities they enjoy because of physical, mental or financial restrictions are often said to have a low quality of life.
Application to the Workplace
Quality of work life is specifically related to the level of happiness a person derives for his career. Each person has different needs when it comes to their careers; the quality level of their work life is determined by whether those needs are being met. While some people might be content with a simple minimum wage job as long as it helps pay the bills, others would find such a job to be too tedious or involve too much physical labor and would find such a position to be highly unsatisfactory. Thus, requirements for having a high "quality of work life" vary from person to person. Regardless of their standards, those with a high quality of work life generally make enough to live comfortably, find their work to be interesting or engaging and achieve a level of personal satisfaction or fulfillment from the jobs that they do. In other words, employees who are generally happy with their work are said to have a high quality of work life, and those who are unhappy or unfulfilled by their work are said to have a low quality of work life.
While requirements for a high quality of work life vary from person to person, certain factors are generally required for anyone to have a high quality of work life. These minimum factors are the equivalent of heath, food and shelter for standard quality of life; however, they are more specific to careers or jobs. For example, to have a high quality of work life, generally a person must be respected at work. Coworkers and senior level employees must treat them fairly and politely. The work must not cause the employee any physical discomfort or mental anguish. The employee must feel as though he is doing something enjoyable or at least not unpleasant. The worker must feel the salary he is paid is sufficient for the work he is doing. Finally, the employee must feel valued or appreciated, as though he is doing something of importance for the company.
Achieving a High Quality of Work Life
To achieve a high quality of work life, it is essential to choose a job that fulfills your needs. First, you must determine what those needs are. If you want a job that engages your mind and challenges you, it is important to understand that in advance so you can earn the qualifications that will allow you to obtain such a job. It is helpful if you choose a job you are interested in; you need to consider what your interests are and research jobs within those areas. Make a list of things you are looking for in a job and speak with a career counselor or attend career fairs to determine which jobs are most likely to fulfill those needs. Finally, pay attention to your interaction with existing employees when you go for interviews—the way you are treated by your boss and coworkers will have a tremendous impact on your quality of work life. You will want to ensure the culture of the business matches your own comfort level.
Dealing with a Low Quality Work Life
Unfortunately, despite their best efforts, some people find themselves with a low quality of work life. They may be forced to take a job they don't enjoy because of personal or financial circumstances such as a lack of options or eduction or qualifications. For those with a low quality of work life who are unable or unwilling to change jobs, it is important to cope effectively with the situation. Unhappy employees can attempt to improve their quality of work life by choosing to focus on the positive components of their jobs. A shift in mindset to focus on the benefits, even if those benefits are minimal, can improve the quality of work life. Unhappy employees can also explore opportunities to speak to coworkers and management to remove factors that reduce the quality of their work life, if possible depending on the job situation.