In terms of Indian context, the concern over work-life balance is gradually becoming a common talk. When employees go back to their homes, they should not carry any organizational stress with them. An individual has two roles to play- personal and professional; each role having different set of demands. When such role demands overlap, multiple problems are faced leading to losses for all concerned: the individual, the family, the organization and the society. In sales job, the performance pressure is considerably high leading to stress and other problems. This exploratory research is an attempt to study the work-life balance issues with reference to area sales managers working in pharmaceutical sector. The results derived from data analysis reveal significant results with respect to work-life equilibrium. The study has wide implications for industry in particular.
Sales have been considered as one of the most rewarding and challenging fields of employment in India. This field has its own charm and identity, which is different from other fields of specializations. Due to attractive remuneration package, extensive traveling involved and target-driven performance incentives, many ambitious candidates enter into sales and get success. This field is most suitable for aggressive, extrovert, result-oriented persons, who like extensive traveling and meeting people. This field of employment has been usually dominated by male aspirants. However, due to opening of markets and attraction for sound remuneration, many female incumbents have started entering into sales.
Among all the industry sectors, pharmaceutical sector is known for its unique marketing approach. Barring on-the-counter drugs, pharma companies cannot directly float their advertisements on various channels. They have to depend solely on direct sales. The uniqueness of the pharma sector lies in the fact that the companies do not target the customer or consumer, rather they target the reference person i.e. the medical practitioner. A sales person in Pharma Company has to meet the doctors, explain about the medicines and request for prescriptions. Similarly, he/she has to contact the medicine retailers (medical stores) for ensuring regular supply of company’s products. In this manner, the job of sales person in pharma becomes more special and difficult since he/she has to convince a person who is more qualified than him/her.
Primarily, a working person has two roles to play: professional and personal roles. This has a significant role in shaping the performance of an individual especially in Indian context. Along with the role of an employee, the person has to do justice with various other roles of like: son/daughter, husband/wife, father/mother etc. Each role demands specific expectations from incumbents. Due to factors organizational and personal factors, role clashes are observed which lead to adverse effects on performance at all levels. Role clash is also caused by the reverse relation i.e. personal level stress affecting job performance. This role clash results into stress and burnout leading to work-life imbalance. Work-life balance is a state where an individual manages real or potential conflict between different demands on his or her time and energy in a way that satisfies his or her needs for well-being and self-fulfillment (Clutterbuck, 2003).
Work-life imbalance is a common phenomenon seen in salespersons. In sales, one has to work on toes to complete the sales targets. At times, their performance goes down due to internal and external factors. This starts affecting their personal lives as well. Work-life balance can be represented as two spheres indicating two lives: personal and professional. Figure 1 represents regular interaction between two spheres. The semi-permeable spheres denote regular contact of these spheres with external environment. As shown in figure 2, when organisational life sphere starts intruding into personal life sphere or vice- versa, imbalance gets started.
There must be proper balance between these spheres. The achievement of better work-life balance can yield dividends for employers in terms of having a more motivated, productive and less stressed workforce that feels valued; attracting a wider range of candidates; increased productivity and reduced absenteeism; gaining the reputation of being an employer of choice; retaining valued employees; achieving reduced costs and maximizing the available labour (Byrne, 2005). In Indian context, the concern of work-life balance becomes imperative for all concerned. This study is an attempt to throw light on work-life balance issues with reference to area sales managers in pharma companies. Area sales manager in pharma company is the position typically above the frontline salespersons (i.e. medical representatives), who has to report to regional sales manager.
In this section, a review of selected research work conducted in this subject matter is mentioned. Moncrief et al (1997) have examined the precursors and consequences of salesperson job stress. According to authors, there are a number of organizational variables including met expectations, role conflict, role ambiguity, job satisfaction, organization commitment and intention to leave which influence job stress. Low et al (2001) have studied the antecedents and outcomes of salesperson burnout with special reference to Australia. They found that intrinsic motivation, role ambiguity and role conflict are significant antecedents of burnout and performance is the outcome. Crooker et al (2002) have studied the relationship between life complexity and dynamism that affect work-life balance. The authors have explained individual value systems on the relationship between life complexity and work-life balance. Guest (2002) has explored the reasons why work-life balance has become an important topic for research and policy in some countries.
Mcdowell (2004) has elaborated the ways in which organizations and institutions operate at a range of scales as well as new sets of responsibilities towards co-workers, members of households and the public. Byrne (2005) has highlighted the concept of the work-life balance as a means of tackling the problem of increasing amounts of stress in the work-place. Morris and Madsen (2007) have shown the importance of work-life balance. By better understanding work-life theory, HR professionals can contribute to the strategic development of policies, practices, programs and interventions. Moore (2007) conducted a research to compare work-life balance issues workers and managers of an MNC. It was concluded that many of the managers are not able to achieve work-life balance.
In a research, Hughes and Bozionelos (2007) observed that work-life imbalance was not only a source of concern, but also that it was the major source of dissatisfaction for participants. To establish and illustrate the levels of awareness of work-life balance policies within the surveying profession in Australia and New Zealand, Wilkinson (2008) conducted a research. It was concluded that the consequences of an imbalance between work and personal or family life is emotional exhaustion, cynicism and burnout.
OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
In India, the rising cases of stress-related problems among people give an alarming situation. Now, people in the age groups of 30s and 40s are suffering from health problems due to work pressure and other problems. In this study, the major issues concerning work-life balance are delved into with reference to area sales managers in pharma companies in Andhra Pradesh. The objectives of research are as follows:
- To study the work-life balance issues with reference to area sales managers in pharma Companies.
- To study the factors affecting work-life balance of such managers.
- To determine the factors leading to work- life imbalance of such managers.
- To suggest measures for perfect equilibrium between effective work and life.
It was an exploratory study for the purpose of looking into work-life balance concerns in case of area sales managers employed in pharma companies in Andhra Pradesh. There were 120 respondents selected from Vijayawada and Guntur. All of them were married male incumbents having one or two children. Medical representatives were not included in the study.
Sampling Technique: It was a simple, non- probability sampling that comprised of area sales managers.
DATA COLLECTION METHODS
Secondary data were collected from Internet, books, newspapers, journals, business magazines etc. For primary data collection, a self-administered and non-disguised five-point scale questionnaire containing 13 statements was used. The scale was Likert’s five-point scale where the respondents had to fill one choice ranging from strongly agree to strongly disagree. The questionnaires were handed over to 125 respondents, out of which 120 were received. After collecting the data, it was tabulated in Excel sheet and analyzed by using z-test Tools for data collection and analysis
HYPOTHESES OF THE STUDY
Null hypotheses were framed and tested for significance to prove the objectives in a systematic manner. The null hypotheses were as follows:
- H01 –There is no significant impact of nature of job on work-life balance proposition with respect to area sales managers in pharma companies.
- H02 – There is no significant impact of work-life equilibrium on overall performance of area sales managers.
The above null hypotheses were tested and results were drawn.
RESULTS OF THE STUDY
On applying the formula of z-test, both the null hypotheses were found to be rejected at 0.05 level of significance. The result of hypothesis testing by z-test is shown in table 1. It shows that there is significant impact of work-life equilibrium on overall performance of area sales managers. Similarly, work-life equilibrium has major impact on overall performance of sales people. It can be largely attributed to the nature of job. The job of area sales manager involves monitoring medical representatives and reporting to regional sales manager. They have to work with medical representative and solve their problems concerning doctors’ prescription, retailer issues etc. Some of them reported the feeling of getting ‘sandwiched’ between their juniors and seniors (i.e. medical representatives and regional managers). It seemed that they were happy at the position of medical representatives. Some respondents mentioned the examples of medical representatives who were working on the same position for a long time because they have not accepted the promotion as area sales manager.
In pharmaceutical sales, one has to enter as medical representative and get promoted as area sales manager, regional sales manager and zonal manager. Due to the entry of big players, the competition has become fiercer than ever. The doctor has much wider choice of prescription for his patients. While a representative is answerable to a limited market; area sales manager has a broader domain to control. He is responsible for collective efforts of his team of representatives in terms of sales performance. Moreover, due to extensive traveling, the area manager feels exhausted. Some respondents have cited the examples of companies whom they call ‘pressure cooker’. These are the companies known for extreme sales pressures. In this sector, job hopping has become a common trend. This causes multiple problems in personal and social life as well. It can be finally inferred that work-life imbalance is a significant factor leading to overall performance of sales persons.
CONCLUSION AND SUGGESTIONS
The study has many implications for pharmaceutical companies in particular. Increasing cases of work-life imbalance have resulted into high rates of employee turnover. In this study, more than one-third of respondents have wished to quit the field of sales and try their destiny elsewhere. This is the high time when HR people should make more serious efforts towards striking a balance between work and life for their sales persons. It will finally end up in a win-win equation for all. When employees reach their homes, they should not carry any organizational stress with them. Work-life balance policies are beneficial for individuals, their families, organizations, and society (Brough et al, 2008).
The toughest challenge faced by HR managers is retention of talent. There is a need to make the job profile of sales persons more promising and less stressing. The nature of a specific job position cannot be changed, but the way it is performed requires a change. Sales department is the most vital function in a pharmaceutical company; it is the life blood. There are some pharma companies as reported by the respondents, which are known for relaxed working environment, flexibility and autonomy in sales department. These companies have most stable employees and fairly good financial yields. In a nutshell, there should be a human side in managing the sales performance.
This study was confined to pharma-sector area sales managers in two cities of the state. The findings of the study should not be generalized for non-pharma salespersons. The results may also differ in case of managers in other functional areas. Further studies can be carried out on a large sample size and sector-based comparison can be done.
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