Current Research and Practice
New Horizons in Management series
Chapter 6: Work–Family Balance
OVERVIEW This chapter reviews current research concerning work–family balance. We define the types and directions of work–family balance and discuss why both employers and workers are becoming increasingly concerned about an effective ‘work–family fit’. We review the research evidence concerning the primary predictors of work–family imbalance (or conflict), the individual and workplace consequences of prolonged imbalance and the moderating factors which have been found to have the greatest influence on this balance relationship. Finally we evaluate some of the popular work–family balance organizational policies and provide recommendations for their usage. DEFINITIONS The accurate evaluation of individual health and performance should acknowledge the multiple life roles most individuals have. Hence the interest in evaluating health and performance in both the work and family (and other non-work) domains, which is characterized by the work–family balance literature. The bidirectional influence of work upon family-life and of family upon work-life is generally accepted as having both a positive influence (inter-role enhancement) and a negative influence (inter-role conflict) upon outcomes of health and performance (Brough and O’Driscoll, 2005). It is also evident that the two directions of conflict (work-to-family interference (WFI) and family-to-work interference (FWI)) are influenced by different antecedents and consequences. For example work can enhance family-life via the provision of financial resources and perceptions of achievement. However, work can also negatively influence family life through excessive demands such as overwork, shift-work and occupational stress. Similarly having a supportive personal relationship may enhance an individual’s work performance, but...
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