Handbook of Research on Work–Life Balance in Asia
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Handbook of Research on Work–Life Balance in Asia

Edited by Luo Lu and Cary Cooper

In Asian societies, work and family issues are only recently beginning to gain attention. The pressure of rapid social change and increasing global competition is compounded by the long hours work culture, especially in the Pan-Confucian societies such as Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, and South Korea. Furthermore, with the rising female labor participation, more and more Asian employees are now caught between the demands of work and family life.
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Chapter 12: The policies to support work–life balance and the impact of work stress on family life among emotional labourers in Korea

Jong-Min Woo


Korea has made great economic growth during the last 40 years. However, the aftermath of long working hours and work–life imbalance has adversely affected the birth rate and impaired productivity and job satisfaction among employees. The increasing number of long-distance married couples due to the corporate environment worsens employees’ stress from spending much time commuting and having difficulties in maintaining work–life balance (WLB). Spending more time at the workplace and work-related social gatherings, spending less time in family settings, and still-existing gender inequalities inevitably lead to the problems in WLB and life satisfaction, as indicated in some research articles and the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) Better Life Index. To improve WLB, the Korean government and workplaces have been trying to implement family-friendly policies and related corporate programmes during the last decade. As a result, much advancement has been achieved. The policies have been revised and updated almost every year to help employees to spend more time in raising children and in leisure/family activities. However, some companies are not willing to follow the policies and thus, the utilization rate of family-friendly programmes among corporates is still low. The work-oriented social culture is still very strong. Employees’ distress related with WLB issues and the details of WLB policies will be discussed in detail.

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