In modern conditions, a balance between work and non-work has become one of the most critical family and social concerns. It was researched that the work-family conflict is one of the main stressors in the workplace. These issues are analyzed in detail, especially through the men’s and women’s roles perspective. Nowadays, men meet more family responsibilities and they are more involved in single parenting issues than it was before. As a result, men have started to experience the increased stress levels and conflict between parenting and work responsibilities just like women do. Therefore, this paper is focused on the work and non-work balance and the role of men and women in this issue.
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Work that requires performing a huge variety of tasks makes employees participate less in family life. There are three theories according to which the family and work issues are linked, namely spillover, compensation, and segmentation (Lambert, 1990). The segmentation theory concerns the idea that the relationships between home and work are independent and segmented, which means that these areas do not affect each other. It is noted that segmentation does not appear naturally because of workers actively trying to separate work and family life to manage work-related stress. In general, the segmentation theory explains family life and work as completely separated areas of life that do not have any relations to each other (Redmond, Valiulis & Drew, 2006). The compensation theory is based on the belief that employees actively respond to the occurrence in both areas which lead to the position that they have to reach compensation for the lack of satisfaction at work or at home. However, the most popular theory is called the spillover, and it views the relationships between family and work as the effect that spills over from one to another. Spillover can be both positive and negative (Lambert, 1990). The positive spillover means that when the employees at work actively participate in decision-making process, they begin to use their newly developed skills at home to handle their children more effectively. The negative spillover can be expressed through the work problems that start to spread from the work activities to the daily life, since dissatisfied workers try to unleash their aggression on strangers, neighbors, and family members, while their fellow employees come home too distressed to spend some time with family (Lambert, 1990).
Staines also researched the spillover theory and defined its negative and positive approaches. Thus, according to Staines (1980), there are two competing approaches to the work and non-work relationships that appeared in the literature, namely positive and negative one. The positive approach asserts a fundamental similarity between what appears in the occupational environment and what transpires elsewhere. Such approach in literature is called congruence, continuation, isomorphism, identity, familiarity, generalization, extension, and spillover (Staines, 1980). The negative approach proposes an inverse association between work and non-work. It claims that work and non-work experiences tend to be antithetical. In bibliography, such approach is defined as heteromorphism, regeneration, competition, opposition, complementary, compensation, and contrast (Staines, 1980). Sok, Blomme, and Tromp (2014) also focused on the negative and positive spillover. According to the above-mentioned authors, the negative work-home interference is experienced by an individual because of the pressure of work and home areas on the person. Negative work-home interference can be divided into time-based and satin-based conflicts (Dikkers et al., 2007). The time-based conflict appears when time, devoted to one domain, makes it difficult to meet the expectations of the other domain. Strain-based conflict manifests itself through fatigue or strain produced in one domain, which affects the person’s performance in the other domain. At the same time, the positive work-home interference means that experiences in one domain provide an improvement of the life quality in the other one (Hanson, Hammer & Colton, 2006). Hence, the positive spillover from the workplace to home has the potential to impact the employees’ values and attitudes in the other domain.
Some researchers believe that the work-home interference can be linked with the organizational culture. The main point is that the organizational culture determines whether the employees are being supported in reaching the work-home balance (Guest, 2002). The supportive and innovative culture can be compared with the work-home spillover. Sok, Blomme, and Tromp provided the study that measured work-to-home spillover due to the negative and positive work-home interference measures. For this purpose, 418 alumni from two Dutch business schools have finished a questionnaire (Sok, Blomme & Tromp, 2014). The results showed that the supportive culture explained most of the variance in the positive work-home interference and strain-based negative work-home interference. The positive and negative work-home interference and supportive culture relationships were fully improved by the work-home arrangements basing on flexibility. At the same time, no connection was found between supportive culture and time-based negative work-home interference (Sok, Blomme & Tromp, 2014). In this way, the obtained results helped to suggest that supportive culture, provided due to the flexible work-home arrangements, can reduce the negative spillover and make the positive spillover from the work domain to the home domain even stronger.
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Organizational culture includes organizational support that is also a critical element in reaching work-home balance. The work-home culture is similar to the organizational support construction, which means that it can be viewed as the support type provided by the organization. Work-home support perceptions are strongly connected to the decreased turnover intentions, increased organizational commitment, and greater level of job satisfaction (Beauregard, 2011). Apart from this, a significant contribution can be upper management attitude due to which the work-home interference can be reduced. Structural support involves such mechanisms as reduced workloads, virtual or teleworking arrangement, job redesign, or other non-traditional formal policies and works arrangements that are related to leave and childcare assistance (Murphy & Doherty, 2011). Cultural support is defined as informal workplace relational and social support, including organizational climate and supportive supervisors (Kossek et al., 2010). Such initiatives have to be provided by means of senior management, because senior managers are those who are primarily responsible for the effective performance of the operations within an organization. A research that supports the idea of organizational home-work culture influence on work-home interference levels among the employees can serve as sufficient evidence. According to it, the negative consequences of career prospects for those who made attempts to balance the home and work issues were associated with increased level of interference with home, while provided work-home support from the senior management was related to the decreased levels of work interference with home (Kinnunen et al., 2005). Moreover, in the other study, the employees that work in the climate of strong and continuous work demands reported on higher levels of work interference with home and home interference with work (Kossek, Colquitt & Noe, 2001). Consequently, the organizational culture support is highly important in maintaining the work-life balance.
A determining factor that impacts work-home issues is role importance. It refers to the psychological importance of a specific role in the person’s life. It is considered that the role importance can directly affect the person’s well-being, life satisfaction included (Wolfram & Gratton, 2014).The importance of family and work roles can be a major contribution to the home-work balance improvement (Greenhaus & Powell, 2006). The role importance has a direct effect on the spillover between home and work. In one study, individuals with high career-role importance were found to experience higher work-home conflict, while the individuals with high family-role importance reported on higher work-home conflict (Carlson & Kacmar, 2000). According to the research, 201 workers examined negative and positive spillover from home to work and its connection to the level of life satisfaction (Wolfram & Gratton, 2014). It became clear that positive spillover from home is interrelated with higher life satisfaction, while negative spillover from work is connected to the lower life satisfaction (Wolfram & Gratton, 2014). Hence, it is possible to assume that career and family roles importance are strongly related to the higher level of life satisfaction.
In the work-life balance, managers play a great role as managerial support is crucial in both essential spheres of life. In this case, managerial support can be highly important in predicting the levels of strain, both directly and indirectly, through the work-home interference. According to the UK study that used data from the public sector, the supportive work-home culture for the employees was related to the decreased levels of psychosomatic strain (Beauregard, 2011). Various support types were differently perceived by men and women. For instance, the managerial support had the most beneficial impact on women’s well-being, while the organizational time demands had the strongest impact on men’s well-being (Beauregard, 2011). In general, there are two main theoretical attitudes toward the work-life balance policy establishment by the employers (Todd & Binns, 2013). The first is the rational choice approach that is often described as the business case, while the second one is the institutional perspective, where management is pressured to make changes to the other institutions such as unions or firms in own environment (Todd & Binns, 2013). Managers play a critical role in framing the nature of the problems. Frequently, the problem is represented as one of individual circumstances and choice. Generally, the proposed solutions are to work from the comfort of one’s home, work flexible hours, or work fewer hours (Todd & Binns, 2013). Such programs are aimed at eliminating such issues as work overload, the culture of long hours, poor work design, gender role stereotypes, and adverse carrier (Overington, 2006). In addition to such organizational barriers, managers have to consider the wider work-life balance in socioeconomic context. Globalization has increased pressure both on the managers and on the employees. The main point is that individuals are expected to be responsible for their families, while society and colleagues are not interested in their needs as well as in the affordable elder care and childcare provision (Todd & Binns, 2013). However, managers can be regarded not only as the source of implementation of home-work balance initiatives but as people who suffer from the work-home misbalance pressure the most.
Over the last sixty years, both home and work domains underwent serious changes. Balancing home life and work has become extremely difficult for the private individuals and employees, especially for those who held managerial positions. From the historical perspective, managers were expected to work even harder than their employees. Typically they are expected to work long hours and to be always present at work in front of their colleagues and bosses. The main problem lies in the fact that they are able to control, but at the same time they have to be controlled (Warhurst et al., 2008). These people are required to be at work earlier than other team members and to stay at work long after the official end of the workday. Such actions are used to demonstrate managers’ loyalty and commitment (Moore, 2007). Similar attitude is still very common in modern organizations and it raises the issue of a gender factor in the managerial work (Warhurst et al., 2008). The pressure of high-performance expectations and long working hours is typical for the traditional masculine cultures in management, and it reduces time for the domestic life (Warhurst et al., 2008). Therefore, the work-life balance has become even a more critical problem for managers than for other people.
Organization and individual factors related to the work-life balance can strongly impact the employees’ health and well-being. In broad terms, the work-life balance is often defined as the level of employees’ satisfaction and good functioning of their numerous roles in the work and non-work domains (Zheng et al., 2015). It provides the absence of the work-family conflict in facilitating or controlling the individual’s multiple roles (Kalliath & Brough, 2008). The family-work conflict leads to the poor mental and physical health. For instance, the study used the data of 365 employees to examine the relationship between psychological distress, parental stress, marital adjustment, and job exhaustion. It was concluded that the job exhaustion combined with long working hours fueled the work-family conflict, lowered the employees’ psychological well-being, and increased parental stress (Rantanen et al., 2008). There is also a direct link between individual strain and supportive culture. It is believed that the organizational support reduces psychosomatic and psychological strain due to the fact that employees are enabled to have emotional support and material aid available when it is needed to meet high work demands (Beauregard, 2011). Most importantly, due to the home-work organizational support the strain experience can be reduced through the helpful managers’ provision, reasonable priorities and work-related expectations, and sympathetic colleagues. The work-home interference as the environmental type of stressors is linked strongly to the outcome of the employee strain. Both interference directions are connected with increased psychosomatic strain symptomology levels that include such sensations as depression, fatigue, and anxiety, and also such physical complaints as insomnia, palpitations, and headaches (Eby et al., 2005). The indirect relationship was found between employees’ somatic complaints and supervisor’s home-work support, mediated by general interference between work and home environment. The main point is that the more supportive the supervisions are, the less interference associated with less somatic complaints such as sweaty palms, insomnia, and headaches was experienced. Furthermore, the work-home culture can impact the employee strain by improving the interference and strain between work and home, thus by acting as coping resource (Beauregard, 2011). To improve this situation, the organization has to provide the health and well-being programs that will increase the health of the employees and chances of the organizational success. Such programs usually provide healthy breakfasts and lunches as well as organization-based programs of physical exercises and gym that aim to prevent diseases and higher employee retention rates on the workplace (Baicker et al., 2010). Another way to stabilize the work-home balance is to provide the childcare assistance programs, beginning from the organizationally sponsored day care services to subsidized childcare fees for the provision of information with referral services. To prove these statements, the author used data of 700 employees examining the home-work strategies and organizational programs (Zheng et al., 2015). It was discovered that the employees that exercised their own work-home strategies showed better health conditions and well-being in comparison with those who did not. They were more able to reach the work-home balance. The organizational work-home programs helped the employees to reduce their stress and to improve their health.
Appropriate understanding of the relationship between family life and work requires realization of the gender role in these issues. A vast number of single parents and dual careers at work have recently led to a greater number of employees trying to find a balance between work and home. In the end, it has resulted in the work-home conflict, where the work and home demands interfere with each other, which makes it difficult to combine these activities (Wolfram & Gratton, 2014). Very often women can represent the different types of work, and the main question relates to women’s and men’s response toward similar stress and rewards. Modern researches showed that there are more similarities between male and female reactions to their working conditions. The crucial aspect in this case is that they can play different roles at home and work, but they are similarly affected by the specific households and job characteristics (Lambert, 1990). Nevertheless, there are several views on the question who suffers from the home-work misbalance more: women or men. On the one hand, it is often believed that work is men’s domain, while women are responsible for home management. Not surprisingly, the same gender differences can be expected from the work-home culture and employees strain (Beauregard, 2011). Despite some evidence that male participation in domestic chores increases, a vast majority of women still have to handle the household and children. Employed women spend significantly more time striving to combine household and work activities in comparison with men, which leads to the higher psychological distress (Beauregard, 2011). Hence, busy women appear to suffer more from the negative impact of work-home issues. On the other hand, some researchers insist that men have more difficulties with balancing between work and home, because in the managerial work men were noticed to work more extra hours after the end of the work day. Owing to this, they had more serious trouble with managing family responsibilities, and in some cases home issues were simply ignored due to the lack of time and energy (Drew et al., 2003). Therefore, it is difficult to say what role exactly women and men have in the work-home issues because of quite opposite opinions. However, it is possible to claim that in future a gender gap is going to decrease, which will influence greatly the roles of men and women. The principal issue is that the number of women in the labor market keeps increasing, which means that the work-home balance will become even more important. In addition to the increased number of single parent among men, the same situation is expected with women. Thus, in the nearest future, tone might expect equal gender roles due to which the need for work-home balance will be on the same level both for men and women.
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Without an understanding of the link between the family life and work, it would be difficult to identify some effective strategies aimed at helping workers to find a right balance between these two issues. Nowadays, the organizations are starting to implement some family supportive policies such as employee counseling programs, flexible working hours and locations, eldercare programs, childcare provisions, and parenting leave (Lambert, 1990). Such policies help workers to combine family and work responsibilities without damaging workplace productivity. One of the most popular ways to improve the home-work balance is the issue of flexibility. Flexible working arrangements involve special leave possibilities, career breaks, compressed hours, short-term contracts, flexitime, job sharing, and part-time work (Murphy & Doherty, 2011). Work flexibility includes two characteristics, namely flexible working hours and telecommuting (Rafnsdóttir & Heijstra, 2013). From one perspective, flexible working hours provide employees with the certain amount of freedom to decide when to start and finish their work day. From the other perspective, telecommuting provides the employees with the ability to decide where they work as long as they have the phone connection and the Internet (Rafnsdóttir & Heijstra, 2013). Autonomy is in close relation to flexibility, and it was argued that flexibility at work only improves the work-home balance (Reeves et al., 2007). Additionally, it decreases the stress level among workers and improves the productivity level (Rafnsdóttir & Heijstra, 2013).
Over the last several decades, the organizations have been actively implementing such alternative work schedules as compressed workweeks and flextime. According to the report that surveyed more than a thousand organizations, around 66% offered flexible schedules, while 21% proposed compressed work schedules (Baltes et al., 1999). In general, alternative work schedules can be defined as schedules that do not fit the fixed eight-hour work day and forty-hour week (Baltes et al., 1999). Apart from this, a relatively flexible schedule indicates that employees have a choice to make their own decisions as to what time of the day they have to arrive at work and leave it. The employers develop a band of core time, where every employee has to be present. They are free to come before the core start time and leave after the core finish time, even though there are some limits. Another critical issue is that the carryover degree is allowed. Some companies do not allow any hour carryover, while other allows carryover on a weekly basis (Baltes et al., 1999). At the same time, the compressed workweek means that the week is restricted to less than five work days by increasing the number of hours that are required from employees per day. The most widespread form is the four work days and forty-hour workweek, in which the employees simply work for four days but for ten hours per day (Baltes et al., 1999). In essence, the workplace flexibility practices (WFPs) have a great role in the relationship between corporate performance and individual component. Currently, there are many flexibility practices in the workplace. WFPs provide various outcomes for the employers and employees. One of the reasons of the WFPs promotion is ability for the employees to reach the work-life balance, increase job satisfaction and commitment with stress reduction, and to improve the employee attendance (Glover and Butler, 2012). Moreover, these results can influence the corporate performance. People in Britain have increased abilities to work from home, flextime, and part-time work. It was estimated that in this country 96% of workplaces provide some flexible working forms, and the most popular forms are part-time working (88%), flextime (50%), and work from home on a regular basis (54%) (Whyman et al., 2015). Hence, the WFPS can be presented as a part of high-performance creation in the work practice. According to the research, the corporate performance has strong relations with the WFPs in times of economic distress, when it is crucially important for the companies to increase their success potential. Various workplace practices, such as functional and numerical ones, are matched to the full spectrum of WFPs cost. They are assessed with regard to their link to the corporate performance objective measure, depending on workplace types. The research disaggregated model utilizing a workplace flexibility to produce results tailored to such different workplace characteristics as size and unionization, wage levels, and workplace age and ownership. It also cleared the connection between the corporate performance key issues and WFPs (Whyman et al., 2015). The results showed that WFPs guarantee success despite potential pitfalls that can be associated with low or high corporate performance. Around a half of the nineteen WFPs studies were positively associated with the corporate financial turnover, which means that their implication is more likely to lead to better financial organizational outcomes (Whyman et al., 2015). Therefore, the results proved that WFPs are valuable organizational resources and competitive advantage sources with particular regard to their potential that is related to high corporate performance.
In conclusion, it is critical to notice that work-life balance plays a great role for the employees and managers, since in the modern conditions it is very difficult to deal effectively with both home and work responsibilities. A gender aspect takes a large part in these issues, because men and women can accept such responsibilities differently. In general, there is no single understanding of the roles of women and men in the work and life balance issues due to the controversial opinions. However, it is a matter of the utmost importance for both sides. To handle such negative results of the work-home misbalance as distress, depression, and lack of success, it is necessary to provide some programs that will improve the situation with a home-wok problematic issue.