Work life balance
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Work-life Balance. Lesson Objectives. At the end of this lecture, you should: Know why I/O psychologists and organizations are interested in the balance between employees’ work and non-work lives Know what happens when individuals experience a lack of balance

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Lesson objectives l.jpg
Lesson Objectives

  • At the end of this lecture, you should:

    • Know why I/O psychologists and organizations are interested in the balance between employees’ work and non-work lives

    • Know what happens when individuals experience a lack of balance

    • Understand how psychologists work to improve balance


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Work impacts quality of life & life (e.g., family, leisure) impacts work

Technology makes working from home easier & more commonplace

More dual earner couples, single parent families, need for elder care

Balance increases well-being & imbalance creates conflict between roles

Effective balance may have economic advantages for organizations

Effective balance may have advantages for positive life experiences, reduction in stress, “normal” life for children, all of which have economic and social ramifications

Why Is Studying Work-life Balance Important?


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Work impacts quality of life & what happens outside of work (e.g., family, leisure) impacts work

Technology makes working from home easier & more commonplace

More dual earner couples, single parent families, need for elder care

Balance increases well-being & imbalance creates conflict between roles

Effective balance may have economic advantages for organizations

Effective balance may have advantages for positive life experiences, reduction in stress , “normal” life for children, all of which have economic and social ramifications

Why Is Studying Work-life Balance Important? (Hidden Slide With Additional Speaker Notes)


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Roles and Work-life Balance (e.g., family, leisure) impacts work

  • People have formal roles at home and at work.

    • Example: employee, manager, team leader, union steward, parent, spouse, child.

  • Roles may also be informal at home and at work.

    • Example: chair of organization charity drive, pitcher for office softball team, PTA president, scout leader, etc.


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Roles and Work-life Balance, Continued (e.g., family, leisure) impacts work

  • Each of the roles has responsibilities and takes up time and energy

  • Being active in all roles without feelings of negative stress or overload is what constitutes balance

  • What happens when there is not balance?


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Conflict Between Work and Non-work Roles (e.g., family, leisure) impacts work

  • Consequences of conflict between roles

    • Dissatisfaction with work and with family

    • Distress at work and at home

    • Destructive parenting or other behaviors

    • Withdrawal from work and from family


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Occurrence of Conflict (e.g., family, leisure) impacts work

  • Does work interfere with family?

    • Work family conflict

  • Or does family interfere with work?

    • Family work conflict

  • Or both?


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Occurrence of Conflict, Continued (e.g., family, leisure) impacts work

  • Personality differences in conflict

    • Do some people experience more conflict than others?

    • Do some people interpret conflict differently?

    • Do some people react differently to conflict?

  • Gender differences in conflict

    • Do women or men experience more conflict?

    • Do women and men experience different kinds of conflict?

    • Do women and men react differently to conflict?


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Occurrence of Conflict, Continued ( (e.g., family, leisure) impacts workHidden Slide With Additional Speaker Notes)

  • Personality differences in conflict

    • Do some people experience more conflict than others?

    • Do some people interpret conflict differently?

    • Do some people react differently to conflict?

  • Gender differences in conflict

    • Do women or men experience more conflict?

    • Do women and men experience different kinds of conflict?

    • Do women and men react differently to conflict?


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Benefits of Multiple Roles (e.g., family, leisure) impacts work

  • Holding multiple roles may have more benefits than drawbacks

    • Both women and men show differences in psychological well-being when involved in work and family

    • Both men and women show greater physical health when holding multiple roles

    • Both men and women report healthier relationships when they hold multiple roles


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How Are Multiple Roles Beneficial? (e.g., family, leisure) impacts work

  • Multiple roles may benefit individuals in several ways

    • Buffering of successes and failures

    • Income

    • Social support

    • Experiences of success

    • Expanded self-concept


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Conflict Vs. Benefit (e.g., family, leisure) impacts work

  • Which seems more likely to result from multiple roles, conflict or benefit?

  • Factors influencing conflict vs. benefit:

    • Role quality

    • Number of roles

    • Time demands of roles


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How Might I/O Psychologists Help Organizations and Employees With Balance?

  • Continue to study effects of balance & conflict

  • Help organizations to measure work-life balance

  • Help organizations to identify and implement strategies for increasing balance

  • Help organizations design work to facilitate balance

  • Help workers take advantage of strategies


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Class Discussion: What Are Your Expectations? With Balance?

  • Do you expect to be in a marriage or a committed relationship?

  • Do you expect to have kids?

  • Do you expect to work?

    • Full-time?

    • After you have kids?

  • Do you expect to have “free” time?


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Bob is 45-year old man and an only child whose elderly, widowed mom has Alzheimer's disease. Bob needs to aid his mom with personal needs as well as such things as cooking, housework, buying groceries, etc. Bob is also a sales representative for an alarm company and must put in endless hours at the office in order to get a promotion to district sales manager.

What can Bob do to balance his work and non-work lives?

What can Bob’s organization do to help him balance his work and non-work lives?

Work-life Balance Exercise #1


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Work-life Balance Exercise #2 widowed mom has Alzheimer's disease. Bob needs to aid his mom with personal needs as well as such things as cooking, housework, buying groceries, etc. Bob is also a sales representative for an alarm company and must put in endless hours at the office in order to get a promotion to district sales manager.

Janet is a 26-year old wife and new mother. She has just returned to work after a 6-week maternity leave and found out that her husband, Bill, was laid off. Janet and Bill are both paying off student loans, they just put their new baby into a great daycare facility and bought a new car after the old one broke down.

How can Janet work toward balancing her work and non-work lives?

How can Bill help?

How can Janet and Bill work together so that they each have balance?


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Lesson Objectives Review widowed mom has Alzheimer's disease. Bob needs to aid his mom with personal needs as well as such things as cooking, housework, buying groceries, etc. Bob is also a sales representative for an alarm company and must put in endless hours at the office in order to get a promotion to district sales manager.

  • At this point, you should now:

    • Know why I/O psychologists and organizations are interested in the balance between work and non-work lives

    • Know what happens when there is a lack of balance

    • Understand how psychologists improve balance


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Instructor Resources widowed mom has Alzheimer's disease. Bob needs to aid his mom with personal needs as well as such things as cooking, housework, buying groceries, etc. Bob is also a sales representative for an alarm company and must put in endless hours at the office in order to get a promotion to district sales manager.

The following books, chapters, and articles were used in preparation of this module.

  • Barnett, R.C. & Hyde, J.S. (2001). Women, men, work, and family. American Psychologist, 56(10), 781-796.

  • Biddle, B.J. & Thomas, E.J. (1966). Role Theory: Concepts and Research. New York: Wiley.

  • Greenhaus, J.H., & Parasuraman, S. (1999). Research on work, family, and gender. In G.N. Powell (Ed.), Handbook of Gender and Work. (pp. 391-412). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

  • Hall, D.T. & Mirvis, P.H. (1995). Careers as lifelong learning. In A. Howard (Ed.) Changing Nature of Work, New York: Jossey-Bass.

  • Zedeck, S. (Ed.). (1998). Work, Families, and Organizations. New York: Jossey-Bass.


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