Work-Family Conflict and Its Impacts on Parties

Abstract

A family offers an opportunity for individuals to gain their initial understanding of the world. As a result, family members always wish to do the best for their families due to the attachment that they have with them. Work is also an important component of their lives since it offers them a source of income from which they draw their livelihood. However, cases of work-family conflicts are rampant. The research paper will address the conflict that arises when work pushes a parent into neglecting his or her children. Further, the paper will also investigate the impact that concentrating much on work has on marriages.

Besides, a company that wants its employees to spend much of their time working is bound to experience employee turnover. The paper will also address the implication of employee turnover to the employer. Based the above work-family issues, this research is conducted with the objective of gaining a deeper insight into how such conflicts affect the family, the employee, and the employer. Further, this research wishes to explore plausible solutions of such conflicts. The research derives literature from the existing sources that address the subject of work-family conflict. The findings of an annotated bibliography, which the paper will present, will be used to get the bigger picture concerning the issue.

Introduction

The ever-rising cases of work-family conflicts in today’s world have prompted scholars to research on their possible causes, impacts, and strategies that can be adopted to limit them. For instance, issues such as job pressure and customer peak hours, especially in the hospitality industry, have made employees experience excessive working hours. The situation results in psychological and emotional stress that can even trigger suicidal attempts from either or both parties. From the above highlights, this research paper deploys the finding of an annotated bibliography to find out the effect that excessive working hours have on employers, employees, and their respective families. Besides, this research recommends the possible solutions that can be adopted to curb such conflicts.

Literature Review

According to Stewart (2012), work-family conflict takes place when the demands of a person between family and work roles overlap and become incompatible, thus making it hard for the individual to participate in both roles effectively. Voydanoff (2005) also explores the issue of work and family conflict by critically suggesting that people need to look at it in a bidirectional way if they really hope to comprehend it. Another author who comprehensively addresses the issue of work and family conflict is Davis (2011). The focus of his discussion is on women who hold senior positions in companies and in the government. Somech and Drach-Zahavy (2012) explore this issue by focusing on the on the differences that exist between men and women when it comes to solving issues that relate to work and family conflict.

Women are often more willing to speak up about work and family issues with their bosses as a way of exploring the possibility of finding a balance that will help them manage the conflict they face with regard to work and family life. Beutell (2010) also delves into this issue by offering his opinion on the topic of work and family conflict. The author looks into some of the sources of conflict when it comes to an individual’s work and family roles. He takes cognizance of the level of scrutiny that the relationship between work and family life has undergone in recent years. Besides, the works of Bagger and Li (2012), Beham (2011), Behson (2002), Namasivayam (2004), Mortazavi, Pedhiwala, Shafiro, and Hammer (2009), Karatepe and Baddar (2006), and Kailasapathy and Metz (2012) will be quoted extensively in this research.

Analysis and Discussion

Impact on the Employer

To understand the subject of work-family conflicts, it is sufficient to analyze and discuss the results from the above literature review. All families and businesses have had to deal with work-family-related conflict. However, it is crucial to point out when such a conflict arises together with reasons that trigger it. Conflict takes effect at the individual’s work-life interface. Stewart (2012) adds that such work and family conflict has significant negative effects on the employer. He gives examples of such consequences as including, but not limited to, job stress, poor health on the part of the employee, high employee turnover for the employer, which increase hiring costs. The affected employer has to spend more resources on hiring of new employees as some of them leave the firm because of dissatisfaction. According to Stewart (2012), job stress makes employees lose focus and tend to relent on their duties, thus lowering their performance. The employer feels the overall effect. For instance, recruiting new workers implies that the employer has to incur unplanned costs of insuring the new employees (Beham, 2011).

In terms of addressing this topic, Stewart’s (2012) work is quite commendable since it reveals the significant impacts that such unplanned functions and spending have on the employer. For instance, a company might be terminated because of lack of funds or workforce (Beham, 2011). The employer also suffers the consequences of such conflict because employees who are affected by work and life conflicts tend to perform poorly in their work, thus producing a poor quality output. Flexibility at work is also a major issue when it comes to balancing between work and family. The employer’s work policies have the biggest impact on an employee’s ability to manage work-life conflict. In some occasions, employees are at the mercy of their employer since they depend entirely on them to meet their daily needs (Mortazavi, Pedhiwala, Shafiro & Hammer, 2009). Employers take advantage of this position to determine work schedules without giving much thought to other aspects of the employee’s life.

To achieve a balanced work-life, focus needs to be on the employer (Voydanoff, 2005) because the employers’ procedures have the biggest contribution in determining working hours for their employees. Excessive working hours have a significant effect on work-life conflict management. Where the employer recognizes and acknowledges the role that he or she needs to play in helping his or her employees establish a work-life balance and takes the necessary steps towards the achievement of this balance, he or she also stands to benefit at the end.

It is apparent that what employers care most about is the amount of profits that they stand to reap from their businesses. The level of profitability depends on the amount of sales that a firm is able to make (Karatepe & Baddar, 2006). In turn, this goal relies on the firm’s ability to market its products successfully and meet the needs of its customers (Behson, 2002). This situation puts pressure on the employer to do all that is within his or her means to fulfill the requirements of his or her market and maximize profits at the end. The result is that employers, especially in the hospitality sector, may overwork their employees by setting unrealistic targets that push hotel workers towards working until late hours at the expense of their families and their personal life (Namasivayam, 2004). This situation affects the employees’ ability to balance between work and their family roles. They become inefficient in either their family roles, work roles, or both.

Impact on the Family

According to Beutell’s (2010) research, the inter-role conflict is significantly responsible for about one third of the cases of strain in married people. In some cases, a female worker may be the manager of a certain business. Hence, she has to make sure that all activities in her business run as anticipated. Probably, she has to leave the office the last person trying to confirm that all departments are working according to the set objectives. On the other hand, such a worker might be a mother of children who expect her to attend to them. More so, she is also expected to attend to her husband. In this situation, such an individual will experience inter-role conflict when all sides want to see meet the expectations on the ground. The continued increase in the number of households where the couple is actively engaged in employment contributes immensely to the conflict experienced between family and work. For instance, a couple that does not meet frequently because of work-related reasons stands a higher chance of breaking from marriage. Either of the parties may feel abandoned to the extent of attracting unfaithfulness.

According to the Beutell (2010), the conflict experienced in work and family life affects negatively the quality of life of the individuals in their employee and family roles. A child’s development is highly dependent on the role that a parent plays in nurturing him or her. Children who have a limited interaction with their parents because they (parents) are busy with their work are bound to experience retarded development, which has a negative effect on their self-esteem. In some extreme cases, such abandonment is reflected in children who end up in streets (Somech & Drach-Zahavy, 2012). Others opt to fill the gap by indulging in drug and substance use, irresponsible sexual behaviors, and/or early marriages. The reason for these outcomes lies solely on the fact that they lack the parental aspect during their development.

From another perspective, single parents have the hardest time balancing between work and family, yet they have limited options when it comes to resolving this issue. The situation is worse in cases where such a parent is of a low economic status. Voydanoff (2005) tries to make a distinction between family-work conflict and work-family conflict. In accordance with his postulation, family-work conflict is experienced when familial experiences interfere with one’s work life, for instance unsupportive family members, children’s presence, and having to take care of the elderly within the family where one is forced to leave work early among others. On the other hand, work-life conflict takes place when workplace experiences interfere with one’s family life. The family may fail to spend holidays together. Such employed family members end up missing special family events (Bagger & Li, 2012; Kailasapathy & Metz, 2012). The effect of this absence on the family is that it may promote unfaithfulness among some couples as one may feel the other partner does not have time for him or her. Worse, continued separation may lead to divorce in some cases. Davis (2011) says that women are at times readily willing to sacrifice their careers when there is a conflict between family and work. He calls for more flexible arrangements for women to allow them fulfill their career goals. According to Davis (2011), enabling such women to work on a part-time basis will facilitate a better work-family balance that will see them manage their family roles well while at the same time advancing their careers.

Impact on the Employee

Voydanoff’s (2005) work captures the situation in the hospitality industry where employees are subjected to too much travel, inflexible or irregular working hours, work overload, interpersonal work-related conflict, unsupportive colleagues at work, and career change or advancement among others. Such conditions attract job dissatisfaction. Despite the situation where hotel employees, especially waiters and cashiers, have to spend the entire year in work, with few if any work-offs, they lack the ability to hire the services of persons such as house helps. These services may assist them with some of their family responsibilities and reduce the work life conflict that they may be experiencing (Stewart, 2012). According to Davis (2011), hotel employees are not able to spend holidays with their families because hotels are open all year round. The situation results in stress in the workplace.

Solutions to Work-family Conflicts

Work family conflict can be resolved through various intervention strategies. One of the strategies that can be applied is extending lunch break, for example from 30 minutes to one hour. This duration is recommendable for employees to be rejuvenated before proceeding with their after-lunch schedule. During lunch break, employees can have adequate time for their meals with their family members and/or even relax before embarking on afternoon duties (Boushey, 2011). Employees can also use the elongated break to attend to some family issues, thus lessening tension during the afternoon period. This strategy has worked in countries such as France. In this country, provision of longer lunch breaks to employees has resulted in less family conflicts and increased productivity.

According to Behson (2002), another intervention measure for resolving work-family conflict is the recognition of any unpaid work that an employee engages in. In this strategy, the employer shows recognition of the efforts of an employee through applauding, mentioning the task in a meeting, and/or issuing a written acknowledgment. Employee contribution to the company’s goals through volunteering or working extra time needs to be acknowledged. Once the acknowledgment is extended to the employees’ family, any conflict that might have arisen because of work is suppressed. This move motivates employees to balance their work and family. Behson (2002) also recommends the use of flexi-time. In this method, employees are allowed to work during their flexible time. For example, instead of having all employees starting to work at eight o’clock in the morning, employees are allowed to come to work at their best time, provided they are able to accomplish their duties on time. They can maximize their input within the short time they are committed to work, instead of spending the whole day at work while one is unable to concentrate for a long time.

Flexi-place is another intervention strategy for resolving work-family conflict. In this strategy, employees are allowed to attend work at different locations, for example using internet-linked computers. Flexi-place enables employees to work from home and other locations without having to be in the office. Working from home can offer ample time for employees to be with their families as they work. Flexi-place also saves time that is used for travelling to the workplace. Employees can use it to attend to their families. Finally, as Behson (2002) confirms, the government also needs to come up with policies that will promote workplace practices that can help in reducing employee-related conflicts. For instance, employees can engage in activities that bring them together as a way of making them feel as part of the company. This strategy can help employees to have more time with their family members while still not losing on their work performance. Boushey (2011) asserts, “The cornerstone is the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which first set out the nation’s regulatory wage-and-hours frame-work” (165).

Conclusion

Based on the expositions that the paper has made, it is sufficient to declare work-family conflict an issue whose impact can ruin not only employees and their employers but also their families. Hence, it is vital for organizations to ensure that they provide a working environment that allows employees to air out their family issues while at work. The paper has recommended several strategies that need to be implemented to help in reducing the effects of work-family issues in organizations.

Recommendations

Work-family conflict cuts in all ways. It affects employees, their families, and the organization. It is therefore important for organizations to intervention strategies that will uphold work-family life balance. The use of intervention measures such as extended lunch breaks, recognition of unpaid work, implementation of policies by the government, and the use of flexi-time and flexi-place can enhance work-family life balance at the advantage of the employee, his or her family, and the organization. It is also recommended that employers should interact closely with their employees to find out the possibility of any family issue that an employee is facing. Such a strategy will ensure that all employee issues are addressed properly as a way of maintaining their productivity in an organization.

Annotated Bibliography

Bagger, J., & Li, A. (2012). Being important matters: The impact of work and family centralities on the family-to-work conflict-satisfaction relationship. Human Relations, 65(4), 473-500.

Bagger and Li present work-family conflict as an important issue that families and organizations need to address to ensure fruitful interactions at the work and family level. The work will be used to draw solutions to work-family conflict.

Beham, B. (2011). Work-family conflict and organizational citizenship behavior: empirical evidence from Spanish employees. Community, Work & Family, 14(1), 63-80.

Beham’s work investigates the impact of work-family conflict on organizational performance. It will be deployed in the research when addressing the impact of work-family conflict on the employer.

Behson, J. (2002). Coping with family-to-work conflict: The role of informal work accommodations to family. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 7(4), 324-341.

Behson’s article presents various strategies that families can implement to reduce stress that is associated with too much work. The article will be used in presenting these tactics in the research paper.

Beutell, J. (2010). Work schedule, work schedule control and satisfaction in relation to work-family conflict, work-family synergy, and domain satisfaction. Career Development International, 15(5), 501-518.

This article is addressed to employers who give a tight work plan to their employees such that they do not have time for their personal life. The work will reveal the impact of long working hours on employee performance.

Boushey, H. (2011). The Role of the Government in Work-Family Conflict. The Future of Children, 21(2), 163-190.

This article presents the role that the government has to play to fight the issue of work-family conflicts. The author recommends the implementation of policies that address the issue under scrutiny.

Davis, N. (2011). Support, Demands, and Gender Ideology: Exploring Work-Family Facilitation and Work-Family Conflict Among Older Workers. Marriage & Family Review, 47(6), 363-382.

Davis’ work addresses the issue of inter-role conflict. His article will be used to expound on the impact of conflicting roles on an individual. The article will be used to expand on inter-role conflicts.

Kailasapathy, P., & Metz, I. (2012). Work-Family Conflict in Sri Lanka: Negotiations of Exchange Relationships in Family and at Work. Journal of Social Issues, 68(4), 790-813.

The authors present a case study of work-family conflicts in Sri Lanka. The findings will be crucial in terms of gauging the results of this research against the case study’s findings.

Karatepe, O., & Baddar, L. (2006). An Empirical Study Of The Selected Consequences Of Frontline Employees Work-family Conflict And Family-work Conflict. Tourism Management, 27(5), 1017-1028.

The authors present the options that employees take when they face a dissatisfying work environment. The work will be used to expand on employee turnover as one of these options.

Mortazavi, S., Pedhiwala, N., Shafiro, M., & Hammer, L. (2009). Work and family conflict related to culture and gender. Community, Work & Family, 12(2), 251-273.

The article presents the impact of a male-dominated workplace on the nature of policies that an organization can make to address work-family conflict. The work is significant in the research since it gives an insight into the need to ensure gender parity when laying organizational policies.

Namasivayam, K. (2004). The Relationship of Work-Family Conflicts and Family-Work Conflict to Job Satisfaction. Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research, 28(2), 242-250.

Namasivayam draws a distinction between work-family and family-work conflicts. The article will be utilized in the research to address both sides of the conflict.

Somech, A., & Drach-Zahavy, A. (2012). Coping with work-family conflict: The reciprocal and additive contributions of personal coping and organizational family-friendly support. Work & Stress, 26(1), 68-90.

The authors present the key strategies that an organization can adopt to manage work-family conflict. It will be deployed much to while recommending such strategies in the research.

Stewart, M. (2012). Family Care Responsibilities and Employment: Exploring the Impact of Type of Family Care on Work-Family and Family-Work Conflict. Journal of Family Issues, 34(1), 113-138.

Stewart lays some methods that families can deploy to cope with family-work and work-family conflicts. His work will be utilized while presenting strategies such as day care programs that can reduce employee stress at work.

Voydanoff, P. (2005). Work Demands and Work-to-Family and Family-to-Work Conflict: Direct and Indirect Relationships. Journal of Family Issues, 26(6), 707-726.

Voydanoff draws a clear-cut distinction between work-family and family-work conflict. His work is useful since it helps in determining how the two relate.

Reference List

Bagger, J., & Li, A. (2012). Being important matters: The impact of work and family centralities on the family-to-work conflict-satisfaction relationship. Human Relations, 65(4), 473-500.

Beham, B. (2011). Work-family conflict and organizational citizenship behavior: empirical evidence from Spanish employees. Community, Work & Family, 14(1), 63-80.

Behson, J. (2002). Coping with family-to-work conflict: The role of informal work accommodations to family. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 7(4), 324-341.

Beutell, J. (2010). Work schedule, work schedule control and satisfaction in relation to work-family conflict, work-family synergy, and domain satisfaction. Career Development International, 15(5), 501-518.

Boushey, H. (2011). The Role of the Government in Work-Family Conflict. The Future of Children, 21(2), 163-190.

Davis, N. (2011). Support, Demands, and Gender Ideology: Exploring Work-Family Facilitation and Work-Family Conflict Among Older Workers. Marriage & Family Review, 47(6), 363-382.

Kailasapathy, P., & Metz, I. (2012). Work-Family Conflict in Sri Lanka: Negotiations of Exchange Relationships in Family and at Work. Journal of Social Issues, 68(4), 790-813.

Karatepe, O., & Baddar, L. (2006). An Empirical Study Of The Selected Consequences Of Frontline Employees Work-family Conflict And Family-work Conflict. Tourism Management, 27(5), 1017-1028.

Mortazavi, S., Pedhiwala, N., Shafiro, M., & Hammer, L. (2009). Work and family conflict related to culture and gender. Community, Work & Family, 12(2), 251-273.

Namasivayam, K. (2004). The Relationship of Work-Family Conflicts and Family-Work Conflict to Job Satisfaction. Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research, 28(2), 242-250.

Somech, A., & Drach-Zahavy, A. (2012). Coping with work-family conflict: The reciprocal and additive contributions of personal coping and organizational family-friendly support. Work & Stress, 26(1), 68-90.

Stewart, M. (2012). Family Care Responsibilities and Employment: Exploring the Impact of Type of Family Care on Work-Family and Family-Work Conflict. Journal of Family Issues, 34(1), 113-138.

Voydanoff, P. (2005). Work Demands and Work-to-Family and Family-to-Work Conflict: Direct and Indirect Relationships. Journal of Family Issues, 26(6), 707-726.