Job Quality Indicators » Work-Life Balance

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How Work-Life Conflict Affects Organizations

There is little doubt that employee work-life conflict affects an organization’s ‘bottom line.’

In addition to feeling more job stress, employees who experience high role overload or work-to-family conflict are less satisfied with their job, less committed to their employer, more likely to quit, and are less likely to consider their organization to be a good place to work. These indicators have direct implications for recruitment, retention and productivity.


Role Overload Hurts Employee Commitment, 
Satisfaction and Retention 

Source: Duxbury and Higgins (2001). Work Life Balance in the New Millennium:
Where Are We? Where Do We Need to Go?

As the chart shows, the level of role overload has a considerable effect on job satisfaction. While 60 percent of employees with low role overload in 2001 reported a high level of job satisfaction, this was true of only 30 percent of respondents with high role overload. Similarly, 58 percent of those with low role overload were highly committed to their employer, compared with only 47 percent of those reporting high role overload. Even more striking is the effect that high role overload has on job stress. While very few in the low role overload category agreed that their job was highly stressful, 44 percent with high role overload said that their job was highly stressful.


Work-Family Conflict Hurts Employee Satisfaction,
Commitment and Retention

Source: Duxbury and Higgins (2001). Work Life Balance in the New Millennium:
Where Are We? Where Do We Need to Go?

A similar picture emerges regarding work-family conflict. Firstly, this type of conflict is strongly related to job satisfaction. While 60 percent of those with low work–family conflict expressed a high level of satisfaction with work, the same could be said for only 20 percent of those with high conflict. Also note the strong relationship between work–family conflict and job stress. High levels of job stress was six times more common among those indicating that their work often got in the way of their family, compared with those reporting low work-family conflict (57 versus 9 percent).

Not surprisingly, work to family conflict also is linked to employee retention. While only seven percent with low levels of conflict thought about quitting their job on a weekly basis, the desire to quit was almost four times higher (26 percent) among those reporting high levels of work-to-family conflict.

Finally, high levels of role overload and work-to-family conflict seem to affect absenteeism rates. Employees with low role overload and low work-to-family conflict missed an average of 6.8 and 7.8 days of work respectively during over the year, compared to 11.2 and 11.4 days, respectively, among their co-workers with high overload and high conflict (data not shown). These differences are significant. The direct costs of absenteeism to the Canadian economy due to work-life conflict is an estimated $3 billion per year.

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