Work and familial duties are the two most important features of adult life. Every adult has a sense of duty to fulfill to their families at the same time they must accomplish expected roles in the workplace. Work is essential for individual and family sustenance. The obligations required at the workplace and at family level may result in conflicts due to incompatibility in the sense of lack of time, stress and behavioural discordance between the two roles. Role conflict occurs when the concurrent demands of several responsibilities cannot be fulfilled satisfactorily given the time and energy that an individual has. Work-family conflict arises from reasons related to time, strain and behavioural requirements at the workplace as compared to the behaviour at the family level.
Work-family conflict may be based on strain, time or behaviour (Zhang, 2012). The strain basis of a work-family conflict may arise from pressure being experienced either at the workplace or at home having a negative impact on the performance of the other role. The time basis of a work-family conflict occurs when the time taken performing one role makes it impossible to take part in another role. For instance, overwork or overtime hours may make it impossible for a parent to attend a child's school meeting or academic clinic. Time-based work-family conflict results in employees getting distracted mentally as they are preoccupied with the thoughts of unmet family duties. Behaviour-based work-family conflict occurs when there exists a discordancy between the required manner of conduct at the workplace and the conduct at the family level. For example, a strict way of doing things may be appropriate in the workplace but not when dealing with family members which would require one to be understanding.
The unbalance between work and family duties may arise from several issues at the workplace and at home. Career advancement may necessitate the input of more time and energy in one's job obligations and a reduction in the attention paid to family duties. The stress as a result of attempting to fulfil these duties may result in a work-family conflict. Due to the high economic demands of businesses, employees are assigned more roles and responsibilities as organizations cut on their labour costs, the employees may not be well adapted to effectively manage the increase in job tasks besides fulfilling family roles( Zhang et al, 2012). A work-family conflict may also arise when an employee is faced with a straining family situation, for example, caring for a sick family member. The employee will be faced with a difficult situation in which they have to simultaneously attend to the needs of the sick family member and perform their employment duties; this will be hard due to the psychological and physical strain being experienced by the employee.
A work-family conflict may also result from family disagreements. Unsolved marital disputes and family legal issues may cause mental distractions at the workplace resulting in the loss of concentration and reduced productivity. The spillover of the pressure at home may strain relationships with co-workers and even clients in service-based industries like the hotel industry.
Work-family conflict may result in an adaptive or maladaptive reaction from the employee besides differentiated emotional behaviour. The employee may adopt positive reactions to the work-family conflict like job creation and self-improvement. This will be essential in ensuring that the employee is effective in trying to manage family roles and employment obligations. Maladaptive reaction to the family work conflict will involve negative coping mechanisms like withdrawing and being aggressive to family members as a result of the stress experienced in the workplace. Stress at the workplace increases irritability at home and marital disagreements. Aggressive reaction to the work-family conflicts only results in more strain on the employee as he or she cannot get the support of his family members in order to cope well with the pressure at the workplace. An employee may also exhibit feelings of guilt and shame when the with family members may elicit feelings of not being a good parent, the parent would be at odds to make family members and children understand why the job was accorded more significance than spending time with them. Emotional exhaustion as a result of the work-family conflict reduces the performance of an employee and familial duties (Golden, 2012). The employee turnover intentions may increase as a coping mechanism to deal with the work-family incompatibility roles.
Work-family conflict has tremendous impacts on employee performance and productivity. Organizations and businesses need to create family supportive working environments to ensure that their employees have enough time and energy to attend to their familial obligations. The working schedules should be organized in a manner that the employees get enough and favourable off-duty hours to spend with their family members (Buonocore, 2013). The schedule should also have room for flexibility to cater for emergency family situations.
Counselling should be offered to employees who are experiencing stress and pressure both at home and in the workplace. This is important so as to find a solution to the job stressors.
Golden, Timothy D. "Altering the effects of work and family conflict on exhaustion: Telework during traditional and nontraditional work hours." Journal of Business and Psychology 27.3 (2012): 255-269.
Buonocore, Filomena, and Marcello Russo. "Reducing the effects of work-family conflict on job satisfaction: the kind of commitment matters." Human Resource Management Journal23.1 (2013): 91-108.
Zhang, Mian, Rodger W. Griffeth, and David D. Fried. "Work-family conflict and individual consequences." Journal of Managerial Psychology 27.7 (2012): 696-713.
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