Moving into a world of economic restructuring and technology, there are now more women and dual-earner families in the workforce, which they have to face the pressure and heavy workload, as well as fulfilling their responsibilities at home, balancing between their work and non-work life are more critical than before.
Today many organisations have introduced flexible work arrangement (FWA) understanding that it is one of the important elements to help employees strike a balance between their responsibilities in work and at home to reduce work/family and family/work spillover. In this assay, the positive and negative work-family and family-work spillover will be analysed through demographic context and organisation context on how these factors have interfered and contributed to spillover.
Definition of Work
Watson (2017, p.409) defines work as “The carry out of tasks which enable people to make a living within the social and economic context in which they are located”. What Watson is implying is that people need to work to gain monetary benefits which helps them to sustain their living. But it is commented that not all “work” is paid, as in some situation, homemakers having more time to do voluntary social work which gives them life satisfaction and happiness by helping others, but the “work” does not bring them any income (Handy & Mook, 2011; Dong-Gi, 2007).
Definition of non-work
Non-work is defined as activities that take place with family or in people’s private life (Steyl ; Koekemoer, 2011). Non-work activities are classified as leisure and are not part of business obligation. However, there are arguments that for some activities such as company annual dinner and corporate responsibility events which are organised out of office hour, the organisation has classified them as leisure activities, but to some employees, they may feel obligated to attend and have considered it as part of their job (Morin, 2015).
Parker (1983) how people spend their time
For a better understanding of work and non-work, Parker (1983) has introduced five categories commenting how people spend their time; work, work obligations, physiological needs, non-work obligations and leisure.
Work is explained as the working time and paid employment which one received from contribution to work. Again it is stressed here that not all work is paid as many intern in United State have filed lawsuits against employers who did not pay them for their work during their internship (Suen ; Brandeisky, 2014).
An example of work obligations is the commuting time spend to and from work. But during commuting, people do spend time on playing games and watch movies with electronic devices which is a form of leisure. It can be argued that it is up to the individual on how they utilize or make good use of “work obligations” time.
The physiological needs are the generic needs for living such as sleeping and eating for one to survive and looking after children or doing housework are forms of non-work obligations. Fishel (2016) has suggested that people can make use of dinner time to connect with one another which other researchers have also state family dinners can benefit the body, brain and mental health. As for non-work obligations, when doing housework such as ironing, they may turn on the television entertaining themselves which is another form of leisure.
Leisure is the activities which one enjoys for own pleasure. As one may have a great interest in football, but when his boss having the same interest invited him for a game, leisure can now become work; obligated to accept the invite and to respond when his boss ask about work.
Definition of Spillover (positive ; negative)
Stevens, Minnotte, Mannon ; Kiger (2007) state that scholars have referred work-family spillover as “the push of family life into work life and vice versa”. Kahn, Wolfe, Quinn, Snoek ; Rosenthal (1964, cited in Greenhaus ; Beutell, 1985, p.77) state that work-family spillover is defined as “a form of inter-role conflict in which the role pressures from the work and family domains are mutually incompatible in some respect. That is, participation in the work (family) role is made more difficult by virtue of participation in the family (work) role”. Basically, the two authors have proposed a similar idea on work-family spillover being that work and non-work are somewhat interconnected and may interfere and affect the domain of each other.
The relationship between work ; non-work
Today’s organisation understands how the well-being of employees can benefit the company and has begun to introduce FWA, but it is to be understood that FWA has its’ positive as well negative impact that it may bring to cause work-family/family-work spillover. The underlying causes to consider are factors such as demographic context; structural changes of family role/status, gender differences and organisation context; workplace policies, culture and job structure.
Demographic context; structural changes of family role/status and gender differences
Guest (2002) states that work intensity has grown excessively and conversely work become more demanding which impede employees to balance their role expectation of work and home. The concept that men being the sole breadwinners for the family has evolved as there are now more women entering the workforce contributing to an increase of more dual-earners families (Karimi 2009).
Consequently, having both parents engaging in several roles can be complex and may cause work-family/family-work negative spillover (Steyl ; Koekemoer, 2011). Especially for women, cited by Gutek, Nakamura ; Nieva (1981, p4), “they now have to fulfil obligations both at home and at the job – but in most cases, this has not meant a corresponding assumption of greater home and family responsibilities for male workers”. With more responsibility for women; work, housework and children, they are more prone to suffer from family/work spillover (or vice versa) leading to an increase in anxiety, stress level and depression (Guest, 2002). Furthermore, the spillover does not stop here, as Allan, Loudoun ; Peetz (2007) has commented that the negative spillover can influence other family members such as partner and children.
According to Anderson, Coffey ; Byerly (2002), it is predicted that FWA help reduce negative work-family spillover when employees have the flexibility to control their work schedules, also they are other findings that FWA can act as a supportive policy for promoting positive work/family spillover (Sok, Blomme ; Tromp, 2014). Example, given the flexibility on work time, an employee may accommodate the school timing to walk his/her child to school spending more quality time together while making use of the “work obligations” time; his/her travelling time to work.
Parker (1982) believes that in some situations, work is not distinguished from leisure and he introduces three different patterns linking them to different occupations. The patterns are extension (work spills into leisure), opposition (leisure as therapy) and neutrality (work and leisure are separated).
Watson (2017), Snapshot 10.9 illustrate the three relationships between work and leisure. Heidi, a university lecturer, instead of enjoying her leisure time reading in the library, has connected and related her leisure to work wanting to share the poems to her lecture on Monday, and on Sunday, she wants to attend a reading group which will keep her away from a family gathering constructing a negative work/family spillover. As such, Heidi’s case has seen to conform to Parker’s (1982) extension pattern, where it is explained that this pattern correlate with jobs that have a high level of autonomy and satisfaction, and it associates with people having leisure activities as an extension of their work as they do not separate between work and leisure.
Organisation context; workplace policies, culture and job structure
As there is an increase of families facing work/family or family/work spillover, organisation need to adopt FWA to help managers address the issue as well as improving their policy on family leaves and medical leave in the event of such leave is necessary for employees to take care of their dependents (Cho, ; Tay, 2016). But by successfully carrying out the policy, managerial and organisational culture support is essential otherwise it will fail to address meeting the needs of employees (Kossek, Noe ; DeMarr, 1999; Md-Sidin, Sambasivan ; Ismail, 2010).
Considering the positive aspect which FWA can bring, sadly not all occupation can be arranged for FWA as some jobs are structured in a way that face to face activity is necessary, such jobs include social workers, police officer and nurse etc. Example, the job of a nurse requires her to take care of patients where is not made possible if she is not physical presence in the workplace. So, it can be suggested that jobs who need physical appearance in the workplace fits well into Parker’s (1982) opposition pattern because as once the nurse leave her workplace, work and leisure are separated in a distinct way and are no longer related entirely as she no longer has “access” to her work, thus all the after office hour is her non-work or leisure time reducing the possibility of work/family spillover.
However, another point to note for such occupation is that because they are of non-standard work schedule; the need to provide service to others even during their off-duty hours, or that it may be due to the structure of their job on shift work. There are findings that men who work late shift have a decline in their marital satisfaction, whereas women marriages are also affected mainly because they are unable to fulfil their responsibilities at work and non-work causing work/family negative spillover (Maume & Sebastian, 2012; Costa, 1996). However, there are other findings that shift work has not caused any work/family spillover, as such it may be explained that positive and negative spillover is associated with individuals’ well-being (Cho, ; Tay, 2016), and may associate with one’s capability and perspective on how they view the situation.
As in neutrality, Porter (1983) suggests that work and non-work do not have interference with one another, but it is not deliberate for the separation. He also states that under neutrality pattern, employees link work to receive monetary benefits while leisure is for self-satisfaction. Example of this pattern are accountants or administrators. As these occupations mainly uses a computer to perform most work, thus it is feasible to apply FWA on being able to work from home or at flexible work hours. Because of its’ neutrality concept, work/family or family/work may even be more easily crossing each domain. The scenario can be during FWA, the workload is heavy, people tend to over-work hence resulting work/family spillover, and when the workload is little, they become bored and start looking for leisure like watching TV, play with their children or even do house chores and neglect work. Though the spillover may seem to be negative to the organisation on family/work spillover, to individuals, it may seem to be more on a positive work/family spillover.
Critiques – Parker’s (1983) work-leisure relationship
Although Parker’s work is being widely recognised, nevertheless, he has received criticism as Griffin et al. (1982, cited in Wearing, 2010, p.5) criticised that Parker has neglected women’s’ life experience in his theory, while Fulcher ; Scott (2011) has argued that the Parker has not taken housework into consideration as working women may only be able to enjoy leisure after they finish their housework.
Due to the restructuring and economic change in recent decades, there are more women entering into the workforce and increase in dual-earner families, hence increasing the workload especially for women who need to balance between their work and non-work life.
Many organisations have identified the need for employees to strike a balance between work and non-work and has thus introduced FWA. Parker (1983) has analysed how people spend their time and has classified them into five categories; work, work obligations, physiological needs, non-work obligations and leisure, and under leisure, he has also suggested three patterns in the work-leisure relationship; extension, opposition and neutrality
The work/family and family/work spillover are analysed based on two contexts, demographic and organisation context and it is concluded that the view on positive or negative spillover is associated with individuals’ well-being, capabilities and perspective.