Employees’ experiences of work-life balance
Abstract: In recent years, the interest in work-life balance within organizations has increased to a great extent due to the high technology development such as smartphones, laptops, tablets etc. The existing high technology work equipment has generated a possibility for employees to be more available and work more if needed and expected by the employer. The extended availability has caused a lot of employees to increase their working time, which in turn has induced increased stress and pressure (Yarnall, 2008, 121). The consequences have led to that the dichotomy work-life and private life adopts more blurred borders and often develops into a situation like the ”role-overload” (Allvin et al., 2013, 107) and a conflict between these two life spheres becomes a fact. Nowadays, several Swedish organizations have work-life balance practices for their employees. Some of these practices are regulated under Swedish legislation, for instance parental leave and the possibility for parents with small children to work part-time. This study investigates the employees’ actual experiences of work-life balance practices and how these practices affect the employees and indirectly the employer. There is a general assumption that organizations that offer different work-life balance practices do so to attract and keep employees, which is the reason why such practices are being viewed as a positive measure (Doherty, 2004, 447). This study investigates if and in what way there are positive and/or negative experiences or consequences of work-life balance practices for the employees, which in turn also could be affecting the employers. The study is qualitative and empirical. Eight Swedish officials employed in different Swedish organizations (one informant works for an American organization) have been interviewed. The theoretical models that have been used to specify and define the research method are “The Career Active System Triad, CAST” (Baruch, 2004, 100) and “The pros and cons of alternative work arrangements” (B.H. Gottlieb, E.K. Kelloway and E. Barham 1998) and to explain the result “The role expansion theory” (Nordenmark, 2004, 47). This study reveals the informants’ reality and experiences, which shows how society through companies and organizations (mezzo level) forms and guides the individuals (micro level) to act in certain ways. This phenomenon illustrates how society generates a “collective conscience” (Durkheim in Andersen & Kaspersen, 2007, 64). This study shows that organizations and societies implicitly through legislation, rules, practices and policies generate “value rational social action” (Weber in Andersen & Kaspersen, 2007, 74-75) among the individuals, which make them act in a certain way in accordance with the value rational social action, whether or not it fits in their individual life at the moment. Nevertheless, the result also demonstrates the positive attitudes towards the work-life balance practices offered by organizations and society through legislation. These practices allow employees regardless of gender to make choices that enables them to have several roles in life, which has been verified in previous research to be beneficial for well-being and health in general.
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