Work-family conflict & quality of work life among veterinary doctors.

AuthorSingh Kang, Lakhwinder


Today's educated workforce expects more than just pay from their work. The dynamic work environment demands equal importance to both technology and human needs, where the individual perspective play a key role in humanization of work atmosphere and democratization of work relations. Such a holistic approach can contribute to high employee perception of "Quality of Working Life" in an organization (Anbarasan & Mehta, 2009). The term quality of work life (QWL) can be conceptualized as a subset of the quality of life as both are closely related to each other. Work life is an integral part of total life space (Lawler, 1982). The term QWL has been defined by various scholars and management practitioners but did not find a common definition. Serey's (2006) work on quality of work life is quite conclusive and best meets the contemporary work environment. The definition has been related to a meaningful and satisfying work. It includes: (i) an opportunity to exercise one's talent, capacities and face challenges/situations that require independent initiative and self-direction; (ii) an activity thought to be worthwhile by the individuals involved; (iii) an activity in which one understands the role the individual can play in the achievement of the overall goals; and (iv) a sense of taking pride in what one is doing and in doing it well. This issue of meaningful and satisfying work has been merged with the discussions on job satisfaction, and believed to be more favorable to quality of work life. QWL depends not only on work place factors but also on quality of non-work life and employee specific attitudes developed over a period of time. These variables enhance the human input at work place and ultimately raise the QWL. A perfect QWL in fact promotes the employee well-being and thereby the well-being of the organization. The present study analyzes the effect of work family conflict on QWL on account of fluctuating work environment with competing job and family commitments.

Work-Family Conflict & QWL

Ideological, political, economic and social developments have led to changes in the structure of the labor market and the industrial landscape more generally over the last few decades. In turn these changes have resulted in reforms at the workplace that have long since raised concerns amongst individuals, families and researchers (Allan et al., 2005). The increase in the occurrence and importance of work-family issues mirror the changes witnessed in both family structures and the nature of work in most of the developed world (Watson, Buchanan, Cambell & Briggs, 2003). Family is indeed an important supporter for everyone and probably the family support is able to provide motivation and strength to employees to perform better (Azril, 2010). But if someone fails to devote adequate time and attention to one's family, may lead to work-family conflict. Greenhaus & Beutell's (1985) defined work-family conflict as "a form of inter-role conflict in which the role pressures from work and family domains are mutually incompatible in some respect". This conceptual framework has been consistently used by many researchers to study work-family conflict (Gutek, Searle & Klepa, 1991; Frone et al, 1992; Huang, Hammer, Neal & Perrin, 2004) and the same has been used in the present study.

Conflict between work and family is bi-directional. Role pressures from work and family can occur simultaneously in both the directions. That is, excessive role demands from the work domain (e.g., hours worked, inflexible work schedules, etc.), can result in work-to-family (W-F) conflict. Similarly, excessive role demands from the family domain (e.g., childcare duties, domestic chores, etc.) can result in family-to-work (F-W) conflict. Therefore, it is the combined effect of W-F and F-W conflict that ultimately results in the overall level of work-family conflict experienced by an individual (Greenhaus & Beutell, 1985; Netemeyer et al., 1996; Gutek et al, 1991).

Review of Literature

In early 1960s, researchers had begun to study and connect the dots between work and family. Numerous studies on work life thereafter proved that what happened in the workplace have significant impact on individuals and their families (Lewis & Cooper, 1987; Kossek & Ozeki, 1998; Greenhaus & Powell, 2006). Sirgy et al. (2001) analyzed the predictive effect of QWL on satisfaction in non-work life domains, like leisure, family, financial, health, education, friendship, neighborhood, community, spiritual, environment, housing, cultural and social status, because satisfaction from one life domain tends to spill over to other life domains. QWL contributed significantly to the satisfaction/dissatisfaction in other life domains, such as family, leisure, health and so on.

Littlefield (2004) assessed the perception of 278 members of dual career families from 14 organizations related to healthcare, education, banking, insurance, tourism and manufacturing industries in Northern Michigan. The purpose was to examine how supportive members of dual-career families perceive 18 practices in alleviating work-life conflict. The study suggested that the members of dual career families perceive health insurance and dental insurance as most supportive in alleviating work life conflict. It was found that increased satisfaction with QWL programs that helped members balance the stress of work-life conflict, may increase productivity, employee morale and overall corporate productivity. Mott et al. (2004) attempted to identify the variables influencing work life of 1737 actively practicing pharmacists in the United States. The results revealed that 48 percent of practicing pharmacists experienced work-home conflict leading to poor quality of work life. Beh (2006) examined career related dimensions which were; career satisfaction (9 items), career achievement (13 items) and career balance (15 items). The sample consists of 475 managers from the free trade zones in Malaysia. All these dimensions were found to be significant and further concluded that balance between work and family deemed to be a very good indicator to predict QWL in relation to career related dimensions.

Che Rose et al. (2006) concluded from the data of 475 executives from the electronic and electrical industry in Malaysia that in addition to career satisfaction and career achievement, career balance (individuals' family life) correlates significantly with his/her level of quality of work life. This further suggested that a successful family life carries over into one's career and makes one more satisfied with personal achievements. Khani et al. (2007) explored how a sample of 200 nurses in an Iranian state rate the quality of work life. One of the four sub scales used in quality of work life tool was work life/home life. The findings from the study were consistent with the findings from a previous study on the acute care nurses by Brooks & Anderson (2004) in a mid western state. Respondents had little energy left after work, were unable to balance their work and family lives and stated that rotating schedules negatively affected their lives. Moreover 76 percent of them were unable to balance their work and family lives. Sale & Smoke (2007) attempted to assess the QWL of four employee groups (physicians, nurses, physicists, radiation therapists) by identifying the problem areas in the cancer centre. These problem areas were articulated as four domains that could be measured with existing work place tools; burnout, social support, job satisfaction and work family conflict. QWL scores were moderate in two years in consideration but there were considerable variation amongst four employee groups.

Saraji &Dargahi (2006) considered balance between work and family life as one of the dimensions to measure the positive and negative attitudes from QWL of 908 hospital employees in Iran. It was found that 82 percent of the workers expressed dissatisfaction with the balance between the time they spent working and the time they spent with...

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