Why juggling family and career pays off

Published: 23 April 2015 at 14:05

Anglia Ruskin academic’s study shows that domestic involvement enriches working life.

Successfully juggling family life and a career tends to be more rewarding for women than men, according to a new academic study – although that’s mainly because men take a more passive role in the home.

The research, authored by Dr Marina Boz of Anglia Ruskin University along with Dr Ines Martinez Corts and Dr Lourdes Munduate from the University of Seville, is published in the journal Sex Roles. 

It studied working men and women in Spain, and compared how participation at home hindered as well as enhanced participation at work, and its impact on subjective health.

The researchers measured how involvement in the family hindered participation at work (family-to-work conflict) by asking volunteers to rate statements such as “the time I spend on family responsibilities often interfere with my work responsibilities” and “tension and anxiety from my family life often weakens my ability to do my job” on a 1-5 scale.

How participation in the family enhanced participation at work (family-to-work enrichment) was measured in the same way by rating statements such as “my involvement in my family makes me feel happy and this helps me be a better worker”.

The study found that higher participation in the family among both sexes translates into more enriched experiences that positively affect their work and health. 

Women experienced significantly greater family-to-work enrichment (3.67/5 compared to 3.47/5) and only slightly higher family-to-work conflict than men (1.77 out of 5 compared to 1.69 out of 5).

Spanish men’s experiences of combining work and family were also beneficial, although to a lesser extent, because they tend to adopt a more passive role in the family home.

Dr Boz, Senior Lecturer in Human Resource Management at Anglia Ruskin University, said:

“The fact that higher participation in the family is beneficial for both women and men debunks the widespread assumption that family responsibilities mainly interfere with work, and that women are the ones most negatively affected by it.

“Combining work and family roles has shown to provide benefits such as development of skills, self-fulfilment and efficiency."

“The fact that more women than men perceive that their family experiences enrich their working lives underlines the potential benefits that employers may gain from supporting female employees with family responsibilities."

“Also by encouraging men to increase participation at home and allow for positive experiences with their family to influence their work, such as through more flexible working hours and more balanced workloads, organisations could benefit by having happier and more satisfied male employees.”