Work-life balancing and job performance of workers in private universities in South-Western Nigeria
The study was conducted in six purposively selected private universities across the six states of South-western Nigeria, using primary and secondary data. A sample size of 540 was derived from a total of 702 using stratified sampling technique. Questionnaires were administered to all the respondents to ferret information on work-life balance and performance of workers. Secondary data from institutional records were used to augment information gathered through the questionnaire. Data collected were analyzed using frequency cross-tabulation, correlation and regression analysis.
Organizational policies such as the provision of crèche, staff school, staff club, recreational centres, staff canteen and annual family get together were identified as locally adopted practices by staff. The study found that the existence of these organizational policies and practices is positively correlated with available variation of such policies and practices (r=0.859; p>0.01), use or adoption of such policies and practices (r=0.898; p>0.01) and the perception of a balanced work and life interaction (r=0.184; p>0.01). Personal perception of a balanced work-life is also positively and significantly correlated with all the other factors; availability of variations (r=0.144; p>0.01) and adoption of these policies and practices (r=0.166; p>0.01). A fairly low Durbin-Watson score of 1.366 indicates that the availability of any other Work-Life balancing factor, such as flexible working, could dramatically affect the outcome of the study. It also confirmed the hypothesis that there is no relationship between adoption of work-life balance policies or practices and performance.
Summarily, there is the need for the expansion of work-life balancing practices to include such practices as flexible working, tele-working, job-sharing, paternity leave, multiple tranches maternity leave and the simpler breast feeding break and that undergraduate HRM curriculum should include work-life balancing concepts to expand the scope of enquiries into their features and evolutions.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Table of Contents
List of Figures
List of Tables
CHAPTER ONE – INTRODUCTION
1.1 Background to the Study
1.2 Statement of the Problem
1.3 Objectives of the Study
1.4 Research Hypotheses
1.5 Justification for the Study
1.6 Scope and Limitation of the Study
1.7 Operational Definition of Terms
CHAPTER TWO – LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1 Concepts of Work
2.2 Concepts of Life
2.3 Work – Life Conflict
2.4 Work – Life Balance
2.4.1 Work-life Balance, Ethics and Social Responsibility
2.4.2 Work-life Balance, Performance and ICT
2.5 Empirical Evidences from other countries
2.5.1 Work-Life Balance Policy Foundation
2.5.2 Evidences from Nigeria
2.6 Motivational Background to Work-life Balance
2.6.1 Theories of work-life Balance
2.7 Theoretical Framework
2.8 Conceptual Framework for analysis
CHAPTER THREE – METHODOLOGY OF RESEARCH
3.1 Study Area
3.2 Research Design
3.3 Sample Size and Sampling Procedure
3.4 Sources and Collection of Data
3.5 Research Instruments
3.6 Measurement of Variables
3.7 Data Analysis Techniques
CHAPTER FOUR – DATA PRESENTATION, ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION
4.1 Socio- economic information
4.2 Work Interference with Personal Life (WIPL)
4.3 Personal Life interference with Work (PLIW)
4.4 Work and Personal Life Enhancement
4.5 Organizational Policies and Practices Helping To Balance Work and Life Roles
4.6 Factors Influencing the Adoption of Work-Life Balancing Policies and Practices
4.7 Relationship between Work-Life Balancing and Job Performance
4.8 Hypothesis Testing
CHAPTER FIVE – SUMMARY, RECOMMENDATION AND CONCLUSION
5.3 Recommendation s
i. List of Registered Private Universities in Nigeria (2009)
ii. Questionnaire on Work-Life Balance and Performance
iii. Table of correlations
iv. Personal Rating of Job Performance (Table A)
v. Personal Rating of Job Performance (Table B)
LIST OF FIGURES
1. Figure 2.1 – Schematic Diagram of theoretical framework
2. Figure 2.2 – model of causal pathways
3. Figure 2.3 – Conceptual Framework
4. Figure 3.1 – Map of South-Western Nigeria
5. Figure 4.1 – Number of Children/Marital Status
6. Figure 4.2 – Relationship between Work-Life Balance and Job
7. Figure 4.3 – Relationship between Working in Transit and Job
8. Figure 4.4 – Relationship between Taking Work Home and Job
9. Figure 4.5 – Adoption of Work-Life Balancing Policies and Practices
on Job Performance
LIST OF TABLES
Table 3.1: Categorization of Private Universities in the South-West
Table 3.2: Study Sample Size
Table 4.1: Socio-Economic Distribution of respondents
Table 4.2 Age of Respondents / Gender cross-tabulation
Table 4.3: Distribution by Gender and work
Table 4.4: Distribution by Cadre and work
Table 4.5: Number of Children / Marital Status Cross-tabulation
Table 4.6: Work –To–Life Interference (WIPL) - Descriptive Statistics
Table 4.7: Life – To – Work Interference (PLIW) - Descriptive Statistics
Table 4.8: Available policies/practices for balancing work and personal life
Table 4.9: Gender and Availability of Policies & Practices
Table 4.10: Model Summary: Available Policies & Programmes
Table 4.11: ANOVA
Table 4.12: Analysis of Adoption
Table 4.13: Factors Influencing the Adoption of Work-Life Balancing
Policies and Practices
Table 4.14: Model Summary: Performance Perception
Table 4.15: Model Summary: Performance Perception (ANOVA)
CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION
1.1 Background to the Study
The world of work has changed from the 9-to-5 affair to a 24-hour, 7-day society, where customers expect services at times that suit them (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, 2007). This may be adduced to the ever expanding potentialities of Information and Communication technology (ICT). The wide deployment of computers, software and recently, the pervasive use of the Global System Mobile (GSM) telecommunication in Nigeria are helping to increase efficiency and reduce transaction cost across all segments of the economy (Onyukwu, 2007).
On the global plain, it has been pointed out that one out of every five managerial and professional workers in the United Kingdom for instance, take work home almost everyday as a result of technological advancement which has enabled many workers to be continuously accessible (CIPD, 2007). This expansion in accessibility may not take into cognizance the demand on the employee by other non-work commitments, such as child care, dependent elder-care or even other social obligations that may require some time off work, the lack of which may affect motivation and ultimately, job performance. This leads to what work-life conflict.
Work-life conflict occurs when the cumulative demands of work and non-work life roles are incompatible in some respect so that participation in one role is made more difficult by participation in the other role (Duxbury and Higgins, 2001). This has also contributed, considerably, to the incidence of work related stress which happens to be a common cause of absenteeism (Torrington, Hall and Taylor, 2002). Stress, as highlighted by Torrington, Hall and Taylor (2002), is a major element of work-life conflict and it is as a result of unfavourable working conditions such as heavy work loads, job insecurity and lack of participation in decision making, health and safety hazards and tight deadlines among others. To address this problem, the quality of work-life, which is generally believed to have declined partly through over-work, as a result of the prevalence of factors of ICT and partly through fear of losing employment (Torrington, Hall and Taylor, 2002) became a major point of study in Human Resource Management and this has come to be known as work-life balancing by experts and practitioners in the field. Clutterbuck (2003), as quoted in CIPD (2007), defined work life balancing as consisting of the following:
- Being aware of different demands on time and energy
- Having the ability to make choices in the allocation of time and energy
- Knowing what values to apply to choices
- Making choices
The principle at stake here is that work should be healthy and should allow free time and energy to pursue interests outside work (Kodz, Harper and Dench, 2002). Such “interests outside work” include extended personal responsibilities as child or elder care and the need to fulfill certain societal obligations, travelling, studying or even engaging in leisure activities.
Gradually, work-life balancing is becoming a global phenomenon that would eventually affect the shape and depth of interactions at the work place, especially with regards to the determination of the fruitful use of work time and time off work. It is very possible that in the not so distant future, assimilation of cultural attributes and attitudes across the globe would eventually lead to a universally applicable platform for the determination of labour – management relationship, where what rights or duties are obtainable in one country or place will be equally obtainable anywhere else on the surface of the Earth.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Individuals play multiple roles in their lives. An employee can be a father, husband, brother, uncle, nephew, son and in-law at home, while he could also be a boss, employee, subordinate, professional peer and employer at work. Within his immediate society, he is a neighbor, community leader and/or a leader or member of a social club among others. All these roles have significant influence on the personality of the employee and whether collectively or individually, they all have serious implications for his health, temperament at home and work and ultimately on his overall performance in both spheres. These divergent role demands however could be broadly categorized into two: work roles and personal-life roles. Eventually, the two categories of roles exert pressure on the individual as each role imposes demands that require time, energy and commitment to fulfill. Where the cumulative demands of these work and non-work roles become incompatible, that is, when participation in one role is made more difficult by participating in the other role, work-life conflict sets in.
Work – life conflicts occur when the cumulative demands of work and non-work life roles are incompatible in some respect so that participation in one role is made more difficult by participation in the other role (Duxbury and Higgins, 2001). Work-life conflicts erode the mental and physical well-being of workers; affects the quality of their personal relationship outside of work, and increases costs to businesses (Duxbury and Higgins, 2001). A particular important element of work-life conflict is work related stress. Working conditions such as heavy workloads, lack of participation in decision making, health and safety hazards, job insecurity, and tight deadlines are associated with work-related stress (Todd, 2004). Work stress seriously affect employees' performances, leading to a decrease in their productivity, and increasing the number of days missed from work as well as increasing absenteeism.
Also rigidity in the working hours, especially, leads to all kinds of problems (Fine-Davis, Mccarthy, O’dwyer, Edge and O’sullivan, 2005). Though working long hours can lead to stress or mental ill-health (White and Beswick, 2003), findings have shown that this is more aggravated where the worker has other responsibilities beyond work (Kodz, Harper and Dench, 2002). Responsibilities beyond work naturally include such non work commitments as child care, elder care and, in certain respect, social commitments requiring time and energy of the individual.
In Nigeria for instance, the strict adherence to an 8 to 5 work schedule have been identified as the cause of secondary manifestations of work-life conflict such as increasing medical problems such as diabetes, hypertension, aches and pains; increasing psychological or attitudinal problems; absenteeism; lateness; interpersonal problems; comportment – language and dress ( David, 2009). All these negative manifestations of work-life conflict have direct impact on the performance and productivity of the individual. Reducing these negative effects should therefore be of paramount importance to any organization.
Nigerian management practitioners would have to start taking serious look at the applicability of this growing trend in their domain, if they want to remain relevant in the appealing process of internationalization of management practices, which happens to be one of the fallout of the globalization process. Competition is becoming stiffer in the need for the attraction and retention of prime human resource.
To most conventional organizations, however, assisting the employee to balance competing work and non-work demands is not considered as the responsibility of the organization but that of the employee concerned. To such organizations, the most important thing, and in fact the only important issue, is increasing corporate profitability and/or achieving the set objectives for which the organization was set up through increased performance. The employee is thus left to ponder on how to balance demands from the home front with that of the work. In certain cases, employees do not understand the organization’s policies that tend to aid balancing work and personal life nor is it sufficiently clear if there is any legal support to assist them in understanding their rights in this regard.
In the service sector, especially in the educational sub-sector at the university level, balancing work and personal life roles had been considered crucial to institutional stability and growth (Alutu and Ogbe, 2007). Certain policies and programs of some old generation universities, for instance, such as the establishment of staff schools and staff quarters, may be considered as aids to balancing work and personal role demands. These ancillary provisions assist staff in addressing certain role demands and responsibilities as parents and spouses. It is however instructive to note that provision of such enabling environment cost a lot of money; which many private universities in Nigeria may not be able to afford. Nevertheless, some of these new universities have also devised other means of assisting employees in this regard through the establishment of situation specific policies and programmes such as time off work for breast feeding and allowance for time off work to attend to a family matters.
Arising from the above discussions therefore, it is necessary to assess employees’ awareness and acceptability of work-life balancing policies and programs available in their organizations and to determine the extent to which they utilize provisions under such policies or programs. Furthermore, it is imperative to determine how work and family role demands, given the availability or non-availability of organizational policy support, impact employees’ performance at work.
Consequently, the following research questions were addressed by this study:
What organizational policies and programs help workers in maintaining balance between work and personal life demands?
What factors influence the utilization of work-life balancing programs by non-academic staff of private universities?
To what extent does the interaction of work roles and life roles influence the use of work-life balance programs?
Is there any significant relationship between work-life balance and job performance in the Nigerian educational sector?
1.3 Objectives of the study
The broad objective of this study is to gain an understanding of the range of ways by which non-academic staff of private universities in Nigeria achieve work-life balance. The specific objectives however are to:
i) identify the existing organizational policies and practices helping to balance work and life roles among workers in South-western Nigeria;
ii) examine the factors that inhibit or enhance the adoption of work-life balancing policies and practices; and
iii) investigate the relationship between work-life balance and job performance of workers
1.4 Hypothesis of the Study
The following research hypothesis was tested:
1. Ho– there is no significant relationship between the adoption of work-life balance policies among employees and their work performance.
1.5 Justification for the Study
Much has been written on different aspects of human resource management practice in Nigeria but little empirical work has been done in respect of work-life balancing and work-life conflict. It is within this context that this study is considered significant to the body of available literature on the subject. It is also hoped that this study will form part of the foundational framework for a comparative analysis of work-life balance practices across professions, and national economies, whether developed or developing.
This study provides a platform for organizations operating within the Nigerian business environment to increase the level of the productivity of their workforce and build upon this to create and maintain a positive public image of the firm or institution as a socially responsible organization and a relevant player in the increasingly globalization of Labour-Management relations.
It also opened a new vista of trends that would begin to influence the working life of the average Nigerian worker and the attitudes of employers of labour in the educational sector through the possibilities of understanding the role of certain factors such as culture and religion, in the determination of effective implementation of work-life balance programmes. This study provides a basis for influencing public policy on how to reduce work-life conflict. So far, the only mention of anything related to this in Nigeria’s labour legislation is a brief mention of the regulation guiding working hours of employees in Section 13 of the Labour Act of 1974. Till date, no comparative regulation exists in Nigeria to compare to the Working Time Regulations (WTR) implemented by the European Union in 1998, which among other things stipulated the maximum number of hours to be worked as well as a comprehensive recommendation for time off work to take care of personal needs and family matters.
1.6 Scope and Limitation of the Study
This study looked at the effect of certain organizational policies on the balance of work and personal lives of workers in the Nigerian economy, with special attention to non-academic staff of private universities in the South-west. The choice of private universities is predicated on the fact that they were basically established for the profit motive. Unlike the public universities that generally run on government subventions and grants, the private universities have to be innovative in sourcing for funds and generally, in managing their affairs. Attraction and retention of core human competence is a very vital part of this management of resources as the new universities face the challenge of not only competing with the public institutions in a market grossly driven by goodwill but also meeting up with the minimum benchmark of the National Universities Commission. This gives little consideration for the fact that the public universities have the double advantage of government support and longevity of existence in the market for both students and staff.
The South-Western region, comprising Ekiti, Lagos Ogun, Ondo, Osun, and Oyo states, is home to 19 of the 45 licensed private universities in the country (NUC, 2011), approximately 42% of all private universities in the country. It is for this particular reason that this study intends to cover private universities in this region. The choice of the educational sector was also made for the main reason that this study is of a groundbreaking nature, intended to discover the extent of the coverage of work-life balancing in the country at this initial stage in order to enable further studies in this area.
For the purpose of this study therefore, six private universities spread across the region were used as case studies. The aim was to gain insight into the uniqueness of human resource management practices in these universities, across the states and for the purpose of comparative analysis of work-life programmes and practices in future studies.
The following six privately owned universities were chosen as case studies: Bishop Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo; Fountain University, Osogbo; Crescent University, Abeokuta; Bells University, Ota; Redeemers University, Mowe and Bowen University, Iwo. These represent Oyo, Ogun, Osun and Lagos states given a variety of backgrounds from semi-rural to urban settings. These universities were all established between 2001 and 2007.- to methodology
The main challenge faced by this research work is that of paucity of local oriented literature on the topic as the concept is relatively new in Nigeria. However, e-copies of books and journals were extensively consulted in addition to various recent and upcoming internet based findings on websites of agencies and research bodies from countries such as New Zealand, Canada and others who have advanced work-life balancing programmes and policies.
1.7 Operational Definition of Terms
The following terms are hereunder defined as they were used in this research work.
Burnout – a feeling of lack of mental and physical energy due to over exertion at work or in the course of carrying out personal life demands such as child care.
Flexi-work – Flexible working conditions allowing for attendance to personal affairs or family matters outside work.
Flexi-time – Flexible working time where a worker could compress time of work to certain days in order to gain free time off work in other days.
Flexi-pay – Flexible earning method associated with job sharing, flexi-work and flexi-time.
Job performance – the act of doing or carrying out a given task within the institution successfully within stipulated time aimed at meeting with set targets
Job sharing – The practice of sharing job responsibilities between workers one of whom may be a part-time worker.
Life – Life as used in this study indicates the non-work roles played by the respondents and this covers all activities directed towards satisfying personal or family interests. It also covers any non-paid activities or commitments such as social work for example membership of landlords associations, positions in parent/teachers associations and chieftaincy commitments.
Stress – a state of mental or emotional strain or suspense; to be worried or be under emotional tension
Tele-work – The use of modern day gadgets to work from anywhere. For instance working from home or while on the move such as when traveling.
Work – The occupation for which you are paid; exerting oneself by doing mental or physical work for a purpose or out of necessity (earning wages for survival among others); proceeding towards a goal or along a path or through an activity with the aim of earning a pay for sustenance.
Work – life balance – The act of achieving a balance between the two competing demands of work and personal life.
Work – life benefits – Benefits accruable to a balanced work-life relationship such as less stress, good health etc
Work-life conflict – This means the competing demands of work and personal life outside work on the worker.
Work/family – competing demands between work and family specific roles
CHAPTER TWO LITERATURE REVIEW
Available empirical studies on the issue of work-life conflict and balancing are mostly related to events in developed economies. In the case of Nigeria, however, very few articles have been specifically written on issues concerning the direct effects of the demand of work and the demands of other commitments outside work on the worker’s effectiveness in both spheres. Nevertheless, findings in the earlier mentioned countries may be found to be consistent with the situation of things in Nigeria, given the ever-growing globalization of skills and management practices. Therefore, in this chapter, literature related to the conceptual and theoretical foundations as well as empirical studies on work-life balancing are hereunder reviewed.
2.1 Concepts of Work
Work, according to Kuper and Kuper (1976) as quoted by Ogunbameru (2008) “refer to any physical and/or mental activities, which transform natural materials into a more useful form, improve human knowledge and understanding of the world, and/or provide or distribute goods to others. Work as defined by Edwards and Rothbard (2000) is “an instrument activity intended to provide goods and services to support life”. These definitions of work limit the concept to activities alone and to address this shortcoming, Ogunbameru (2008) stated that “the definition of work cannot be limited to references to activities alone, but must also consider the social context within which those activities are being carried out”. Work in this case is primarily viewed from one angle.
The primary reason why people work is made up of both Economic and non-Economic goals and perhaps, the most important non-Economic value people receive from work is a sense of useful achievement (Lynn and O’Grady, 1978). This stance was further supported by Edwards and Rothbard (2000) in their postulation that although work may provide intrinsic rewards its primary goal is extrinsic. The Economic reason for working, on the part of the employee, is to earn money for sustenance. This view contrasted with the notion that the most obvious reason for work is the Economic function of producing goods and services (Ogunbameru, 2008), which is the organizational view of work. In the first instance, the assumption is that work provides both intrinsic and extrinsic satisfaction which may not be limited to the work environment alone. On the other hand, work also supplies the social needs of man at the work place when people meet, converse and share experiences and the type of work a person is involved in bestows a certain level of social status on the worker and his family (Ogunbameru, 2008). Work, for the purpose of this study will be any paid activity aimed at producing goods or services while non-paying activities, whether in the course of producing goods and services or not, will fall under personal life activities.
Work plays a fundamental role in adulthood, significantly affecting self-concept and well-being. In this case, work could be expected to be a rewarding experience (Keith and Gubellini, 1975). Over the past twenty-five years, there has been a substantial increase in work which is felt to be due, in part, to information technology and by an intense, competitive work environment. Long-term loyalty and the "sense of corporate community" have been eroded by a performance culture that expects more and more from employees yet offers little security in return (Wikipedia, 2009). According to the wikipedia report, many experts believed that technology will eventually make household chores much easier and thus provide more room for leisure. However, the blossoming consumerist tendency of the generality of people and the demand for maintaining the productive and competitive growth of the economy which in part encouraged more work, led to the conversion of such free time to satisfying more work demand to the detriment of leisure and other demands outside work.
A 2002 study by Ezzedeen and Swiercz reveals that employees are often preoccupied with work when not working to such an extent that when they are in the company of family and loved ones, they experience an inability to be meaningfully engaged in non-work activities. The study further explains that "modern work has become knowledge based, fluid, and intellectual; overworked people think about work all of the time”. This feeling of work consciousness took on a psychological dimension aptly captured by the study as being “cognitively intrusive”. That is, the person is always thinking of work while he is supposed to be off work and concerned with other non-work activities.
Technology, such as the cell phone, internet and other emerging gadgets, were expected to help alleviate this pressure and provide several options for “control and creativity in maneuvering the tenuous balance between work and family" (Temple 2009). This however was not the case; rather than lessen the “work pressure”, the new technologies ensure that the worker is almost always available for work, thus, creating the need for maintaining a balance between the two spheres.
2.2 Concepts of Life
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Trust of New Zealand (2000) report, the term “life” applies to any non-paid activities or commitments such as social work; child care and so on, in essence, the term could be extended to cover unpaid work. Contextually, the relationship between work and life is that of complementary opposites. In this study therefore, “life” encompasses all activities outside paid, formal work and may include such activities as painting ones car or house; leisure gardening; babysitting ones baby and other directly beneficial effort requiring no compensation or emoluments.
2.3 Work – life Conflict
When people play multiple roles in different domains, it does not take much to propel the emotions and stress from one role to another (Greenhaus and Powell 2006). This leads to work-life conflict. Work-life conflict is “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 (or family) role is made more difficult by virtue of participation in the family (or work) role” (Greenhaus and Beutell, 1985).
Duxbury and Higgins (2001) identified three areas of conflict between these two overlapping domains of roles as:
- Role Overload (RO); which directly translates to having too much work to do and too little time to do it. For instance, in the life domain, a working mother may have multiple responsibilities to her baby to the extent of having a very little time to sleep at night while also contemplating going to work at day break. In this case there is an overload of role functions from the family-life sphere, which could result in increased stress.
- Family to Work (FTW) interference; where role interference from the family affects work negatively.
- Work to Family (WTF) interference; where role demands of work affects commitments to family demands
In the case of Role Overload (RO), there may be overload of roles in both spheres at the same time, thus creating a continuous role-pressure on the subject. This is a major cause of cross-role stress which is usually demonstrated by conflict in both domains. Wife battering and divorce on the one hand and absenteeism and poor performance on the other have been identified as manifestation of this state of affairs in the life and work domain respectively. Analyses of work-life conflicts are usually limited to work/family conflict at the expense of the wider scope of the “life” component. Family to work (FTW) and Work to Family (WTF) interference in Duxbury and Higgins (2001) work are only subsets of this view of work-life conflict. An excessive demand for role compliance from the family aspect leads to interference in the work roles. On the other hand, commitment to family demands may be affected by working long hours and eventually occupational burnout. However, the harmful effects of working long hours coupled with demands outside work could be mitigated when workers have certain amount of control over their work (Guest, 2002, White and Beswick, 2003). This view was supported by Akanni (1987) who opined that people are more effectively motivated when they are given some degree of freedom in the way they do their work.
2.4 Work – Life Balance
Work-life balance was first anticipated by Johnson and Packer (1987) in their description of future changes in the work force Economic and work environment from the year 2000 and beyond. Predicting a declining labour pool, extinction of certain skills and shortages of certain other skills, they termed the trend the new economy. The new nature of working life was succinctly captured by Flores and Gray (2000) who wrote of the death of the career and how lifelong identities are giving way to 'brief habits' such that, 'the lives of wired people are more like collections of short stories than the narrative of a bourgeois novel'. In effect, modern day worker works a day at a time symbolizing the unpredictability of modern working system and its hostility to the forming of lifelong working habits.
Among reasons adduced for these changes in the Economic of labour and the work environment include: the apparently sustained period of inflation free growth (Greenspan 1998); the increasing significance of knowledge and information technologies resulting in the globalization of labour skills (Castells 2000; Quah 1996 and 1999); the feminization of employment where special considerations are made with respect to the employment of women, and new less secure working patterns (Mishel, Bernstein and Schmitt 1999) which, in turn, have generated problems for the sustainability of families and communities (Beck 2000; Carnoy 2000; Hochschild 1997; Reich 2001) especially in the developed world and increasingly so in the developing economies. The shrinking number of skilled employees also led to competition among organizations as well as presenting such organizations with employees who have different set of priorities, and accordingly, new attitudes towards work and the role it should play in their lives (Duxbury, Dyke and Lam, 2000). This is more so as the new workforce had to contend with conflicting demands on their time, energy and commitment by work and personal or family life outside work. People have also become increasingly individualized in work and home life as traditional systems of social support through the company, state, family and community have been eroded (Beck 2000; Carnoy, 2000). Thus the individual is saddled with multiple roles in both spheres of his daily existence with little or no external support to cushion the negative effects of role conflicts and overload.
The African experience, where marriage and child birth are considered important milestones in life, is no better than what obtains in other regions of the world. Traditionally, African woman’s main roles in the family are to cater for the upbringing of the children and to assist the husband in maintaining the Economic balance in the house through supportive labour on the farm or in some other petty trades. With enlightenment and education, more women are finding their niches in traditionally male dominated paid jobs, and in some instances, time consuming entrepreneurial businesses, thus expanding the scope of the relative earnings to the family but to the detriment of their traditional roles as the main family support and maintenance agents. This increases roles demand on them creating the need for developing a balancing mechanism to avoid or reduce the incidence of work-life conflict.
Balance between work and personal life was defined by the Irish National Framework Committee for Work-life Balance Policy as “a balance between an individual’s work and their life outside work”. The point here is that the worker has certain control over his working time. Working time means any period during which the individual is working, is at the employer’s disposal and is carrying out activities or duties assigned to him by the employer (CIPD, 2007). Working time is however not limited simply to the hours of 8 – 5 that one is officially expected to work, but includes the time spent commuting between work and home (David, 2009). Work-life balance is achieved when an individual’s right to a fulfilled life inside and outside paid work is accepted and respected as the norm, to the mutual benefit of the individual, business and society (The Work Foundation, 2005).
On the contrary, Nicholl (2007) sees the concept of work-life balance as only a ploy to elevate an issue that is very naturally part of our everyday lives. According to him, what is happening is a transformation from the usual business centered work ethics; employees are now opting for what he called life ethics. In the same light, Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, declared at the Society for Human Resource Management conference held in New Orleans in August 2009, that “There’s no such thing as work-life balance. There are work-life choices, and you make them, and they have consequences.” His declaration was probably based on the assumption by Human Resource practitioners that work and family should be separated and that there should somehow be an equal division between the two, which is implied in the word “balance.”
This draws from the fact that until the advent of industrialization there was no distinction between work and what constitute life. As claimed by (Wheeler, 2009) “There was no work-life balance in the 17th, 18th, 19th, or for most of the 20th centuries. Work and life were integrated and no one would have even thought to separate out what portion of farm life, for example, was ‘life’ and what portion was ‘work’. Wives and husbands and children worked together as family units, producing food, clothing, or operating a small family business. Roles were assumed and cast off as needed and whoever had the ability or skill needed at a particular time did what was needed to be done”. In most parts of Africa and other developing regions of the world, this is still the case. Wheeler (2009) further surmised that “it is only in the developed nations that these artificial distinctions arose to meet the needs of factories where everyone had to be in a physical place for certain time frames in order for things to be made”. He concluded that “it took England and the United States decades to get people accustomed to going to work at a particular time and staying for a fixed amount of time. The way we work today has never been an organic or natural way, and our fixation recently on work-life balance is only the latest manifestation of an old issue”. The problem of role differentiation, and, hence the need for balancing work and personal life, was further qualified as a problem of a post industrial “affluent society”, characteristic of the developed West