The Balancing Act: At Work and at Home

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The Balancing Act – At Work and At Home
“Conflict between a person’s work responsibilities and family obligations can significantly impact all aspects of the individual’s life.”

A human being’s life is a complex web of interactions between three significant domains - the self, the family, and work. Balance is ideal, however, instances of chaos between the domains from time to time come about. When the latter happens, all aspects of an individual’s life as well as those around him get affected. Ineffective balance causes a person to loss interest, satisfaction and commitment at work or at home. Workers tend to become less committed to an organization when they are experiencing work-family conflict.1 Marital problems also begin to unfold. Research has shown that the amount of work-family conflict experienced by one partner directly affects the amount of work-family conflict experienced by the other partner.2 Also, health problems such us psychological distress, depression and even alcoholism may happen. The constant conflict between family – work responsibilities puts pressure to a person’s self domain. Family-work conflicts arise from three possible occasions. First, time-based conflict which usually is observed when the person spends most, if not all, of his time at work leaving no time for the family. This may also happen when the person is with his family but mentally pre-occupied with work. A second reason would be strain-based conflict. This refers to when a stressful situation occurs from either the family or work and is vented out on the one which has not caused the strenuous experience. This is where the second hand effect of stress transfers to co-employees or family members. A third type would be the behaviour-based conflict. This is when specific behaviours are required in one domain, perhaps at work. For example, a person working as an agent in a BPO has to be reactive and to the point. Having this personality at home is not necessarily called for especially if there are children who need understanding and patience. Stressors from the family, work and pressure to oneself is further amplified by several factors involved in an individual’s life. Alcohol, sleep disturbances, a lot of travelling or not being able to anchor oneself to his home, organizational culture such as being on call twenty four-seven, and the email paradox where work could be done are some possible amplifiers. How one balances these domains is then a question. The main concept to avoiding conflict is proper management between work, family and the self. A life management strategy – Selection, Optimization, and Compensation (SOC) which was suggested by Boris A. Baltes and Heather A. Heydens-Gahir speaks about how one should identify and set goals to have a clear direction on what things to exert energy in, after which acquire, refine and use necessary means to achieve the set goals, finally to wrap things up there should be acceptance for an extra hand with work load that may already be too much. Boundary management is another strategy in achieving order in a person’s life. According to Ellen Kossek and Raymond Noe,, this approach recognizes that individuals must play an active role in managing the “joint enactment” of both work and family roles.3 Union between family and work is possible when role demands and expectations are clearly defined and separated. In other words, it is doing things at the right time and at the right at his workplace and not bring paperwork of any sort at home. Of course, there should also be effort of balance coming from the family domain. Communication is an important tool to achieve balance. Explaining that work has been particularly stressful makes the family members aware of the person feels and that he needs patience and understanding during this particular time. Further, quality versus quantity is brought to the table. The duration of time a husband or wife spends with his children...
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