Work Life Balance

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Bell, Rajendran & Theiler: Job stress, wellbeing and work-life balance of academics.

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Job Stress, Wellbeing, Work-Life Balance and Work-Life Conflict Among Australian Academics Amanda S. Bell (amanda.bell@monash.edu)
Faculty of Education, Monash University, Building 6, Clayton Campus, Wellington Road, Clayton 3168, Australia

Diana Rajendran (drajendran@swin.edu.au)
Faculty of Higher Education, Swinburne University of Technology, Melba Avenue, Lilydale 3140, Australia

Stephen Theiler (stheiler@swin.edu.au)
Faculty of Higher Education, Swinburne University of Technology, Melba Avenue, Lilydale 3140, Australia

Abstract
Escalating stress and pressures, along with organisational change in universities has led to the increased importance of research in to the impact of perceived job stress, work-life balance and work-life conflict amongst academics. Yet, very few studies have examined academics’ ability to balance work and personal life, and overcome work-life conflict. Drawing on Spillover theory (Zedeck, 1992), our study hypothesised that high levels of perceived job pressure stress and job threat stress would predict increased levels of work-life conflict, and decreased levels of work-life balance. Due to the well-documented relationship between stress and health, the influence of job stress on wellbeing was also investigated in this sample of academics (N =139). Perceived job stress (threat and pressure-type stressors) was associated with poorer work-life balance, and increased conflict between academics’ work and personal lives. Perceived job threat-type stress made a stronger contribution and was a significant predictor of work-life balance and work-life conflict scores, than perceived job pressure-type stress. Perceived job threattype stress among academics was also a significant predictor and associated with poorer wellbeing and increased ill-being, but perceived job pressure-type stress was not related to academics’ wellbeing or ill-being. Keywords: Work-Life Balance; Work-Life Conflict; Job Stress; Academics; Wellbeing.

Introduction
The reality of working life today is that employees are constantly trying to juggle their work and personal lives. In their struggle to balance both, it is often the influence or the interference of one on the other that leads to positive or negative ‘spillover’. Mauno et al. (2006, p. 210) posit that “work- family conflict is unavoidable in modern Western life”. One possible explanation for increasing work-life problems for

employees and organisations around the world is ever increasing job stress. Many organisations today are facing the pressure of market-driven globalisation and an unwavering demand for growth and efficiency (Mauno, et al., 2006). As a result of the increased need for employee work-life balance initiatives, work-life balance and work-life conflict have been increasingly studied in the last two decades. Work-related stress has been identified as one of the largest problems in the European Union working environment (Skakon, Nielsen, Borg, & Guzman, 2010). Job stress has been widely linked with adverse effects on employees’ psychological and physical wellbeing in many occupations, including academics (Kinman & Jones, 2003). Job stress therefore represents a large emotional cost to employee wellbeing and puts a considerable financial burden on organisational performance (Blackburn, Horowitz, Edington, & Klos, 1986; Skakon, et al., 2010). Mounting stress, pressure and organisational change in universities has led to increased research importance in the area of job stress on work-life balance and worklife conflict amongst academics. In the last fifteen years work pressure has been constantly rising within academia globally (Gillespie, Walsh, Winefield, Dua, & Stough, 2001; Perry, et al., 1997; van Emmerik, 2002). It has been argued that rising stressors in academia are ‘eroding’ the operating capabilities of universities (Perry, et al., 1997). This...
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