Ten percent of employees experience work-family conflict

December 19, 2003

Dutch researcher Nicole Jansen has established that more than ten percent of employees experience a conflict between their work and their home situation. This means that employees have too little time or energy to effectively combine their work and home roles. Work time arrangements are a starting point for avoiding or reducing such conflicts.

Work-family conflict is a common problem among employees. As well as being socially undesirable, such conflict also negatively impact a number of other areas. For example, such conflict has been found to increase the risk of prolonged fatigue and is associated with higher levels of absenteeism.

Interestingly, employees who experience work-family conflict also adapt their work times and therefore such conflicts have a direct effect on employment participation.

The study also reveals that work-family conflict is in part caused by characteristics from both the work and home situations. The role of work time arrangements in the development of such a conflict was particularly striking. For example, working shifts, frequent overtime and a change of working hours all increase the risk of a conflict.

In addition to this, Jansen also found that there were a number of characteristics of work time arrangements which counteracted the development of work-home tensions. Being informed about the work schedule well in advance, compensation for overtime, and the possibility to take a day off if necessary were found to considerably reduce the risk of a conflict.

As work time arrangements can in principle be changed, they form an important starting point for preventing or reducing work-home conflicts.

Jansen's research was part of the Maastricht Cohort Study into fatigue at work, a three-year study which was started in 1998. At the start of the study, more than 10,000 employees were included as participants. They received an extensive questionnaire once a year and a short questionnaire twice a year. These questionnaires enquired, for example, about work-family conflict, fatigue and a variety of characteristics of the work time arrangements under which the employees were employed. The researchers also collected information about registered absenteeism from the participating companies.
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For further information please contact Nicole Jansen (Department of Epidemiology, Universiteit Maastricht), tel. 31-43-388-2384, fax 31-43-388-4128, e-mail: nicole.jansen@epid.unimaas.nl. The doctoral thesis will be defended on 19 December 2003. Ms Jansen's supervisors are Prof. IJ. Kant, Prof. P.A. van den Brandt and Prof. F.J.N. Nijhuis.

Jansen's research is part of NWO's Priority Programme 'Fatigue at work'. For further information about this programme please contact Charlotte Bos (NWO, Social Sciences Research Council), tel. 31-70-344-0938, e-mail: bosc@nwo.nl.

The research was funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research.

Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research

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