Work & Family

Work, family or personal life: Why not all three?


Work is taking over the lives of many of us in today’s fast-paced, global environment, and if we do not guard ourselves against work–life imbalance, there could be increasing work–family conflicts and stress resulting from long hours and workload escalation. Vacations are getting shorter and are often clubbed with work, or even worse, many do not have the time for a vacation. Quality family time is getting invaded by the omnipresence of media and the internet. It has been well established that most adults suffer adverse health effects from stress, and 75–90% of all physician office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints. Stress is linked to the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide.[1] People who experience stress typically go through different stages and degrees of suffering and along the way they pass on their stress to their direct environment, their families, co-workers and friends. Research in the field of work and family has well established the spillover and crossover effects of stress affecting co-workers, spouses, children, and the community at large.[2] Decrease in work–life balance has been linked to higher unwanted turnover, lower physical and psychological well-being, lower productivity, greater stress-related ailments, and the like. The Waste is immeasurable.


Parallel to these changes in the workforce, work itself has undergone major changes over the last decades. Technology has created a sense that life is moving faster and that more and more activities are squeezed into shorter amounts of time. New technologies have made it possible to perform job tasks from everywhere at any time and have increased the number of interruptions during work as well as expectations of speedy replies, fragmenting time and indirectly, affecting productivity and also diminishing personal space and time. Many of us feel increasingly pressured to not only work faster but also work longer hours. While there is a tendency to think that the new array of gadgets that we are surrounded by in our daily life is a boon, the contrary may be true. The world would be more efficient, more educated, if we control technology and the technology does not control us.


Individuals experiencing greater work–life balance have better health and wellness, greater organizational commitment, greater job satisfaction, better goal achievement, and family happiness. At the family level, work-life balance promotes greater marital and family stability, family cohesion, and marital and family happiness. Work–life balance reduces turnover, improves performance, and lowers the incidences of lateness and absenteeism. All of us should strive for policies and practices that create an enriching working environment. In the end, optimizing the harmony between the different spheres of life serves multiple purposes: economic, social, and ethical. Recent initiatives in this direction are on-site day care centers/creches which are convenient for employees with kids. Help from the organization with the time consuming and the less desirable chores like picking up the dry cleaning, going grocery shopping, paying bills can go a long way in improving productivity and Work–life balance.

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