Work-life balance versus work-life merge: a comparative and thematic analysis of workplace well-being

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Sharkey, Jennifer
Caska, Barbara
Issue Date
DBS Library Press
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The aim of this mixed-methods research study was to test the traditional concept of work-life balance, which suggests workers can experience better well-being by being able to psychologically switch on and off. Participants were 133 full-time workers, split into two groups according to where their job was performed strictly at their place of business, or from a combination of workplace and home. Each participant completed quantitative online surveys that measured their perceived stress, life satisfaction and job satisfaction. Results indicated participants who worked from a combination of the workplace and home had significantly greater job and life satisfaction levels than their workplace-based counterparts. However, no significant difference was found between the two groups on perceived stress. Participants also answered qualitative questions about how their job impacted their personal life, how their job might be changed to improve personal time, and what motivated them to work. A strong emergent theme centred around time. Many complained of long working hours, giving them very little time to spend with family, friends or on personal pursuits. For some, stress and worry about their jobs bled into their home life, culminating in moodiness and difficulty in psychologically switching off. Whilst others were happy with the balance between their working and private lives, many wished for fewer and more flexible working hours. Conclusions drawn suggest there is real merit in offering flexible constructs to today’s workers in order to harvest better psychological well-being in the workplace.