Next to my job I have now for nearly three years worked with the women business network of my company, where together with a colleague, while both heavily pregnant, we created a subgroup to this internal network, called moms@work. Under this hat we have run themed events (see post on the last event) and created an internal blog (latest post). A few months ago we were approached by an amazing young colleague who shares with us our passion for making the equation work-life balance work: for all and especially, for us parents. I would love to share here her post on her master thesis about work life balance for double-career couples and her thoughts. Thank you S.P. for your contribution!
`First, full disclosure: I’m not a mum. Still, I find the work-life balance topic extremely important and some years ago, while writing my master’s thesis, I did a great deal of research on the topic.
I still remember the pleasant conversations (passionate talks!) I had with the people I interviewed. At the time, I realized work-life balance is a hot topic for many of us and I’m now going to share with you a little bit more about what came out of my empirical study.
Double career couples are a reality in our modern society, which often suffers from a lack of time due to the extra work and responsibilities, now a normal part of modern life. In the last decades, many factors have affected the nature of today’s families and the needs of workers, who must be highly organized and manage their life both at work and with the family and still be effective everywhere.
The work-life balance is a challenge and requires a kind of personal adjustment of life's roles, which finally allows having a similar positive engagement in both work and private life. Three factors are generally considered in the assessment of the balance: time, commitment and satisfaction.
The presence of young children seems to be the most critical aspect to manage.
The work-life balance appears to be a common problem for women, who often suffer from a sense of guilt about the children if they cannot take care of them full-time. The cooperation of the spouse in the household and with the family responsibilities has emerged as essential in double career couples where both partners are busy on many levels and perform different roles. Mutual help and a meticulous organization are the key success factors in the management of the multiple challenges.
Long working hours, a poor working environment, domestic responsibilities and work obligations are considered to be the major sources of conflict and bring about the feeling of lack of time, pressures between roles, and incompatible roles behaviours. The effects are felt at different levels, such as health, family relationships, and work context. The conflict for these couples assumes a bidirectional perspective, even if work still seems to have a major influence on the family.
For double-career couples, the major difficulty is time management and therefor the most desired solutions are flexibility in work schedules or a part-time job. Depending on the type of the job, flex time is not always possible, but generally companies seem to be open to allowing employees to arrange their schedules to better accommodate their family duties. A part-time job is still considered almost only by women and high responsibility positions often do not accept a participation less than 100% (it seems incompatible; but is it really the case?).
Not all employment sectors offer the same benefits, so women and men with maternity or family situations should investigate about the company policy (maternity and paternity leave and the possibility to extend it) during the application process, including the availability of childcare.
In the interest of employees, but also employers, these balance practices are in place to ensure the proper functioning of the system by enhancing the effectiveness of satisfied workers.
Have you found your balance?`
We look forward to hearing your experiences!
M. & S.P.