Work and non-work relation

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17 March 2016

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Nowadays balancing between work and non-work life has become one of the major social and family concerns. It has been found that, working stress or family conflict may have negative impact on employee work performance and productivity (Pleck et al., 1980). The main objective of this essay is to find the prevalence of the role conflicts in work and non-work domain and probable influences of this on the family, society and the organizations at large. The discussion will start with a clear understanding of work and non-work issues. Spillover cost-benefit in work and non-work relationship will then be critically evaluated. Next, a critical evaluation on the threefold typology (extension, opposition, neutrality) of work non-work relationship shall be presented. For the better understanding of the work-leisure relationship, work load and technological impact on leisure shall be described with critiques and evidences by several writers.

Then, work-life balance, with the role of women in workplace will be discussed. Next, Complexity of relationships, mutual interference between family and work shall follow the discussion. Finally, a need for supporting home-work culture shall be evaluated. Work life stresses of extra working hour or workloads may affect the non-work life, for example, family life could be vulnerable due to the work life stress. Mageni and Slabbert (2005) asserted that, the sensitivity of WFC is related to individual’s value system. Social support at work may help to reduce the work-family imbalance and all other negative outcomes of WFC (Markset al., 2001). Work issues can be defined as contractual hours of service to the organization and unpaid and irregular tasks (e.g., unplanned journey time employed to the job) that earn a living within a social and economical context (Watson, 2012).

Non-work issues can be termed as family and home life with free time for leisure that provides pleasure and is not a part of one’s business or management obligation (Guest, 2001; Watson, 2012). Understanding work and non-work issues are essential before going to the extensive discussion on this topic. Work issues may include paid work load, company obligations, relationships at work, performance, leisure, productivity and work load management etc. On the other hand non-work issues may include tasks outside the paid work, for example, parenting, political parties, charities, social clubs etc. Wilson (2010) argued, non-work domain influences work domain more than work domain does to non-work domain. Impact of work on non-work can be negative or positive depending on the interaction between work and non-work life. Working on several shifts a day may severely dissatisfy non-work life by ignoring the non-work roles (Watson, 1995).

Organizational policies designed to reduce employee stress may facilitate job satisfaction and life satisfaction with friends and family, improves the level of wellbeing (Burke, 2000). The relationship between work and non-work will follow the discussion. Work and non-work is somewhat inter-related where work-functions in one domain directly or indirectly affect the other. The relationship can be different in nature depending on the type of interference. Frone (2003) said that, work has more negative effects on family than the family has on work. Four dimensions of work and non-work relationships were developed by Geurts et al. (2004). First, negative work and non-work interference is most common when a negative work functions influence the non-work domain negatively. Second, negative non work-work interference is likely when a negative work function in non-work domain negatively influence the work domain. Third, positive work non-work interference is likely when a positive work functions at work domain positively influence the non-work domain. Fourth, positive non work-work interference is likely when a positive work function at non-work domain positively influence the work domain.

It is apparent that the relationship between work and non-work is interactive in nature. Pleck et al., (1980) mentioned that the effect of action in one area is transitory to the other. So, the relationship is directly dependent on the type of interaction. Negative interferences between work and non-works often results in role conflict. A mismatch between the available resources and work demand cause employee also caused by negative interference between work and non-work domain. The same way, if the resources available exceed the requirement to finish the work then it causes employee facilitation Pieterse and Mostert (2005) mentioned that work responsibilities and family obligations compete for time and attention. According to Marks et al., (2001), the nature and degree of the relationship between the choices of coping strategies, personality, situational appraisals are also included in terms of work non-work relation and coping strategy. Spillover cost and benefits are essential to know because if spillover costs exceed its benefits then it would not be feasible. Peeterset al., (2005) argued that, Spillover benefits result in employee facilitation, satisfaction, dedication and integrity.

On the other hand, the cost of developing programs for positive spillover is high and the effectiveness of the programs is uncertain. This necessitates the need for measuring spillover cost and benefit. Several types of spillover are identified by Grzywacz and Marks, (2000), for example, positive spillover from work to non-work domain, positive spillover from non-work to work domain, negative spillover from work to non-work domain and negative spillover from non-work to work domain. According to Parker (1982), positive spill over is work resources such as learning opportunities, skill development, social support; higher job satisfaction etc. that leads to higher life satisfaction. On the other hand, job stress, family problem considered as Negative spillover (Menon and Akhilesh, 1994). Positive spillover motivates the employees, increases productivity and encourages retention. On the other hand, negative spillover reduces the employee performance and productivity, increases absenteeism and tardiness.

A threefold typologies of work-leisure relationship by Porter will be covered in the next section of the discussion. Work and non-work life relation can be discussed under three category; extension/spill over, Opposition/compensation, and Neutrality (Parker, 1982). Opposition approach of the work-leisure relationship typology says, work and leisure are opposite to one another. Voluntarily performed activity in the domain of work place is sharply differentiated from that one performs in his/her behavioral regime (McDonald et al., 2005). It is more likely when people find their work uninteresting and finish the work-shift by doing something differently enjoyable. Neutrality typology of Parker (1983) suggests no causal relationship between work and leisure. Mageni and Slabbert (2005) argued that the work-leisure relationship is difficult to identify from the Parker’s typology due to several limitations.

First, it is likely that occupation with characteristics is exceptional. Second examples; were mostly male dominated. Third, surveys were conducted mainly in towns where there was one dominant industry. Fourth, the relationship of work and neighborhood were mutually reinforcing. Now, the work and leisure relationship in next paragraph will follow the discussion. Although, the typology of Parker is criticized in many aspects, it clearly distinguishes work and leisure from different aspects. Leisure is called temporary respite, for example, enjoying leisure, outing, watching television, playing games, gossiping and physical exercise etc. (Marks et al., 2001). There is a positive relation with leisure and work life, which directly affect the performance and family life of an individual. Adequate leisure can reduce stress and increase the job satisfaction (Burke, 2000). Lobel and Clair (1992) said the due to this inconsistency some behaviour may arise in working places, such as: absences, late completion of jobs, leaving early, and tardiness etc. Leisure is the part of one’s non-work life.

Now a day, leisure is more desirable for pure enjoyment of personal activities. Amaral SCF (2008) mentioned, since the industrial revolution the work hours have reduced for 12 to 8 days and weekend days have increased from one to two days. Bittman and Wajcman (1999) argued that, participating in leisure activities help get recovery from the work stress, pain of losses and tensions. Leisure activities have a direct relationship with employee wellbeing and performance. Leisure provides ample chances to make an equitable balance between work and life. Sometimes, some people use leisure activities to collect information relevant to their work domain. Deem R (1986) cited that, work and non-work relationships are made stronger if leisure and work hours can be utilized properly. Organizations that allow less leisure for the employees face severe disruption in employee performance and dedication. More employee turnover is seen is such organizations.

Many of today’s employers are concerned about employee performance. Hence, many of them take up employee supportive leisure programs meant to provide whenever they (employees) require. Jain R (2007) mentioned that, employers have finally understood that, they do not just hire the employees rather they hire a family. Employees need to recover them from the workload stress, tension and pains of losses. Mehler et al., (2009) argued, severe intensity of job assignments is termed as workload. It is often a source of mental stresses for the employees in the organization. The symptoms of stress by workload are apparent in ways like absenteeism, tardiness, inattentiveness etc. Different people see workload in different ways; some tackle it well some makes mess of it. Changes in workload also change the level of stress for the employees. Endsley et al., (1999) mentions, Some people work only when there is enough workload but this may not be true for all. All business organizations are concerned about the performance to the employee performance. Leading organizations find high performance work system as an important factor to their growth. Workload influences the performance of the employee greatly. Jones et al., (2003) criticized, Employers try to hire and retain employees with high performance records where as employees try to perform less works at their workplace. Rees (1995) argued that, today’s employees are overloaded by the work obligations that results in many negative impacts on their personal and social life.

Workload provides an opportunity to the employees to prosper and learn rapidly. It enriches their experiences which enriches their career. Workload makes employees active and energetic whereas employees with less workload often remain lazy and less productive. Murphy and Sauter (2003) argued that Employees who have the capability to perform certain job enjoy workload. Uses of technology in work life make it easy and complex at the same time for the worker to manage balance in between work and non-work life. Technology has adverse effect on the quality of life and work. Kirrane and Buckley 2004) argued that Physical presence of team members can be ignored due to the availability of telephones in a project. Technology allows producing product that has a longer shelf life, which is most often harmful for health and life. Face to face contact is being ignored many of today’s communication due to the availability of technology.

Thus, human relationships are becoming weaker and misunderstanding is on rise. Kirchmeyer and Cohen (1999) mentioned that due to the advent of robotics many people are losing their jobs as the jobs are being replaced by the robots. Keene and Reynolds (2005) argued that outsourcing of jobs has been accelerated due to the development of technology, therefore, creating serious threat for the employees who are less knowledgeable in modern technology. Work family balance can be defined as the degree to which a person is able to simultaneous balance the temporal, emotional and behavioural demands of both paid work and non-work or family responsibilities. Keene and Reynolds (2005) argued that the increasing numbers of dual career families, high job stress and lack of job security, increasing maintenance costs, improper time management, poor workload management etc. are some of the basic reasons that disrupt work life balance.

Johnson et al., (2005) said that, there are many factors affect work and of family life, such as; the economic, social, and cultural context in which they live, the kind of job they have; the nature of organizations that employ them; and these realm are often regarded as the backbone of human existence. In recent years, there is an increasing trend of involvement of spouses and family members in the work force, which brings a role conflict among the people. Lack of work life balance also leads families to the increased divorce rates; this is highly noticeable in central and eastern European countries (Gutek et al., 1991). To figure out an ideal work life- non work life balance, Jex (1998) described that, it should have coordination of all individual needs including family, hobbies, vocational interests with paid work both at septic stages as well as over their entire lifetime.

With the increasing number of women participation in paid work the chance of work family imbalance may increases. Having a school-going child in dual career family, make the role of women more complex. Guest (2001) stated that, in eastern European countries high female labour participation and dual income families are common. Grzywacz et al., (2002) said, women undertake the majority of household tasks, they can play major roles in managing work and non-work. Women cannot work due to less flexible working hour condition or they experience FWC while doing their jobs (Greenhaus and Beutell (1985). According to Nuria et al. (2003), at least 40% of spouses who work outside experience a conflict between their role as parent or spouse. Rudermanet al., (2002) argued that the role conflict is not only in the home, they also face conflict in working places as employee or manager of a firm, or the other.

From the survey of Rothbard (2001), it is found that, a majority of married couples think that, maintaining harmony between both work and non-work life would be possible if they forget their other role while performing one role. For example when they are in work, they have to forget about the family, when they are in family environment, they should avoid working concern. Man and women experience the WFC differently. Guest (2001) mentioned that working-women face difficulties in terms of managing child-works-family and men face same conflicts in different way. As more and more married couples are entering the workforce, the roles of most of the couples are getting messed up and creating complexity in relationship. Rothmann et al., (2006) argued that Demand of work and non-work tasks are not being fulfilled together at a time. Fulfilling work demand meek the non-work demand unfulfilled and vice-versa.

Individuals are finding ways to make trade-off between diverse roles in work and non-work. Gutek et al., (1991) argued that due to the heavy work pressure, individuals are opting to choose only few roles rather than all the roles in work and non-work situation. Sacrificing some important roles may make the relationship even worse. More and more children are being deprived of their parental love and getting involved with self-destructing activities at very early age (Hill et al., 1998). As women undertake the majority of household tasks, a smaller mismatch between work and non-work for women may cause serious harm to the relationships between these two domains (Keene and Reynolds, 2005). Different processes are being used to produce the same outcome to match the demand of market and for cost efficiency (Pleck et al., 1980). Women are getting more preferences in service sector due to the type of capabilities they possess. Mutual interference between work and family life may cause both employee and depletion facilitation in the work and non-work arena.

Rees (1995) mentioned that, increasing influences of technological stuffs make it easy to mix up work and non-work life; scholars have suggested that distinctions between work and non-work time are becoming blurred. Dissatisfaction in work negatively influences the family life. It most often results in longer absences and frequent shift from the jobs. Rothmann et al., (2006) argued that the impact of work on family can be negative or positive depending on the interaction between work and non-work life. Working on several shifts a day may severely dissatisfy family life by ignoring the non-work roles (Poelmans, 2005). Mutual interference between home and work has become a difficult issue for employed couples. Jones et al., (2003) argued that interference between work and family may influence the performance and wellbeing of employees both positively and negatively. A positive work function in work place may facilitate family interaction. By the same way, a negative work function may deplete the family interaction.

On the other hand, positive family function may facilitate the work interaction. Again, negative work function may deflate the work interaction. Supportive home and work culture facilitate employee retention and productivity thus employee turnover reduces and organizations saves the recruitment and training costs. A supportive home-work culture may reduce the conflict between roles and facilitate work-life balance. Bittman and Wajcman (1999) mentioned that in a supportive work life culture, the supervisors allow flexible timing, provide leisure programs and ignore the career penalties. Such a culture facilitates the employee productivity and performance. Mehler et al., (2009) mentioned that individuals may fulfill both work and non-work demands operating under such a culture.

Thus, role conflicts are less likely to arise. Work life balance merely a dream without a supportive home-work culture. Murphy and Sauter (2003) argued that now employers are proving some such programs, as work flexibility, more leisure and less career penalties etc. in such culture, employers value the their employees to engage in multiple roles. Poelmans (2005) says, as the supervisors don’t measure performance on the basis of hours worked rather on the value added by the employee to the organization, the employees feel motivated to innovate value for the organizations. Work-life programs are proved whenever required to the employees under such cultures.

To summarize, Work and non-work issues are inter-related to each other in a sense that positive and negative influence on work and non-work issues may influence the same in both positive and negative ways. The relation between work and non-work is interactive and transitory in nature where positive action in one domain positively influence the other and vice-versa. The threefold typology of Parker has been critically evaluated here. Although, the typology of Parker is criticized in many aspects, it clearly distinguishes work and leisure from different aspects. Another essential element for work-family relationship is leisure. It provides employee facilitation that helps them recover from the workload stress, tension and pains of losses where as workload may bring positive or negative impact for an employee’s performance depending on the capability of individuals.

To add more, Technology has both facilitated and complicated the work non-work relationship in ways that human has never thought. Hence, Work life balance can be attained by making a trade-off between work and non-work life that may accelerate employee wellbeing and performance. One of the most crucial factors that contribute to the work-life complexity is women participation in workforce. Women participating in the work force are ever increasing and thus roles of women are also changing in home and work which is great challenge for the working-women. Workloads are resisting individuals to participate in some primary roles and secondary ones that maximize the complexity of the relationships in work and non-work situation. Mutual interference between work and family life may cause both employee and depletion facilitation in the work and non-work arena. Supportive home and work culture facilitate employee retention and productivity thus employee turnover reduces and organizations save the recruitment and training costs.


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StudyScroll. (2016). Work and non-work relation [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 29 September, 2023]

"Work and non-work relation" StudyScroll, Mar 17, 2016. Accessed Sep 29, 2023.

"Work and non-work relation" StudyScroll, Mar 17, 2016.

"Work and non-work relation" StudyScroll, 17-Mar-2016. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 29-Sep-2023]

StudyScroll. (2016). Work and non-work relation. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 29-Sep-2023]

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