Family to work conflict and the usefulness of workplace support

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Abstract

Background

While much is known about the effect of work stress on an employee’s home life, less is known about the opposite effect, that of domestic worries upon work performance.

Aims

To investigate employee perceptions about the effect of family to work conflict (FWC) on work.

Methods

An online anonymous survey tool was developed and sent to all employees reporting to a single onsite human resources (HR) department at a UK research and development plant. FWC included family and other domestic stressors. Work effects studied included those on business travel, work performance and the awareness and usefulness of work-provided support.

Results

The sample size was 286 and response rate was 58%. Approximately two-thirds of respondents reported requiring time away from work for domestic reasons in the previous 5 years. The role of domestic stressors not related to care giving was significant. Support from line-managers and colleagues was important, and the perceived usefulness of in-house occupational health (OH) by business travellers was significant. Only 53% of the workforce said they knew of the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), although 70% of users found it beneficial and usage was higher in females.

Conclusions

All forms of FWC affected work performance, including when on business travel. FWC arose from caring responsibilities but also from financial and relationship problems, which are potentially amenable to help from EAPs. Line-managers and colleagues were the primary sources of workplace support. The in-house OH service and the EAP were underutilized and they may require popularizing with employees.

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