Work–life Balance - History

History

The work-leisure dichotomy was invented in the mid-1800s. Paul Krassner remarked that anthropologists, use a definition of happiness that is to have as little separation as possible "between your work and your play". The expression "work–life balance" was first used in the United Kingdom in the late 1970s to describe the balance between an individual's work and personal life. In the United States, this phrase was first used in 1986.

Most recently, there has been a shift in the workplace as a result of advances in technology. As Bowswell and Olson-Buchanan stated, "increasingly sophisticated and affordable technologies have made it more feasible for employees to keep contact with work". Employees have many methods, such as emails, computers, and cell phones, which enable them to accomplish their work beyond the physical boundaries of their office. Employees may respond to an email or a voice mail after-hours or during the weekend, typically while not officially "on the job". Researchers have found that employees who consider their work roles to be an important component of their identities will be more likely to apply these communication technologies to work while in their non-work domain.

Some theorists suggest that this blurred boundary of work and life is a result of technological control. Technological control "emerges from the physical technology of an organization". In other words, companies use email and distribute smartphones to enable and encourage their employees to stay connected to the business even when they are not in the office. This type of control, as Barker argues, replaces the more direct, authoritarian control, or simple control, such as managers and bosses. As a result, communication technologies in the temporal and structural aspects of work have changed, defining a "new workplace" in which employees are more connected to the jobs beyond the boundaries of the traditional workday and workplace. The more this boundary is blurred, the higher work-to-life conflict is self-reported by employees.

Many authors believe that parents being affected by work-life conflict will either reduce the number of hours one works where other authors suggest that a parent may run away from family life or work more hours at a workplace. This implies that each individual views work-life conflict differently.

Employee assistance professionals say there are many causes for this situation ranging from personal ambition and the pressure of family obligations to the accelerating pace of technology.. According to a recent study for the Center for Work-Life Policy, 1.7 million people consider their jobs and their work hours excessive because of globalization.

These difficult and exhausting conditions are having adverse effects. According to the study, fifty percent of top corporate executives are leaving their current positions. Although 64 percent of workers feel that their work pressures are "self-inflicted", they state that it is taking a toll on them. The study shows that 70 percent of U.S. respondents and 81 percent of global respondents say their jobs are affecting their health.

Between 46 and 59 percent of workers feel that stress is affecting their interpersonal and sexual relationships. Additionally, men feel that there is a certain stigma associated with saying "I can't do this".

Read more about this topic:  Work–life Balance

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