Few would argue that work-life balance is an essential part of a happy and fulfilling life. Achieving this balance, however, has proven challenging for most people.
Decades ago, when technological advances like computers, cell phones and internet connectivity first arrived on the scene, they held the promise of faster, more manageable work. Technology was supposed to help simplify and expedite a significant portion of our work and thus shorten the workday, leaving more room for family time.
However, while technology has multiplied productivity, it has also had significant negative impacts on the family life of employees. This is because it has created the expectation of 24/7 availability, which leads to workers overwhelmed from struggling to balance work and family demands.
In a research paper titled “Technology Related Role Overload and Work-To-Family Conflict: The Moderating Role of Supervisor and Co-worker Technology Support,” coauthor and Baylor management professor Dr. Dawn Carlson describes work-family conflict as “a form of inter-role conflict in which the role pressures from the work and family domains are mutually incompatible in some respect.”
With the advent of technology, work is no longer confined to the office; thanks to the internet and computers, employees can work anywhere, at any time. The home is no longer a “sacred” domain where a person can focus on family, relaxation and recharging, free from the demands of work.
Today’s employees feel compelled to be reachable at all times — even on weekends and holidays. Yet, this sense of responsibility to the workplace is in direct conflict with their sense of responsibility to be fully available to their families, too. This pull in opposing directions can leave people feeling stressed and overwhelmed, and their work-family conflict is bound to increase.
While the use of technology can contribute to increased productivity, it can also lead to information and communication overload for some. Too much information can make such employees less productive and more prone to mental and emotional exhaustion, which in turn can detract from their ability to connect with family.
Carlson also notes that, “an employee’s work-family conflict can contribute to negative organizational outcomes such as reduced performance, lower job satisfaction and turnover... Technology-intensive workers are more likely to experience role overload and work exhaustion [because] technology has led to increasingly permeable boundaries between the work and non-work domains.”
Eighty-three percent of workers check email after work, according to a 2011 survey commissioned by data protection software company Neverfail. Sixty-six percent of survey respondents admitted to bringing a work-related device on vacation, and more than 50 percent said they send work emails while having a meal with family or friends.
Managing Work-Family Conflict
Some employers are attempting to address the blurring of work-life boundaries by forcing their employees to disconnect from work after hours. In Germany, for example, companies like Volkswagen, Puma and BMW banned non-emergency after-work emails. One wonders how long it will be before more and more companies take similar measures to keep employees from succumbing to the stresses inherent in work-family conflict.
While Carlson’s research suggests that technology-related overload is a stressor “that contributes to work-family conflict,” the good news is that “support from co-workers can play a role in helping to manage this stress.”
An Online MBA
As technology advances and continues to dominate the workplace, continuing to look for ways to achieve a better work-life balance is key. For those looking to earn an MBA, work-life balance may be of particular relevance given the business world's demands on one’s time and energy.
Some universities offer an online MBA program to help students maintain a work-life balance while they pursue the degree. One such degree is the Baylor online MBA. This degree provides students with the skills and education they will need to be business leaders, and it also offers a supportive and encouraging culture of learning.
Furthermore, because the Baylor MBA is taught online, you will have the freedom of arranging your studies and family or work life in a way that works best for you. Fast-track learners can earn a Baylor MBA online in as few as 12 to 16 months.
For students seeking something more, the Baylor online MBA offers a chance to explore not only relevant financial and economic issues, but also interesting social issues facing the modern business workplace. While earning a Baylor MBA online, students can get a solid education and enjoy the work-life balance the degree enables.
Learn more about Baylor University’s online MBA program.
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