Work-Life Balance Still Applies to Those Without Families

Topic(s): wellness
Publication: Journal of Vocational Behavior (2013)
Article: From “work-family” to “work-life”: Broadening our conceptualization and measurement
Authors: J. Keeney, E.M. Boyd, R. Sinha, A.F. Westring, A.M. Ryan
Reviewed by: Thaddeus Rada

Researchers have turned their attention to the potential conflict that employees may feel between their work and non-work lives. However, this conflict has typically been defined rather narrowly. Specifically, most research in this area looks at the conflict employees feel between their work life and their family life; however, not all employees have family obligations in the traditional sense (i.e. a spouse or children). Nevertheless, these “family-less” employees may still experience conflict between their work life and other domains of their non-work life. Until recently, measures designed to assess this type of non-family conflict have been scarce. To address this, researchers have created a measure designed to assess non-family conflict.


The authors’ efforts resulted in the creation of a 48-item scale. The measure assessed potential conflict in several life areas, including health, family, and leisure. For each, items designed to assess both time-based and strain-based conflict were included. The authors found that their measure was structurally sound, and that it accurately measured the various types of conflict that it was designed to measure. In addition, it proved a better measure of common organizational outcomes than a traditional measure of work-family conflict.

This all suggests that focusing of a simple model of work-family conflict will leave out the concerns and problems faced by many employees. Work-life conflict is more complex and more powerful than previously thought. And, for many people, both types of conflict can affect their satisfaction and well-being.