The Positive Side of Work-Life Spillover

Topic(s): conflict, job satisfaction, work-life balance
Publication: Journal of Business and Psychology (2010)
Article: Meta-Analytic Review of the Consequences Associated with Work-Family Enrichment
Authors: L.A. McNall, J.M. Nicklin, A.D. Masuda
Reviewed by: Lauren A. Wood

With the increasing number of dual-income earning couples, organizations are taking more of an interest in work-life balance practices. Much research on work-family conflict has linked high conflict to low job satisfaction, low life satisfaction, high stress levels, increased health complaints, and greater turnover intentions.

However, a smaller body of research has taken a spin to work-life balance by examining the potential, positive effects of work-family spillover know as work-family enrichment (e.g., improving the quality of work or family experiences).

As with work-family conflict, enrichment is thought to stem from two primary sources: work influencing family (WFE) attitudes and behaviors and family influencing work (FWE) attitudes and behaviors.


The current meta-analysis (or statistical combination of many past studies) examines both work and family domains as sources of enrichment (WFE and FWE), by investigating both domains’ effects on work-related outcomes (i.e. job satisfaction, organizational commitment), non work-related outcomes (i.e. family satisfaction, life satisfaction) and health-related outcomes (i.e. physical/mental health). The results reveal that overall, both WFE and FWE are positively associated with positive work outcomes, non work-related outcomes, as well as health-related outcomes. This suggests that enrichment in one domain does indeed have a positive effect on other areas of life.

However, enrichment in work had a stronger effect on the work related outcomes, and the opposite was found to be true regarding family enrichment, indicating that the domain from which enrichment originates is more closely related to the positive, enrichment outcomes than the domain which receives the enrichment spillover. Finally, both WFE and FWE were equally related to health outcomes.    


Taken together, the results of this meta-analysis demonstrate that work-family enrichment positively impacts work, non work, and health outcomes. Organizations seeking to provide a sense of work-life balance to their employees should not only devise tactics to reduce work-family conflict but also work to increase enrichment. One way to increase enrichment is to design jobs which provide employees a great deal of flexibility and autonomy in deciding when and where to complete their work such as offering flextime or telecommuting options.


McNall, L. A., Nicklin, J. M., & Masuda, A. D. (2010). Meta-analytic review of the consequences associated with work-family enrichment. Journal of Business and Psychology, 25, 381-396.