Cette étude propose et teste un modèle structurel des déterminants et des effets du conflit travail-famille mesuré de manière bidirectionnelle. Les données ont été collectées par questionnaire auprès de 1 356 employés ayant des responsabilités parentales. En général, les résultats confirment la qualité de l’ajustement du modèle proposé. Des recommandations sont exprimées pour favoriser un meilleur équilibre emploi-famille parmi le personnel et pour minimiser les conséquences négatives du conflit travail-famille tant pour les employés que pour les employeurs.
An Assessment of the Work-Family Conflict through a Structural Model
The purpose of this article is twofold: (1) to analyze the bi-directional work-family conflict, i.e., the influence of work characteristics on an employee’s family life (work→family conflict) and the influence of family characteristics on an employee’s professional life (family→work conflict) and, (2) to assess the validity of a structural model that encompasses both the determinants and the implications of both types of work↔family conflicts. To the best of our knowledge, the proposed structural model is the most exhaustive ever proposed for the investigation of work-family conflicts. Moreover, the study innovates by investigating a sample of Canadian organizations.
The research model investigates the determinants of both the work→family and family→work conflicts as well as the implications of each conflict on an individual’s life, either at work or at home (family). The implications of both conflicts on an individual’s overall life satisfaction are also measured. According to the model proposed in the paper, work characteristics such as organizational support, work involvement and professional roles should influence the work→family conflict while family characteristics such as family commitment, the number of children and spouse support should influence the family→work conflict. In addition, we argue that both the implications from the work→family conflict that are related to an individual’s professional life (satisfaction and job performance) and the implications from the family→work conflict that are related to an individual’s family life (satisfaction toward family life and spousal relations) influence a person’s overall life satisfaction.
Analyses rely on data drawn from a questionnaire that was developed by the authors. The study was made possible by the support of the Confederation of National Trade Unions (CNTU), a major Quebec labour movement, through its Women’s Office. Initially, the research team called executive members from each the seven labour federations comprising the CNTU to enquire if they would be willing to participate in the study and, if so, how many questionnaires should be sent to them by the Office. The only pre-requisite condition to respond to the questionnaire was for an employee’s to be supporting at least one child. Respondents put the completed questionnaire in a pre-addressed envelope to be received by one member of the research team. Respondents could either send the envelope directly to the research team or to a member of their Federation’s executive, who would then send it to the Office to be forwarded to the research team. Two weeks after the initial distribution of the questionnaires, a reminder was sent to each local union. From the 8,712 questionnaires that were sent to local unions comprising the seven Federations, 1,306 were returned for a response rate of 16% (50 respondents who indicated that they were not supporting any child were dropped from the sample).
The respondents hold different types of jobs: 391 are office clerks, 377 are professionals, 335 are technicians, 63 are production or maintenance workers, 11 are managers and 113 have another position. The respondents’ average age is 40, with 76% of them being women (n = 995) and 52% of them having two children (n = 677). Close to 85% of respondents live with a spouse, 36% of respondents have a junior college education (n = 467), 27% have a high school education (n = 351), 24% have an undergraduate degree (n = 319), 13% have a graduate education (n = 165) and 0.2% did not complete elementary school (n = 3).
Consistent with prior work, respondents perceive the work→family conflict (mean response = 3.92/7) to be more serious than the family→work conflict (mean response = 2.51/7). This finding may indicate that the boundaries around family life are more porous than those around work. For instance, in a conflict situation, employees tend to reduce their family responsibilities more than their professional responsibilities as, in contrast to family life, work implies formal performance reviews and compensation considerations. Moreover, in the short run, employees may perceive that they are more likely to suffer negative consequences if they neglect their professional responsibilities than if they neglect their family responsibilities.
Causal relations that are implied by the research model are tested through structural equations. The chi-square/degrees of freedom ratio is 3.53, which is acceptable by conventional standards. While most model-derived relations are validated, the following results are highlighted:
Work→family conflict determinants. While both organizational support and work commitment are shown to influence the conflict in the expected directions, their impact is not statistically significant. Job ambiguity as well as job conflicts and role confusion increase the level of this conflict (1.322***).
Family→work conflict determinants. Commitment towards the family has a positive but not statistically significant influence on this conflict. As expected, a higher number of children increases the level of this conflict (0.156***) while spousal support attenuates its extent (–0.673***).
Implications from the work→family conflict. This conflict leads to less overall satisfaction toward life (–0.073***) as well as toward the family (–0.124***). However, this conflict does not seem to influence the satisfaction towards spousal relations.
Implications from the family→work conflict. This conflict has a negative effect on job performance (–0.78***). However, it has no implications on work satisfaction and on overall satisfaction towards life.
Overall satisfaction towards life. Only the work→family conflict influences this comprehensive measure of satisfaction.
Other relations inferred from the model. Organizational support to help achieve a better balance between work and family significantly enhances employees’ work satisfaction (0.484***) and job performance (0.319***). In addition, spousal support greatly increases an employee’s satisfaction towards spousal relations (0.965***) and family life (0.773***).
Since some of the determinants of the work-family conflicts are under the control of employees and/or organizations, our findings may suggest potential courses of action for organizations that strive to attenuate the magnitude of such conflicts. For instance, to minimize the work→family conflict and to optimize overall life satisfaction, employees and organizations must strive to create and offer jobs where roles are not susceptible to conflicts, are unambiguous and are not overstacked. Moreover, organizations have an incentive to support initiatives that allow employees to maintain a better balance between work and family as these initiatives lead to improved employees work satisfaction and job performance. To the best of our knowledge, our study is the first to analyze and to corroborate how organizational support in the management of the work-family conflict can influence employees’ job performance. Finally, our study indicates that employees who want to minimize the family→work conflict must choose a spouse who will support them in both their professional and family lives. While the number of children is a significant variable in explaining the family→work conflict, spousal support does appear to be the critical variable in that regard.
Verificación de un modelo estructural respecto al conflicto trabajo-familia
Este estudio propone y testa un modelo estructural de factores determinantes y efectos del conflicto trabajo – familia basandose en medidas bi-direccionales. Los datos han sido obtenidos mediante un cuestionario administrado a 1356 empleados en situación de responsabilidad parental. De manera general, los resultados confirman la calidad de ajuste del modelo propuesto. Diferentes recomendaciones son formuladas a fin de favorecer un mejor equilibrio empleo-familia para el personal y minimizar las consecuencias negativas del conflicto trabajo-familia tanto para los empleados que para los empleadores.