Academic journal article Economics & Sociology

Comparison of the Selected Indicators of Work Life Balance in European Union Countries

Academic journal article Economics & Sociology

Comparison of the Selected Indicators of Work Life Balance in European Union Countries

Article excerpt

Introduction

The concept of balance of professional and personal life gained significant importance in the last two decades. This concept became in focus for governments as well as employers, labour unions and academia. In the context of academic literature it is an interdisciplinary problem researched in psychology, sociology, economics and management. Researches on this e topic aim to provide practical outcomes that would help preventing the negative impacts due to lack of work life balance of employees. Globally, the issue of work-life balance was first addressed by Canadian researchers in 2001 (Canadian policy research network, Ottawa). In addition, the United Nations Organization was also engaged in developing a job-quality set of indicators in 2010 (UN Economic commission for Europe, UNECE). In Europe, the following institutions dealt with work-life balance: Laeken indicators of job quality (2001), EUROFOUND (2002), Employment in Europe 2008, ETUI Proposal (2008, UNECE Proposal (2010), European Commission Proposal (2010), The Employment Committee, EMCO (2011). The Work Life Balance measurements by EMCO also provides statistical data. Visser, Williams (2007) suggested that work-life balance has become increasingly important for a number of social and economic reasons that are making organizations think about how they work, government think about how people balance paid and unpaid work and care while individuals think about the role work has and will have at different stages of their lives. WLB is defined differently and consensus is only reached on the definition for division of activities as work related and non-work related and the time allocation - balance between these two dimensions. Empirical research on this topic is initiated by the European Union in frequent intervals. European Foundation for the improvement of living and working condition along with the European working conditions survey and the European business survey (Giaccone, Cesos, 2010) aim to contribute to better living standards and working conditions. The WLB concept of successfully combining professional and personal life is part of European policies and priorities. The novelty and contribution of the study below lies in comparing WLB in the EU calculated as the average for the selected years of 2003, 2007, 2012 with the data obtained from authors' own questionare research on WLB in Slovakia.

1.Literature review

Academics haven't reached consensus on the understanding and definition of the WLB concept. Therefore one of the possible definitions or views of the concepts is the division of the activities into two categories: work related and non-work related life. Gröpel (2006, p. 72) defined it as the division between the different categories of work and non-work nature. Author states that the balance between work and non-work life is seen by individuals, when time is dedicated to both, However it is seen subjectively. Visser, Williams (2006) classify WLB in accordance with priorities of an individual and compatibility with the life fulfilment and work and life roles of this individual, meaning that WLB can be described as state where the devoted time for work and other activities reflects priorities, needs and ambitions of a person.

Poelsman. Caligiuri (2008) state that WLB is for the majority of population comprehended as temporary state of harmony or homeostasis, without mental pressure, where harmony can be seen as compatibility, satisfaction and subjective well-being. Balance can be described as equilibrium, state that can begin when two objects are in balance, equally distributed. Poelsman, Caligiuri (2008) claim that this definition is not fully reflected in the concept of WLB, given example that hardworking individual spending larger proportion of time at work, can be at balance, when and if the needs of the individual are fulfilled. Work and social life do not necessarily have to have the same time allocation, time spent in both is not needed to be equal and can still be at balance. …

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