Human Resources: Work Family Conflict and Work Family Enrichment


For several decades now, researchers have sought to scrutinize the issue of work-life balance and from these studies, it is increasingly becoming evident that lack of a good balance between work and private life can cause a crisis. This is the crisis called work-life conflict. Because of the conflict, researchers hence often concentrated on the negative impact of the work-life interaction and their outcomes have suggested that the dual involvement of workers in work and family responsibilities wears out individuals’ energy and they become exhausted and stressed.

Over the years, it was conceived that work and family were two separate issues in a person’s life and required total separation (Kossek & Lambert, 2005, p. 62). However, scholars have come up in the recent past to critique this notion. The renowned sociologist Rosabeth Moss Kanter questioned the idea that separation of work and family was necessary for good and efficient performance at work (Kossek & Lambert, 2005, p. 62). Her argument was that as employment shifts towards more diverse workplaces, it was necessary to eliminate stereotypes of any kind especially the relationship between work and family. This would eliminate negative processes.

Many workplaces are today recognizing the need for work-life balance for their employees just like in this case study (Greenhaus & Powell, 2006, p. 73). The respondent who is a surgeon and nurse’s station manager notes that he tries to ensure that employees have a work-life balance. An action he is also getting from his seniors. Anytime he needs one or two days off-duty he is usually granted. However, because of this, he has noted that some employees use the idea of the family issue to skive off their duties hence translating to poor performance because the hospital does not have sufficient staff to cover for a person who is in emergency off-duty. The move towards work-life balance is not entirely an initiative of the employers because of the impact that it has on the job but partly because of government legislation (Greenhaus & Powell, 2006, p. 73) and the work unions (doctor’s union in this case) such as Resident Doctors Association. The management of Wakaito Hospital agreed to reduce working hours following a lengthy discussion with RDA. This move was not clear whether it was set for retaining workers or just genuine concern for their welfare. However, doctors here still work long hours up to 16 hours a day and at times even 24 hours. Besides the surgeon says they cannot leave the workstation even when there is no patient to supervise.

Work-Life Enrichment

This is a concept that was developed from Seiber’s theory of duty accumulation which purports that when people have multiple roles, it cannot be psychologically enriching. Under this theory, an individual can strike a balance so that they can have control over what they do in terms of time allocation to enhance positive outcomes for both roles (Greenhaus & Powell, 2006, p. 83). This concept focuses on how positive behavior and skills reward people like income and problems solving ability. This concept is appreciated by the surgeon who says that when he has a good day at work he is always happy even when he gets home. Besides, he notes that when he works overtime, he is given bonuses which he considers a very good benefit that positively impacts his performance. His family encourages him to work harder because usually after a hectic session of work, he is usually given time which he spends with his family.

Over time work earns him more money which he can meet the extra needs of his family (Greenhaus & Powell, 2006, p. 86). However, because of the credit crunch, he anticipates that cost-cutting by employing few doctors is having a toll on the job, there is increasing job turnover with many nurses moving to Australia where the payment has not been reduced due to economic crisis (Allen et al, 2000, p. 279).


Work-life balance is a relatively new concept that has been pushed by human rights agencies and governments to ensure people’s lives are well balanced. It referred to personal perception of the level to which the workplace offers a positive relationship between work and family roles.

Reference List

Allen, T. D., Herst, D. E., Bruck, C. S., & Sutton, M. (2000). Consequences Associated With Work Life Conflict: A Review And Agenda For Future Research. Journal Of Occupational Health Psychology, 5(2), 278-308

Greenhaus, J.H., & Powell, G.N. (2006). When Work and Family are Allies: a Theory of Work-Family Enrichment, Academy of Management Review, 31(1), 72-92

Kossek, E. E., & Lambert, S. (2005). Work and Life Integration: Organizational, Cultural and Psychological Perspectives. Mahwah, N.J.: LEA Press.

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