Imapct factor(SJIF): 6.56
A Refereed Monthly International Journal of Management
Problem Faced by New Mothers in Balancing Work and Family Life
Department of Management Studies,
Indian School of Mines,
Dhanbad, Jharkhand (India)
Department of Management Studies,
Indian School of Mines,
Dhanbad, Jharkhand (India)
In 21st century demands of work and life have increased as a result, it has now difficult for women to synchronize work and family life. The dilemma of working women becomes much more crucial after becoming mother. Indian mothers quit their jobs to raise their children, sacrificing their family-responsibilities so they can spend most of time with their family. Against this backdrop, the present study has been undertaken to determine the various dimensions of work and family, which hinders work-life balance of new mothers. In this paper, the relationship of work and family-related problems to work-life conflict has been studied. This study is based on the responses of 189 private sector employees who are mothers and having a first child below the age of 3 years. Various statistical tools namely reliability, correlation and multiple regression analysis have been carried out to test the above mentioned problems. Result finds that mothers face problems such as childcare, waking up at night, household chores, lack of family support at home while inflexible work schedule and heavy work load at work. Finally, it concludes that family-related problems are dominant over work-related problem for such working mothers.
Keywords- Work-life conflict, Work-related problem, Family-related problem, Women, Private.
The concept of work-life balance emerged back in 1970’s in USA , early 1980’s in Western Europe and mid 1980’s onwards in Asia ( Kim & Ling, 2001). Since then achieving balance of work and life has become an important issue for organizations, policy makers and working women. In the 1970s and 1980s, women's organizations like the National Organization for Women [NOW] strived for equal opportunity, equity and childcare for women to combat gender stereotypes and differential pay. As a result, there was dramatic increase in women working outside the home. In an estimation (Brenner et al.1989), more than 83 million mothers are there in the United States and out of which 61 percent of mothers are entering in office. Working mother accounts for almost one-fifth of all employed individuals and about three-fourth of them work as a full time employee.
Mothers who usually work full time also spend their quality time in performing childcare, cleaning house and preparing meals (Levy, 2012). According to OECD report (2012), the proportion of mothers in fulltime employment outside the home has increased from 25% in 1996 to 31% in 2008. Work participation rate of women has also been increasing contiounsly in India. Percentage of women employed in India has risen from 19.67 percent in 1981 to 22.73 percent in 1991 and upto 25.68 per cent in 2001. As on the 31st March, 2005 a total number of 50.16 Lacs women employees were engaged in the organized sector, out of which 29.21 lacs (58per cent) were employed in the public sector and rest 20.95 lacs (42 per cent) were working in the Private Sector. Employment of women in public sector has increased by 1.1 percent and by 2.5 percent in the private sector during 2004-2005. During the year 2011, employment of women employees in public sector and private sector were reported to be 3170.64 thousand and 2783.47 thousand respectively. Earlier, Indian women were mainly employed in teaching, nursing and service sector but they have made their presence in sectors like Mining and Manufacturing too. As per a Labour Bureau report of 2014, women employment rate in factories have increased from 10.6 percent in 1961 to 15.65 in 2010( Singh: 12-13).
It is compulsion to achieve the Rights of Equality they are working hard, in such a condition Employment has become need of the today’s women. Most of the women do not like to leave their job even after marriage, rather, they are coming forward to work in order to fulfil their family needs and make an identity in the society. Being women it is customary in our society to look after the family responsibilities in addition to taking care of workload, this raises the issue of work family conflict. Reports show that 75% of the mothers start full time work in the first year of their child’s birth because most of the organizations offer maternity leave up to first four to six weeks according to maternity leave act, 1961 and mothers have to return on their job even though their child is still infants (Fujji, 2011). Therefore, It becomes difficult for New mothers to balance work and family life than those who are unmarried or married having the older children ( Aryee et al.1999, Ng et al,2002).
In this paper, focus has been on new mothers at least one child below the age of 3 years. At this stage, mothers have to assume multiple responsibilities of their home like cooking, washing, caring of their child (Fu and Shaffer, 2001) which intervene their occupation. In addition to this, mothers have to wake up at night to take care of their child, consequently, mothers don’t get enough sleep. As poor sleep is associated with high levels of psychological distress, depression that lead to work-life conflict (Alexander, 2013). On other side, mothers want to actively involved in family-responsibilities, but due to increased work demands like long working hours, workload, inflexibility in the organization, unsupportive supervisor leads to family life is interfered (Greenhaus & Beutell, 1985). The current study addresses the problems faced by the new mothers who are having child below the age of 3 years, because these working mothers encounter a number of difficulties in balancing their work and personal life. Hence, focus of this study should narrowed down problems faced by such working mothers.
Development of Research Problem
According to the gender role theory, women are more likely to see the family role as part of their social identity than men are. Moreover, while women's roles in the workplace have increased, the expectations placed on them in the family role have not diminished (Grandey et al., 2005). The prior research studies on women have reported that they are facing various challenges and problems in day-to-day life that affect their work and family lives. It has become serious problem to achieve proper work-life balance especially for mothers with young children. It was seen that employed mothers have reported more conflicts between work and home than employed fathers (Dilworth, 2004). Singh (2002) has noted that women find it difficult to get rid of her role as mother because of the conditioning of their family members. Women live in an environment where they feel that their primary responsibility is her home. Literature regarding antecedents of work- life conflict shows that work demand and family demand are positively associated with work-life conflict and these are the most important factors surrounding work-life conflict. Hence, this study is an attempt to find the problems of new mothers (having child below the age of 3). Mothers who have younger child faces much more work-life conflict because such mothers, live under great pressure (Stone, 1989). . From prior literature it is evident that there is no empirical research regarding work-life conflict of new mothers working in a leading private sector undertaking of India. Hence, present study tries to bridge this gap
According to conflict theory, opposing demands arise from participation in multiple roles (Cohen and Liani, 2009). Work-life conflict is a form of inter‐role conflict in which the role pressures from the work and family domains are mutually incompatible in some respect i.e. participation in the work (family) role is made more difficult by virtue of participation in the family (work) role and conflict has been categorized into three types- Time based, Strain based, Behaviour based conflict (Greenhaus & Beutell, 1986). Frone et al, 1996 explained that work and family life are two sides of same coin and both interfere with each other.
Researchers all across the world have addressed this issue in different perspectives. One such dimension on which researchers are focusing is motherhood and work and family related problems. Different age group of working women have different kinds of problems and challenges and different categories as married, unmarried, divorce, single parent, separated, have different issues at stake in the workplace. Some problems are absolutely common, like mental and physical stress, lack of proper balance between work and family- life, unfair treatment in the workplace, stressful life and work place discrimination etc. Levinson (1989) demonstrated that it is not impossible to balance motherhood and their career but it is a tough task to achieve and maintain the balance between both lives.
Work- family conflict came forth as a common problem faced by majority of employees especially working mothers with young children. They face stress related to social visits, personal relationships, children sickness, heavy workload, time constraints (Sultana, A.M., 2012). Mani, V (2013) revealed the major factors such as role conflict, lack of recognition, organizational politics, gender discrimination, elderly and children care issues, quality of health, problems in time management and lack of proper social support influencing the work life balance of women professionals in India.
Most research studies have claimed that work-life conflict have unique antecedents extracting from the work domain and family domain (Thomos & Ganster, 1995; Netemeyer et al, 1996; Frone et al, 1992). Work –related variables have greater impact on work-life conflict (Victor, Thavakumar, 2011). Number of hours worked per week, overtime, an inflexible work schedule, unsupportive supervisor and inhospitable organizational culture have been perceived as work demand affecting work-life balance of women employees (Kim & Ling, 2001). Work‐life conflict has been found positive relationship with number of hours worked as well as inflexible work schedule of women working in Singapore (Aryee, 1999). Research conducted in the field of nursing showed that work overload and inflexible work schedule had a strong positive impact with work-life conflict (Burke & Greenglass, 2001; Yildirium and Aycan,2012).
Positive relationships between work overload and work-life conflict have been investigated among New Zealand and Malaysian academics (Nasurdin, M.A., & Priscoll, P.M., 2012). Another study has identified the relationship between workload and work life conflict, which is positively significant. (Burke & Greenglaus, 2001; Fu & Shaffer, 2001, Boyar et al, 2003). Skinner and Pocock (2008) explained that the strongest association with work-life conflict was demonstrated by work overload, followed by work schedule control, work hours. Previous research performed in the western countries (Eastmen 1998; Feldman 2002; Ng et al. 2007) where it was found significant positive impact of long working hours on work-life conflict. All studies done in New Zealand and Australian context also found similar result that longer work hour are significantly associated with higher work-life interference (Gray et al 2004; Alexander and Baxter 2005; Skinner and Pocock 2008). It had also been a major factor disturbing the bank women employees in balancing their work and family lives (Karthiga, 2014). Work‐related antecedents tend to associate with more work‐related interference than non‐work interference (Byron, 2005). Hence, we hypothesized that:
H1: Work-related problems (Heavy workload, Long working hours, Inflexible work schedule, Unsupportive supervisor) have positive impact on work-life conflict of Private Sector employees who are new mothers.
Stressors arising from family domain namely, family demands are also important determinants of work-life conflict (Aryee et al, 1999; Fu & Shaffer, 2001). Family demands on employed women like child care, elder care, house work is higher than the employed men (Milkie & Peltola, 1999). This has become a major reason of absenteeism for women employee and acts as a precursor of leaving their work pending (Duxbury, Higgins & Lee, 2001). Elliott, M. (2003) analyzed the determinants of work and family role strain among university employees. The results indicated that difficulties like caring for children and elderly dependents were the primary causes of work-life conflict in the family domain. It was explained that that family responsibilities had not permitted the women employees of banking sector to work in full potential at work front and have restricted them from fulfilling their work responsibilities effectively ( Fox & Dwyer, 1999). Bedeian, et.al., (1988) established demographic variables such as age and number of children influencing work-family conflict. Voydanoff, 1988; Staines & O’Connor, 1980, found that mother with children under age of six years had the highest levels of work-family conflict, followed by parents of school-age children. Employees with no children reported the least amount of work -family conflict. Younger children (Infant) are likely to demand more of their parent’s time, leading to greater parental demand compared to the older children.
Another study explored the relationship between family-related demands and work- family conflict among New Zealand teachers who had at least one dependent child. Researchers investigated and family-related demands predict conflict between work and family roles. Results of the study showed that the challenges of balancing work and family life and finding enough time to spend with children were found as biggest issues for parents with children aged 18 and younger in comparison to those parents whose chidren whose age is more than 18 years (Narayana, 2012). This creates more tension for them and they are not able to concentrate on their work (Shiva , 2013). Hence we hypothesized that:
H2: Family-related problems (Childcare, Lack of family support, Household chores, Waking up at night) have positive impact on work-life conflict of Private Sector Employees who are new mothers.
Figure-1, show the proposed model explaining the hypothesized relationship among study variables.
Figure: 1 Proposed Conceptual Model of the Study
The population of the study covers women employees of the Steel Manufacturing Sector of India. All mothers aged between 21 to 40 years old having at least one child below the age of 3 year formed the sample of study. Convenience sampling method was used in this study. Data was collected through self-structured questionnaire administered from all level of working mothers in this sector. A total of 300 questionnaires were distributed to such mothers. Out of 300 questionnaires distributed, 198 were returned with the response rate of 75.6 percent. The questionnaires, which failed to provide adequate data for analysis purposes, such as incomplete questionnaires, have been excluded from the study. Thus, the sample was comprised of 189 respondents, hence valid response rate is 63%.
The research instrument comprised of two parts. In the first part, participants were asked to provide demographic information regarding, age, education, monthly income, level of management and experience of work etc. The second part of the questionnaire contained questions relating to work-related problems, family-related problems, and work-life conflict.
Work-related problems were measured with four items. A sample items was “On the job, I am asked to do too much work. Family-related problems were using four items again which was assessed with childcare, lack of family support, waking up at night, household chores.. Work-life conflict was measured using a scale consisting of eight items were designed to assess various aspects of the interface between work and home. This scale developed by Netemeyer et al.(1996) was used in the current study. Sample items included “Demand at work interfere with my personal life”. Response were taken on 5-point Likert scale ranging from strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree(5). Statistical tools namely, Correlation and Multiple regression analysis have been used to test the proposed hypothesis.
Demographics profile of the respondents shows that most of participants (31.7 percent) were in the age range of 36-40 years, 29.6 percent were aged between 31-35 years, while 22.7 percent were aged between 26-30 years and 15.8 percent were aged between 21-25 years. Most of the working mothers (30.5 percent) were graduate, 23.8 percent had the post graduation degree, 29.6 percent were matriculate, 6.34 percent of participant had a doctoral degree and rest 3.70 percent had other professional degrees. Around 41.2 percent of respondents having monthly income below Rs. 25000, 39.1 percent of respondents having between Rs. 25001-50000, 12.1 percent having between Rs. 50001-75000 and only 8.47 percent of respondent having income above Rs. 75000. 17.9 percent of the working mothers were at the top-level position, 30.1 percent were at the middle-level while most of the mothers (51.8 percent) were occupying lower-level position. As 29.6 percent of the mothers had 0-10 years of work experience, 30.6 percent had 10-20 years, 21.7 percent had 20-30 years, while only 17.9 percent had experience of 30-40 years.
Table 1: Demographics Profile
Cronbach’s alpha is a reasonable indicator of the internal consistency of instrument that does not have right or wrong making scheme. It is most widely used measurement tool with a generally agreed lower limit of .070(Nunnaly, 1978; Hair et al., 1998). Reliability of the measurement scale is satisfactory, as majority of them have alpha coefficient above 0.70. Internal consistency for work-related problems has .852 while family- related problems have .897 and work-life conflict has .780 values.
Table 2: Reliability Analysis
Variables Cronbach’s Alpha No. of Items
Work-related problems .852 4
Family-related problems .897 4
Work-life conflict .780 8
Valid N 189
To test the validity of the scale used in the questionnaire, face and content validity was used. Face validity was determined by the judgement of the researcher, who compiled the questionnaire with various scales, which logically appeared to accurately reflect what they were supposed to measure. Content validity was measured by firstly defining what exactly needed to be measured. In this study, key components were identified through the hypothesis constructed that helped to identify what needed to be measured.
4.3 Hypothesis testing
Means, standard deviations and inter- correlations of the study variables are reported in the correlation matrix indicates that heavy workload (r =.506, p<.01), long working hours(r =.533, p<.01), inflexible work schedule(r =.656, p>.01), unsupportive supervisor(r =.703, p<.01)) were positively correlated with work-life conflict. While variables like child care(r= .757, p<.01), lack of family support(r= .612, p<.01), household chores(r=.649 , p<.01), waking up at night(r= .775 , p<.01), were also found significant and positively related with work-life conflict. These correlations among variables have also seen in figure 2.
Figure: 2 Correlation between Work-Related Problems and Family-Related Problems
Table 3: Pearson Correlation Matrix among Study Variables
Note:-**Correlation is significant at the .01 level ( two-tailed) * Correlation is significant at the .01 level
HW-Heavy Workload, LW- Long working hours, IWS- Inflexible work schedule, US- Unsupportive supervisor, CC- Child care, LFS- Lack of family support, HC- Household Chores, WUN- Waking up at night, , WLC- Work-life conflict
Multiple regression analysis was used to further examine the contribution of each work and family-related variables to predict the work-life conflict. The overall model fit regression equation was determined by F statistics. The model 1 indicates positive and statistically significant relationships (F= 64.641, p < .05). The independent variables accounted for 57.6 %( R2 = 0.576) of variance in dependent variable (Work-life conflict) is explained by all independent variables (Work-related problems). As the overall significance value of P<.05, hence it support the hypothesis 1 that is work-related problems have positive impact on work-life conflict. Overall fitted regression equation is as follows:-
Work-life conflict=1.823+.478(Heavy workload)+ .267(Inflexible work schedule)+.078(Long working hours)+.096 (Unsupportive supervisor)
It can be seen that these four independent variable are positively correlated with the dependent variable work-life conflict. As regression table shows that heavy workload with beta value of .478 and inflexible work schedule with beta value of .267 are significant at 95 percent confidence interval since the significance value is less than .05 whereas the variables long working hours with beta value of .078 and unsupportive supervisor with beta value of .096 does not have any significant impact with dependent variable as p value is more than .05. Although, the more coefficient value is in the case of heavy workload, the impact of this variable is highest on the dependent variables.
Table: 4 Multiple Regression Analysis for Work-Related Problems
Note- * p <= .05
Multiple regression analysis was carried out to examine impact of family-related problems on work-life conflict. From table, it can be seen that each of the independent variables is positively and significantly correlated with dependent variable, indicating that those with higher coefficient value on these variables tend to have higher work-life conflict. The multiple regression model with all four predictor produced R2= .664, F = 86.174, P< .05. As it can be inference that 66.4% of the variances in dependent variable (work-life variable) are explained by all independent variables (family-related problems). As p value is less than .05 (P>.05). Hence, hypothesis 2 is supported that is family-related problems has positive impact with work-life conflict. The regression coefficient and its associated test of significance are given in table 5. The fitted regression model is as follows:
Work-life conflict =1.823 +.403(Child care) +.109(Lack of family support) + .165(household chores) + .211 (Waking up at night)
An examination of regression output shows that independent variables such as child care, lack of family support, household chores, waking up at night having the coefficient value of .403, .109, .165 & .211 respectively have positive and significant impact on work-life conflict as significant value is less than .05. Since the B coefficient is having the highest value in case of childcare, the positive and significant impact of this variable is the highest on the dependent variable i.e. ‘work-life conflict.
Table : 5 Multiple Regression Analysis for Family-Related Problems
Note- * p <= .05
The result of the study indicates that work-related problems and family-related problems have significant positive impact on dependent variable i.e. work life conflict, as 66.4% of variance in work-life conflict is due to family-related problems and 57.6 % variance in work-life conflict is explained due to work-related problems. Largest part of variance was explained by the family-related problems. It means family-related problems are more dominant than work related problems for the new mothers working in private sector. Further, childcare has emerged as a leading issue among other family-related problems like waking up at night, house hold chores and unsupportive family members. In a survey conducted by Equality and Human Rights Commission found the similar result, which explained that over 75% of mothers said that they had primary responsibility for the day-to-day nurturing of children in the home. Malone, A.K. , 2011 also reported that mothers with younger children had greater personal involvement in childcare responsibilities than mothers with older children. As children require additional care, the commitment to meet their needs influences working mothers work roles, which leads to work-life conflict (Khan RL, Wolfe DM, Quinn R, Snoek JD, Rosenthai RA, 1964). In contrary to this finding, it was found that women with children below the age of three years were able to maintain their work-life balance. This result might be possible due to family support in respect of their childcare responsibilities.
Apart from childcare, new mothers were facing another problem of waking up at night, which positively affecting their work life conflict. Under the age of three years, children need more care and attention of their mothers, as they are fully dependent. Children under this age are more sensitive and use to wake up at night more frequently. Mothers also have to wake up with their children and hence, they could not sleep properly in night, which in turn intrude their performance at work that likely to affect work and family life. In addition to this, new mothers have to perform domestic responsibilities like cooking, washing, etc. which has also found to have significant positive impact on work-life conflict. A research also have shown that it was the one of most common responsibility falls on mothers ( Reddy & Vranda, 2009) and have interfered the work life (A. Grandey & R. Cropanzano,1999). Further, support from family members play very significant role in buffering work-life conflict that arises from the parental demand. Current study found positive and significant impact between lack of family support and work-life conflict that establish that mothers lack family support in terms of childcare, sharing domestic responsibilities, which aids to work life conflict. The above finding endorse the findings of Ahmad and Aminah (2007) which found that mother who had least support from their family member positively affected their work-life conflict.
While discussing work–related problems, the problems like inflexible work schedule and heavy workload showed significant positive impact with new mother’s work-life conflict. It is evident that new mothers faces work life conflict due to inflexible work schedule, as they are not able to attend their children or perform any household chores in case of any urgency. In private sector, new mothers also face heavy workload resulting into stress, strain, fatigue that further leads to work-life conflict. This finding have also been supported by a study conducted by Sultana, A.M.(2012), where it has been found that working mothers with young children were facing stress due to heavy workload, and it lead to work-life conflict.
However, long working hours and unsupportive supervisors were found positive but insignificant impact on work-life conflict. This study also shows that positive relationship exists between spending more hours at work and lack of supervisory support as it will always lead to increase in work-life conflict. However, these variables did not affect the work-life conflict of new mothers in Private sector units. The reason behind this may be restricted change in working hours, which is legally determined as 48 hours per week on average. The another possibility behind this may be that unsupportive supervisors and long working hours have not grabbed attention of new mothers as they have other major family issues on which they mostly focus.
Findings from the current research indicate that work-life conflict has become a dominant problem for the working new mothers. Result shows that work and family –related problems have positive impact on work-life conflict i.e., when work and family life problems increases, work-life conflict increases simultaneously. This study further finds that among family-related problems childcare has emerged as a big problem for the working new mothers followed by problem of waking up at night, household chores and lack of family support. At work, these working mothers confront inflexible work schedule and heavy workload whereas problem of long working hours and unsupportive supervisors do not significantly aid to work-life conflict. Thus, it is clear from the current study that new mothers employed in private sector organizations face more family-related problems as compared to work-related problems. Literature also strengthens the finding of this study, as in few studies conducted it has been established that professional mothers had to spend more time in childcare and other responsibility of home apart from paid work (Bergman et al. 2003). Thus, Organizations should modify their policies so that women employees can balance their work and personal commitments.
The study is based on private sector organizations; therefore, it limits the generalization of its findings. Researchers can extend this finding by conducting study in public sector. All the respondents of this research included full time employees hence, the results may not be relevant for part time employees. Future research can enlarge current findings by including part-time employee. This study has not covered all potential independent variables. Future research can add those variables, which are not included in this study.
This study has been concluded with a framework, which will set a definite path to understand the concept of work-life balance and problem faced by working new mothers. The results of this study have implications for organisations, policy makers and employees itself. It would help organisations and their management to be aware of the importance of family‐friendly policies, which will assist new mothers to deal with their conflicting roles of motherhood and workplace responsibilities. As result inferences that new mothers, face more family-related problems in comparison to work-related problems, therefore, employers should focus on the domain of family-related problems faced by their employees. Organization may implement some family-friendly policies like flexible work schedule, reducing the working hours, reducing the burden of workload, work from home facilities. New mothers should be provided with some extra friendly policies until their child are toddler. By doing this, organization can help their employee in spending their quality time with their child as well as assuming the responsibility of home. Maternity and childcare leave provisions are essential for every working mother. It enables her to nurture the young child efficiently. Thus, organizations need to reformulate their policies by extending the period of maternity and childcare leave. Similarly, employee itself should also attempt to resolve the conflict. They could adopt some strategies that might help to cope up with the conflict. First, new mothers should try to manage time and set clear boundaries between work as well as family roles.
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