Indian Journal of Health Social Work
Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Work-Life Balance Among Professionals
Mayank Srivastava1, Abhijeet Singh2 Saurabh Dhasmana3
1 Lecturer in Psychiatric Social Work, Department of Psychiatry, ABVIMS & Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, New Delhi, 2 Drug Treatment Centre Coordinator, Drug De-addiction Programme, Central Institute of Psychiatry, Ranchi Jharkhand, 3 Medical Social Service Officer, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Raipur, Chhattisgarh.
Correspondence: Saurabh Dhasmana, e-mail: email@example.com
COVID 19 pandemic has affected everyone’s life. The daily routine of individuals was disrupted due to the pandemic. Employees were instructed to work from home and subsequently, the home became their office. This work-from-home culture had a negative impact on household activities. The daily routine of employee and their family members got disturbed. Work from home/online activities from home leads to an extra burden to the working professionals apart from the other domestic chores or responsibilities. The imposed restrictions, limitations, and changed work patterns make work and family life balance more challenging. This transition leads to different emotional and behavioral problems in the employees and their families. In many instances, different mistakes were made at the organizational level, as employees and employers were finding it difficult for this sudden in the work environment, resulting in disturbance in the workflow. Due to this, demand and supply chain was disrupted and many of the working professionals lost their jobs and many were always in fear of losing their job. This sudden change created the necessity to understand the importance of work-life balance. This present narrative review is just an attempt to understand the importance of work-life balance for employees during pandemics. Potentially eligible articles were searched on PubMed, PsycINFO, IndMed, Microsoft Academic Search, and Google scholar. In the following searches, studies related to work-life balance published in a peer-reviewed journal, written in the English language, were included for the review.
According to the Economic Times Report, (2020), in India the active case of COVID-19 was found to be 3,374, thus the beginning of the year 2020 has seen a major global public health crisis in the form of COVID-19. Pandemic has resulted in the shut down all across the world, and as a result, every individual’s lifestyle has changed dramatically. India among many countries started shutting down as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of the virus. As the country started shutting down in the face of crises, the whole system was confronted with a never seen situation when on the 24th of march a nationwide lockdown was ordered. The lockdown limits the movement of the entire 1.3 billion population of India compelling both Government and private institutions and organizations to shut down. Taking into consideration that at present there is no medicine or vaccine available to treat this COVID-19 situation, “social distancing” was suggested as one of the potential actions to guard individuals against being infected or infecting others. COVID-19 has adversely affected the work-life balance of individuals. Work-life balance has emerged as a burning topic in the last few years. With the inception of the pandemic, working conditions have created a lot of disturbance as many companies in India suggested employees work from home during the lockdown period. The threat of infection while traveling made the organization allow their employees to work from home rather than coming to the office. Changing working conditions had created a lot of disturbance in the personal and professional life of the individuals. They were unable to give attention neither to their family nor to their career. Thus, in the present scenario, work-life balance has become an important subject where both men and women equally share the responsibility of earning for the betterment of their family life. Work-life balance (WLB) has become a popular research area in different fields like sociology (Allan, et al, 2007), psychology (Greenhaus, 2008), human resource management (Darcy et al., 2012), organization studies (Kelly et al, 2008) and gender studies (Sullivan & Smithson, 2007; Hill, 2005). A lack of synchronization between domestic and work-life causes great personal and financial hardship, both for individuals and the company. In today’s competitive era where digital connectivity has advanced, organizations are under heavy pressure to achieve high productivity and to promote work-life balance, because employees with good work-life balance will be in a position to contribute more to the organization. (Naithani, 2010).
- According to Fine-Davis et al. (2004), “Work-Life Balance is related to equilibrium between the amount of time and effort somebody devotes to work and personal activities, in order to maintain an overall sense of harmony in life.”
- According to Clarke et al. (2004), WorkLife Balance is an “equilibrium or maintaining an overall sense of harmony in life”
The Working Hour Model
The working hour model of a work-life balance was proposed by Alam et al. (2009). This model describes the interconnection between a long working hours and conflict between work and family. This model states that work-family conflict gives rise to emotional exhaustion and also affec ts adversely at the organizational level. Due to the around-the-clock busy culture that has emerged from hyper-communication which is no do ubt helping busi nesses and organizations but suddenly work meetings are taking place any time of the day and instant response is expected. It is creating problems in occupational life which ultimately affects the personal life of individuals. The long working hours lead to conflict between personal life and occupational life. Shorter working hours will promote a balance between good personal and work life. Therefore, Worki ng Hours Model suggests tha t organizations should have shorter working hours such as five to seven hours especially for the female professionals so that they have a better work-life balance and contributes to organizational productivity.
This model has been given by Asiedu-Appiah, et al (2014). This model explains that worklife balance should be practiced and designed accordingly if more women employees are present in an organization. This model proposes that a good work-life balance makes it possible for female employees to pursue different activities and career advancement. It gives a sense of satisfaction which in return reduces absenteeism and also increases morale. It states that reducing work-life conflict helps to c reate a healthy and productive environment which motivates the workforce to contribute more. The Career Progression Model thus recommends that organizations should implement Work-life Balance policies in order to achieve the desired performance and to improve the Worklife Balance of female employees.
The emotional Exh austion Model was developed by Yavas et al. (2008). It describes that conflict arises from the demands of the two important domains, i.e., work and family life which further leads to emotional exhaustion if it gets mixed up. In this pandemic, working from home has become a new culture and if the balance between occupational and personal life is no t adequate, it will blur the boundaries between work and personal life leading to different types of problems. Work-family conflict and family-work conflict impact the performance of the employees both directly as well as indirectly because of emotional exhaustion.
The work commitment model has been given by Azeem and Akhtar (2014). It explains that work-life balance and job satisfaction are important for increasing and enhancing organizational commitment among health care workers at all levels like doctors, nurses, and other medical staff. Many professionals have not taken a break since the beginning of the pandemic. Given the current situation, it’s going to be a marathon. It’s a need of an hour to maintain balance to create an environment that contributes to work productivity with personal well-being. Improved work-life balance of employees builds job satisfaction and it’s important to promote initiatives like work-life balance for health care workers, especially in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Job Satisfaction Model has been given by Nikkah-Farkhani et al. (2017). This model proposes that individual factors of an employee’s work and family life are interlinked. A perfect balance between family and professional life including organizational factors complements each other towards the happiness of employees. With work from home being the new normal, the whole functioning of the family has been disturbed. This unexpected shift is taking a toll on the professional’s job outcome with many of them being unable to find respite even in their own house. The job satisfaction model throws light on the interaction between work life and family life which is directly related to the job satisfaction of employees. The focus on the domains of work and family is very important as family and work are regarded as the most important part of everyone’s life, and any challenging demands from work and family life cause quarrels and adversely affect the overall wellbeing of workers. Therefore, high-quality Work-Life Balance can be achieved when there is no role conflict, and when people are satisfied with their work and family roles.
One of the most observable changes which occurred as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic has been the shift of many employees to work from home arrangements across occupations. Individuals from some occupational groups that had very little experience with working from home were shifted to such arrangements (e.g., teachers in primary education) while individuals across occupations who preferred not to work from home, were now forced into such working arrangements. In normal times, the boundaries between work and nonwork roles represent sites of potential tension that many people encounter in their everyday lives (Allen and Martin 2017). But 2020 has been anything but normal. In mid-March of 2020, as many employees began working at home due to government dictates for soci al distancing, the abrupt shift in the nature of work-nonwork boundaries generated potential repercussions for the extent of role conflict. While research on role conflict usually identifies the family as the primary domain of the “nonwork sphere” (Voydanoff, 2005). According to Kossek and Lee (2017), the concept of work-life conflict “is an extension of work-family conflict reflecting the reality that the work role may interfere with individuals’ other personal life roles and interests.” People who experience high levels of work-life conflict report that their work role prevents them from concentrating on important things in their family or personal life; they have insufficient time or energy for the important people in their life because of their job, and they feel like their work role undercuts their capacity to perform the homerelated role. With these interrelated views in mind, we evaluate whether aggregate levels of work-life conflict have changed during the COVID-19 pandemic—and, if so, whether the strength of that change depends on the presence of children at home. Moreover, given claims that women— especially working mothers—have experienced more work-home challenges during the pandemic than men (Landivar et al.,2020).
Though pandemic has disrupted the work-life balance. But there is always a chance to revert back and establish a good work-life balance. For individuals facing problems of work-life balance, planning is the key. Planning the whole day prior to starting the day i s important. Combining work activities with leisure, social, or fitness activities will definitely reduce the stress associated with work. Time management is important. The task should be listed prior to starting the day and a dedicated time should be allotted to each of the work. It may include sick time, personal time, and vacations. These time management activities will enhance individual well-being in long run. Socializing with coworkers during leisure time will be helpful to build a support system in the working environment. Implementation of lifestyle is necessary. It may include, morning and evening exercises , the inclusion o f mindfulness and relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises, yoga, and meditation.
Work-life balance is an important aspect of an individual’s well-being. A composite work and leisure plan is necessary to combat emotional and behavioral problems such as stress, depression, anxiety, and irritability. Organizations need to use flexible working hours, constructive usage of leisure time, healthy lifestyle, self-management, group talks, sharing of problems among co-workers, and lesser negative impact of hierarchy in the organization. In the family paradigm. Proper clarification of the role of the family members based on their interests, common leisure family time, planned family vacation, and role reversal during the crisis, are some of the key aspects of a sound work-family balance. These techniques and lifestyle regularities will definitely reduce the burden of work and will enhance the family quality time. In long run, a proper work-life balance can be achieved.
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