Men’s Views of Work-Life Balance: A Phenomenological Study -- Randy Simon, Ph.D., Alumna, School of Psychology, 2011
This study focused upon men’s experiences in integrating life roles, in order to facilitate a broader conceptualization of work-life balance as a continuing process of incorporating various life domains—one that affects all adults, despite its conceptual emergence as a predominantly female issue. Research to date appears to have neglected the views of men in this regard, with twice the number of work-family studies targeting women than men noted in a 2007 review of the organizational behavior literature (Casper, Eby, Bordeaux, Lockwood, & Lambert, 2007).
The work of Moustakas (1994) and Wertz (1983) was drawn upon in employing a phenomenological research methodology that produced an in-depth description of the meanings associated with work-life balance for men today. In addition to exploring experiences and decisions, individual identity, work history, family roles, and outside interests, questions were posed to foster the sharing of information about priorities, stressors, and vision for the “perfect” balance in life activities. Interviews were conducted with ten mid-career men with caregiving responsibilities to elicit detailed information about the way in which they experience work-life balance.
All interviewees consider both family and work to be high priorities. A psychological structure emerged that reflected an underlying need by many to integrate family into work and work into family in order to function within time limitations. These limits often forced continual decisions about trade-offs and produced an overlay of stress and overload. The way in which men make choices about issues of balance is based upon their value systems, at both the individual and couple levels. Values and the finite nature of time are therefore central components of the structure of work-life balance experiences. In addition, a significant new finding is that all of the men in this study expressed a keen desire for validation by others regarding their efforts and lifestyle. Insight was gained into the overall male experience of balancing work and non-work domains, filling a large gap in the literature and highlighting aspects that have previously been ignored.