The Effect of Increasing Satisfaction with Work-Life Balance on Faculty Wellbeing

Thursday, 19 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Catherine BERHEIDE, Skidmore College, USA
Employed parents often struggle to reconcile their work and family lives. The demands of work, such as the number of hours worked, and the demands of home, such as caregiving, are the main sources of work-family conflict, which can have a negative effect on employees’ quality of life. For university faculty, the years immediately following receipt of the doctorate are critical for launching one’s career and for starting a family. This overlap between the prime childbearing and working years may negatively affect the wellbeing of faculty who want to combine a career with a family.

Using data from the 2009 baseline and the 2012 follow-up survey of work life administered to faculty at two elite private liberal arts colleges in the United States, this paper examines whether increases in satisfaction with work-life balance between 2009 and 2012 predicted a higher score on the nine-item wellbeing index (happy, fatigued, stressed, nervous, depressed, short-tempered, well rested, healthy, and physically fit) in 2012. The 2009 survey had a 70 percent response rate with 237 responses, 136 of whom also completed the 2012 survey.

OLS regression analysis revealed that controlling for hours worked, the college of employment, faculty rank, marital status, parental status, gender, race, and age, a positive change in satisfaction with work-life balance between 2009 and 2012 significantly predicted greater self-reported wellbeing in 2012. One measure of work demands (rank) and one measure of family responsibilities (children) were also statistically significant predictors of wellbeing. Full professors reported greater wellbeing than those in lower faculty ranks. Faculty with children reported lower wellbeing than faculty without children. These nine variables explained 20 percent of the variance in faculty wellbeing (R2 = .197; p < .05). To improve faculty wellbeing, universities need to improve faculty satisfaction with work-life balance by providing a more family-friendly workplace.