Such conflict can lead to damage to family and marital relationships, job dissatisfaction, jeopardize career progress, reduce employee concentration, and increase absenteeism.
Notes Parasuraman, the end of the 1900s saw dramatic changes in both work and family. These have included changes in the composition of the workforce, and the growth of workers with nontraditional families. As such, both men and women face new responsibilities and demands both at work and at home.
Importantly, writes Parasuraman, "the Families and Work Institute reported that work-life balance was ranked among the most important factors considered by individuals in accepting a new position" (p. 3). As a result of the growing awareness of work/family conflicts, Parasuraman notes that, integration of work and family became an important social issue in the 1990s.
One of the most important things I learned from the book was through Parasuraman's discussion of who "owns" responsibility for work and family conflict. Prior to reading the book, I thought of work and family conflicts as largely the responsibility of the individual. After all, any decision to have a family and career is based on personal choices. Parasuraman notes that this is a common point-of-view, but that it is flawed in that "it fails to recognize that most people (including women) work out of economic necessity, to support themselves and their children and other dependents. Therefore, not seeking employment is not a viable option for men or women" (p. 4). Further, the author notes that society expects working women to shoulder traditional family responsibilities as well as work responsibilities, while men are experiencing similar conflicts, although often to a lesser degree. Essentially, Parasuraman's book gave me a different perspective on the responsibility of societal and cultural roles in creating work/family conflict, and the potential responsibility society shoulders for reducing such conflicts.
Another important concept I learned from Integrating Work and Family was that stereotype of the traditional, nuclear family is seriously outdated, and likely contributing to work/family stresses. Parasuraman notes that single parent families make up 23% of the workforce, and that 75% of mothers with children aged 6-17 are employed. Nonetheless, our society clings to the notion that the "ideal" family is one where the mother stays home to raise the children, and the man is employed. Parasuraman makes a tenable argument that society should focus on developing corporate work-family programs, and public policies to reflect the realities of the workforce, rather than outdated ideals.
In conclusion, Parasuraman's book, Integrating Work and Family is a useful resource for almost anyone interested in learning more about one of the most important issues of our time. The book examines the work/family conflict from a number of angles, and also fleshes out the reasons for such conflicts, and their impacts. Personally, the book provided valuable insights into the shared responsibilities for work/family conflicts, as well as a stronger understanding that the ideal, traditional nuclear family does not represent today's workplace reality.
Parasuraman, Saroj, and Greenhaus, Jeffrey H. (1999). Integrating Work and Family: Challenges and Choices for a Changing World. Greenwood Publishing Group.