Work-nonwork interference in the South African context
Koekemoer, Frieda Eileen
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One key focus in the 21st century is adjusting work and personal life in order for individuals to find a rhythm to help them combine work with other responsibilities and aspirations in their personal lives. Over the past few decades it has become evident that work and personal life are interrelated domains and that employed individuals experience interaction between these domains. Although the amount and extent of work-family research studies in South Africa have progressed considerably over the past decade, it is not clear how the experiences of the interference between work and nonwork roles compare to the experiences of employees in other countries. There is also no South Africa instrument that measures the interference between work and different nonwork roles in both directions (work-to-nonwork and nonwork-to-work). This could pose potential problems for organisations and future workfamily studies in South Africa. The objectives of this research were 1) to gain insight into the interaction between work and personal life in the South African context and how South African employees experience this interaction; 2) to develop a new work-nonwork interference instrument that is suitable for the South African context and that addresses measurement and theoretical issues relating to previous work-family instruments; and 3) to test the psychometric properties of the newly developed work-nonwork interference instrument. The empirical study consisted of three phases. During the first phase, exploratory interviews (i.e. 92 interviews) were conducted in order to gather information regarding the interaction that individuals experience between their work and their personal lives. Thereafter, a new instrument that measures work-nonwork interference was developed and tested with a pilot study (n = 245) in order to overcome some of the measurement limitations relating to previous work-family instruments. During the final phase, the psychometric properties of the newly developed work-nonwork interference instrument were tested (Le. construct validity, discriminant validity, convergent validity and external validity; n = 366). Results from the exploratory phase indicated that South African employees experience various forms of interaction between their work and other dimensions in their personal life (e.g. domestic, leisure, exercise, studies, community, extended family and religion/spirituality). In addition, South African employees experience various stressors in their work environment that contribute to this interaction (i.e. general stressors such as pressure, overload, workload, stressful working arrangements, and strenuous relationships at work, and more occupation-specific stressors such as stressful nature of the job and not being valued in an unsupportive work environment). Additional supportive aspects present in their work environment included supportive work arrangements, supportive relationships at work and occupation satisfaction. Results also indicated consequences specifically related to all the forms of interaction (e.g. time-based consequences, build-up and spillover of emotions, and energy depletion) and consequences that are more related to a specific form of interaction (e.g. mental preoccupation, strain on relationships, managing responsibilities, limiting of work opportunities, energy generation, learned skills). From the exploratory study, very similar findings were obtained and some unique contributions were made to existing workfamily literature. The antecedents mentioned are in line with international literature (physical workload, time pressures, physical stressors, shift work and recipient contact) and the consequences are very similar to categorised consequences reported in international research (i.e. physical, psychological, behavioural, attitudinal, organisational consequences or work, nonwork and health-related consequences). During the second phase a new work-nonwork interference (W-NWI) instrument was developed which differentiates among interference between work and various specific roles in an individuals' personal life (i.e. work-parent interference, parent-work interference, workspouse interference, spouse-work interference, work-religion/spirituality interference, religion/spirituality-work interference, work-domestic interference, domestic-work interference). During the evaluation study various problematic items were eliminated using the Rasch measurement model. The fmal phase included the validation study where the psychometric properties of the new instrument were investigated. The results provided evidence for constrUct, discriminant and convergent validity, reliability and significant relations with external variables. Tills study provides evidence for the psychometric properties of the new instrument, which researchers and managers can use to investigate the specmc interference between work and different nonwork roles in employees' private lives. Recommendations for future research were made.
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