Researched Works

Balancing Paid Work and Personal Life in the Academe

Work-life policies in educational settings often favor faculty personnel. However, non-teaching employees should also benefit from such policies.

Many researchers on paid work (PW) - personal life (PL) balance in the academe focus more on educators rather than embracing all personnel categories. Such lopsidedness makes faculty members as the "privileged professional workers" in the campus by virtue of their educational degrees and job designation, according to Shelley MacDermid's "Work/Life: What is it and why does it matter" (1998). MacDermid further observes that although universities offer many enticing benefits, they resist change and unable to promote fairness.

However, professors have no monopoly in operating and sustaining the academe. it is also necessary to consider the situation of non-teaching clerical and service employees. In her "Measuring the Quality of Faculty and Administrative Worklife: Implications for College and University Campuses" (2002), Linda K. Johnsrud notes how important it is for university officials to identify and address work-life issues of both faculty and administrative workers. Such non-discriminatory stance certainly influences how university or school workers do their job. It also helps retain them.

Resolving work-family conflicts among university employees

In "The Tug of Work and Family: Direct and Indirect Domain-specific Determinants of Work-Family Conflict," involving faculty and administrative staff of a Hong Kong University, C.K. Fu and M.A. Shaffer (2001) examine "multiple forms of family interference with work (FIW) and work interference with family (WIF) conflict." They notice that:

These studies suggest that the academe should offer policies, however inadequate these may seem, to help employees achieve PW-PL balance. An efficient communication system becomes necessary then in explaining the rationale and procedures for these policies. It is also important in informing employees about plans to modify existing measures and/or to create other programs to help them address PW-PL issues.

Furthermore, as shown in Fu and Shaffer's study, it is not only the culture within the workplace that counts, but the culture outside of it as well. Policies to help balance PW-PL then should also be culture-sensitive, i.e., they incorporate prevailing values of the society where the organization is located. Such value system could be inspired by religion, traditions, customs, laws, education, etc. Work culture then has to embrace or consider these values when designing, implementing, or changing existing HR policies.


Fu C.K. and Shaffer M.A. "The Tug of Work and Family: Direct and Indirect Domain-Specific Determinants of Work-Family Conflict" in Personnel Review 30, no.5. (2001): 502-522. Emerald Group Publishing Limited. (accessed March 16, 2007).

Johnsrud, Linda K. "Measuring the Quality of Faculty and Administrative Worklife: Implications for College and University Campuses." Research in Higher Education, Volume 43, Number 3 (2002): 379-395 (accessed July 26, 2007).

MacDermid, Shelley M. "Work/life: What is it and why does it matter." Address to the University of California Work/Life Symposium. 1998. (accessed November 18, 2006).

Rosser, Vicki J. 2004. "A National Study on Midlevel Leaders in Higher Education: The Unsung Professionals in the Academy." Higher Education, Volume 48, Number 3 (2004): 317-337 (accessed February 16, 2008).

Waters, Michelle A. and Bardoel, E. Anne. "Work-Family Policies in the Context of Higher Education: Useful or Symbolic?" Asia Pacific Journal of Human Resources 44, no. 1. (2006): 67-82. Australian Human Resources Institute. (accessed February 16, 2008).

Written by Leann Zarah (

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