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  • 2017_Rethinking_Work_Life_Balance_and_Well_Being (1)

    Rights statement: This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in The Routledge Companion to Wellbeing at Work on 23/05/2017, available online: https://www.routledge.com/The-Routledge-Companion-to-Wellbeing-at-Work/Cooper-Leiter/p/book/9781138955943

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    Available under license: CC BY-NC: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

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Rethinking work-life balance and well-being: the perspectives of fathers

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Abstract

When it comes to work-life balance and its impact on well-being, there have been increasing calls for research which looks at fathers. Until recently, the primary focus of most studies in this area was women and mothers, however changing attitudes towards fathers’ involvement in family life and the introduction of paternity leave have brought men into the picture. This chapter draws together existing research on fathers’ work-life balance and well-being in order to summarise what is currently known, and reveal where further investigation is needed.

We begin by looking at men’s experiences of combining employment and family life, focusing in particular on fathers’ preferences and how these compare to their current levels of work-life balance. We observe that attitudes towards work-life balance are complex and there is evidence of ambivalence from fathers about choosing between work and family roles.

We further note that a mismatch in desired and actual levels of work-life balance may be associated with emotional strain, stress and ill health. If this is the case, it is important to study fathers’ work-life balance issues in order to safeguard their well-being. Increased understanding of fathers’ needs is necessary to ensure they receive appropriate and adequate support. Furthermore, a better balance between employment and family for fathers is also likely to have a positive impact on the well-being of mothers and children, as well as improving gender equality in the labour market and at home.

Finally, we look at research investigating possible reasons for fathers’ mismatches in desired and actual levels of work-life balance. Concepts of masculine identity and unsupportive organisational cultures are the constraints which are most apparent in the literature. Improving work-life balance can be threatening to traditional visions of fathers as providers. This is exacerbated by workplaces which fail to consider men as potential carers with family responsibilities and penalise those who strive for greater work-life balance.

Bibliographic note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in The Routledge Companion to Wellbeing at Work on 23/05/2017, available online: https://www.routledge.com/The-Routledge-Companion-to-Wellbeing-at-Work/Cooper-Leiter/p/book/9781138955943