The Work-Family Interface: Conflict and Enrichment A Study of Australian Social Workers

Parveen Kalliath (2010). The Work-Family Interface: Conflict and Enrichment A Study of Australian Social Workers PhD Thesis, School of Social Work and Human Services, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Parveen Kalliath
Thesis Title The Work-Family Interface: Conflict and Enrichment A Study of Australian Social Workers
School, Centre or Institute School of Social Work and Human Services
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2010-04
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Dr. Peter Newcombe
Total pages 292
Total colour pages 40
Total black and white pages 252
Subjects 16 Studies in Human Society
Abstract/Summary Abstract Social workers serve at the coalface of the human services sector with higher than average exposure to psycho-social risk factors such as violence, threats, and heavy workloads. The current social work environment in Australia is characterised by rapid and profound changes which have contributed to the existing complexities inherent in social work practice, and to factors such as staff shortages and high staff turnover, all of which have been linked to experiences of stress among social workers. Recent theorising on work-family interface (e.g., spillover theory, ecological systems theory, and theory of work-family enrichment) postulate that work-related stress cannot be contained exclusively in the workplace without it flowing and impacting on other life domains such as the family. It is in this context that the present study examined the impact of work-family conflict and work-family enrichment on the work and family lives of social workers in Australia. A review of the literature on work-family interface uncovered certain specific gaps: (a) few international studies have investigated the impact of work-family conflict and enrichment on social workers as a professional group, and none in the Australian context; (b) most studies have focused on ‘conflict’ that occurs from participation in multiple roles (e.g., work and family roles) with little attention to ‘enrichment’ that can also occur from participation in multiple roles; (c) more studies have investigated ‘conflict’ in the direction of workfamily with little emphasis in the direction of familywork; (d) few studies have investigated the various forms of ‘conflict’ (e.g., time-based conflict, strain-based conflict, and behaviour-based conflict) and various dimensions of ‘enrichment’ (e.g., capital, development, and affect); and (e) the literature has primarily focused on the direct effects of ‘conflict’ with little attention to the potential mediating and moderating effects of certain variables. The aim of the present study was to investigate the impact of work-family conflict and work-family enrichment experiences of social workers on their levels of job satisfaction, family satisfaction, and psychological strain. Data collected from an online survey of the membership of the Australian Association of Social Workers yielded 439 usable responses. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses were used to analyse direct, mediating, and moderating models involving conflict and enrichment predicting job satisfaction, family satisfaction, and psychological strain. The findings indicate that all three forms of workfamily conflicttime, behaviour, strain significantly increased psychological strainanxiety/depression. Workfamily conflicttime and workfamily conflict strain had a significant negative effect on job satisfaction, and workfamily conflictbehaviour had a significant negative effect on family satisfaction. In the direction of familywork conflict, familywork conflictstrain significantly predicted increased psychological strainanxiety/depression. On the positive side of work-family interface, workfamily enrichmentcapital and workfamily enrichmentaffect had a significant positive effect on job satisfaction, and a negative effect on psychological strainanxiety/depression. Workfamily enrichmentcapital also positively influenced job satisfaction. Workfamilydevelopment had a significant positive effect on family satisfaction. In the direction of familywork enrichment, familywork enrichmentaffect had a significant positive effect on job satisfaction and family satisfaction, and significantly reduced psychological strainanxiety/depression. Evidence of partial mediation was obtained in six models which featured job satisfaction as the mediator, and in four models that featured family satisfaction as the mediator. These results confirmed the mediating effects of job satisfaction and family satisfaction in transmitting conflict (workfamily and familywork), and enrichment (workfamily and familywork) influences on psychological strainanxiety/depression. The present study also obtained evidence for the moderating effects of supervisor support and family support on the relationship between workfamily conflict and psychological strainanxiety/depression. Similarly, evidence for the moderating effects of supervisor support and colleague support was obtained on the relationship between familywork conflict and psychological strain social dysfunction. No significant moderating effects were obtained for any of the enrichment models. The study provides evidence of the prevalence of work-family conflict and its negative effects on job satisfaction, family satisfaction, and psychological strain experienced by social workers in Australia. It uncovered evidence that the interplay between work and family is not confined to conflict alone, but embraces enrichment experiences of social workers as well. Overall, the study found partial support for the tenets of role strain theory, spillover theory, role accumulation theory, ecological systems theory, and theory of work-family enrichment. These findings have implications for social work policy and practice in terms of developing strategies at the national, organisational, individual, and community levels that aim in reducing ‘conflict’ and enhancing ‘enrichment’ so as to enable social workers in making meaningful contributions in both work and family domains.
Keyword Work-family conflict; family-work conflict; work-family enrichment; family-work enrichment; job satisfaction; family satisfaction; psychological strain; supervisor support; colleague support; family support.
Additional Notes Please print the following pages in colour:251-290 Please print the following pages in landscape: 59, 64, 67, 117, 118, 121, 125, 127, 130, 132.

 
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Created: Thu, 04 Nov 2010, 16:12:04 EST by Ms Parveen Kalliath on behalf of Library - Information Access Service