With more women entering or re-entering the workforce it is changing Singapore’s family landscape with more dual-earner married couples. According to Singapore’s General Household Survey report, the proportion of dual-earner married couples increased from 47.15 in 2010 to 53.8% in 2015. These couples have an added dynamic to contend with: work-life conflict.

In a study on employed married parents by Erickson et al. (2000) family demands were found to be associated with higher absence frequency. Absence from work, due either to sick leave or other reasons, is a costly affair for employers. US employers face an estimated absenteeism-related expenses of $74 billion US annually[1] . However, absenteeism rates only tell part of the productivity story. A less visible problem is presenteeism, which imposes on US employers an additional $150 billion in hidden costs. [2]

Employees who have work-life conflict, as Johnson found out, are three times more likely to quit the job than employees who have work-life balance [3]. The cost related to the exit of an employee (replacement and training of the new employee) must now be borne by the employer.

Firms that adopt family-friendly policies do better at attracting and retaining committed staff. [4]

The Spillover and Crossover Effect

Work-family Spillover/Family-work Spillover
Bogler studied The Contagion of Stress across Multiple Roles (Bogler 1989). He found that overloads at home leads to overloads at work, most probably due to the depletion of time and energy, which creates a deficit of resources for meeting subsequent work demands.

Work-Family Crossover/Family-work Crossover 
An example of a crossover effect would be one in which an individual transfers feelings of stress or fatigue to his/her partner. Research studies have shown this effect to occur between partners. For example, a study by Demerouti, Bakker and Schaufeli (2005) indicated that partners of employees suffering from burnout may actually develop burnout themselves.[5]

In the process of crossover, transmission of states of well-being takes place between closely related persons.[6]  Research has shown that this process can entail both the transfer of negative, as well as positive experiences.[7] Partners in unhappy couples might be more reactive to each other’s stress states and negative moods, perhaps exacerbating their everyday stressful experiences. Knowing that unhappy couples may sync up their cortisol more strongly gives us some insight into why distressed marriages can be detrimental to health.[8]

Work-family/Family-work Enrichment
Process by which one role strengthens or enriches the quality of the other role. A variety of resources from work and family roles have the capacity to provide positive experiences in the other role.

Enrichment occurs when resources obtained in a role improves quality of life in the other role[9] . Carlson et al. (2006) explained work-family enrichment as a bi-directional process, i.e. involvement in work domain can enhance functioning in family domain (work-to-family enrichment) and/or involvement in family domain can enhance functioning in work domain (family-to-work enrichment).

Family-to-work enrichment has been observed to be associated with important consequences, like family satisfaction [10]; marital satisfaction [11]; physical and mental health [12]; reduced negative effects of work-family conflict [13]; and reduced turnover intention [14].

References
[1]  Ruiz, G. (April 19, 2006). Tallying the true cost of absenteeism. Workforce Management. http://www.workforce.com/section/00/article/24/33/85.html

[2]  Hemp, P. (2004). Presenteeism: At work – but out of it. Harvard Business Review, October, 49-58

[3] Warrenand Johnson 1995

[4]  Csiernik 2005; Davis and Kalleberg; Osterman 1995

[5] 
Demerouti, E., Bakker, A.B., & Schaufeli, W.B. (2005). Spillover and crossover of exhaustion and life satisfaction among dual-earner parents. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 67, 266-289.

[6] Westman, M. (2002). Crossover of stress and strain in the family and in the workplace. In P.L. Perrewé & D.C. Ganster (Eds.), Research in occupational stress and well-being (Vol. 2). JAI Press/Elsevier Science.

[7] Bakker, A.B., & Demerouti, E. (in press). The Spillover-Crossover model. In J. Grzywacs & E. Demerouti (Eds.), Work-life balance. Psychology Press.

[8]
Saxbe DE, Adam EK, Schetter CD, Guardino CM, Simon C, McKinney CO, Shalowitz MU, Kennedy E Cortisol covariation within parents of young children: Moderation by relationship aggression Psychoneuroendocrinology 2015, 62

[9] Greenhaus and Powell, 2006

[10] Jaga and Bagrain, 2011

[11] Hakanen et al., 2011

[12]  McNall et al., 2010

[13] Garies et al., 2009

[14] Wayne et al., 2006