Finding balance between work and family life can be a tricky task.
It’s an issue that families around the globe deal with daily, and one that Ujvala Rajadhyaksha, Assistant Professor in the Governors State University College of Business, has been studying her entire career.
Her current research is part of a 10-country study titled “The Work Family Interface in Global Context” published in 2017.
Rajadhyaksha, born and raised in Mumbai, focused her research on working men and women in her native India, as well as those in the United States, Australia, Canada, Indonesia, China, Taiwan, Turkey, Israel, and Spain.
While researchers found that families in all countries struggle with balancing work and family, they discovered cultural expectations play a role, too, especially in collectivistic cultures where the needs and goals of the group are prioritized over the needs and desires of each individual. In collectivistic cultures, family demands and expectations such as caring for children and parents place more pressures on the working person relative to work demands. Conversely, in cultures that stress more individualistic roles, people face more conflicts from demands at work.
“We haven’t found any one culture that is perfect,” said Rajadhyaksha, a Management professor who joined GSU in 2015. The next year, she received the College of Business Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching.
“But you do find that if you fit in with the cultural norms of your country, to some extent, it may alleviate your work-family conflict.”
The group of researchers will meet this year in Turkey to discuss a white paper they plan to publish with recommendations addressing work and family balance based on their research.
The research gave Rajadhyaksha a look at work and family balance as it plays out in families across the world, as well as a look into her own personal journey. Since starting with the research team in 2002, she moved from India to the United States, switched jobs twice and gave birth to her now 10-year-old son.
“My personal life has been an interesting journey,” said Rajadhyaksha. “I have gained a lot from the research I have done on this. It has given me a peek into what my future might look like and equipped me with the kind of knowledge I need to make sure I don’t slip through the cracks.”
GSU Newsroom: How did you become interested in work and family roles?
Rajadhyaksha: Just from my own personal experience, I had seen the challenges that working women face and that was always an area of interest for me.
My doctoral dissertation was on the work-family conflict of dual career couples. I started studying alumni couples from my own university. It was at one of the conferences where I was presenting that I was approached by another colleague that was looking for partners from different countries to pull together research for a study on work and family.
GSU Newsroom: What are some of your other findings on family balance?
Rajadhyaksha: We found that work-family conflict was always detrimental to working men and women. If working people had more job control, it increased positive spill over at work and home, and if employees were satisfied with family-friendly policies, they were less inclined to quit their jobs.
In Anglo and European countries, work overload was more likely to create work-family conflict, which subsequently increased the intention of employees to quit their job. In Asian countries, it was family overload that created conflict between family and work and that, in turn, tended to create a tendency for employees to quit their job.
So in Anglo and European countries, you want to reduce work stress to reduce work-family conflict. In the Asian context, you would want to find ways to reduce the kind of demands that the family places on the working person.
GSU Newsroom: Any practical tips on balancing work and family life?
Rajadhyaksha: I stick to my Google calendar and check off tasks and items on a daily or weekly basis. A lot can be done in conjunction with your spouse or partner. We always are coordinating our Google calendars and sharing them so that anytime I can know what are going to be busy days or phases.
I would say being organized, and seeing time as a resource helps. Setting priorities can make a big difference. And, to the extent that you can, choosing to work in places that understand family demands. Workplace flexibility can make a big difference.
GSU Newsroom: You took a group of GSU students on a study abroad trip to India. What is the benefit of these types of trips?
Rajadhyaksha: There’s so much talk about the rapid growth that you are seeing in emerging market economies around the world. We are living in a globalized context. I keep reminding students about the fact that almost everything that surrounds us today is made by businesses and each of those businesses are in turn impacted by globalization.
No one is living on an island anymore and it’s important to understand how the world functions.
Studying abroad is the best way to travel because not only are you seeing new places that are relevant but also getting to see them and understand them with the help of your faculty member who comes with you.