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Balancing Work and Family No Matter Where You Are

You've got a screaming kid waiting for dinner, your boss on the phone asking questions and a pot of noodles about to boil over. You start to wonder how women balance work and family, especially in other countries where they have fewer resources and corporate support.

Well a new book is about to shed some light on the topic. Nuria Chinchilla, Mireia Las Heras  and Aline Masuda have authored a new book, Balancing Work and Family: No Matter Where You Are

Here's a question and answer piece on the book in The Sloan Work and Family Research Network Newsletter.

Which family-responsible corporate policies appear to be the most successful across the globe, influencing employee satisfaction, commitment, and performance?

This is a tricky question. We observed that there is actually no single “most successful policy” that improves employee satisfaction, commitment, and performance across the globe....employees are happy when they work in a family-responsible environment. So instead of looking at the most effective policy across the globe, I would focus on the most effective organizational culture across the globe.  Having a family-responsible culture is important because the environment supports and creates informal ways to help employees cope with work-life conflict


China How does national culture affect how people experience work-family pressure, and how do these differences influence the selection and implementation of company family-responsible programs?

Chinese employees are more likely to experience stress from work demands than family. In Latin America, the culture about family caregiving encourages women to really commit to care for their children and the elderly in the family. However, in South America the situation is rather different. The key issue for employees or the “most important” thing in their lives is to care for their loved ones, and they report that family life directly impacts their performance.


Please discuss how the influx of women into labor markets across the globe has influenced changes in family-responsible corporate policies.

 Most of the barriers and challenges that women around the globe face in professional advancement do not seem to be deliberate attempts to discourage women from managerial positions, but are subtle reminiscences of workplaces that were designed in an era when the breadwinner-homemaker pattern was considered mainstream.

Could you describe companies that have created family-responsible environments?

Hundreds of companies have created family-responsible environments. In the book, we share many examples of specific companies that have created such environments.


Have you ever lived abroad and experienced a different take on corporate expectations and cultural expectations when it comes to balancing work and family? Do you think we have it better or worse in the United States?