Overtime and quality of working life in academics and non-academics: the role of perceived work-life balance

Rita Fontinha, Simon Easton, Darren Van Laar

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While academic jobs generally provide a good degree of flexibility, academics also tend to work extra hours which can then lead to a poorer work-life balance. In this study, we compare academic vs. non-academic staff and anticipate that academics will generally report a poorer Quality of Working Life, a broad conceptualization of the overall work experience of employees. Secondly, we investigate whether the negative relationships between being an academic and Quality of Working Life variables are made worse by working extra hours, and moderated by the perception of having a balanced work-life interface. Our sample consisted of 1474 academic and 1953 non-academic staff working for nine Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in the United Kingdom (UK). Data were analyzed via structural equation modelling.

Results showed that academics tend to report a poorer Quality of Working Life than non-academics within HEIs, and this is exacerbated by their higher reported number of extra hours worked per week. The work-life balance of employees was found to moderate the negative relationships between academics (vs. non-academics) in variables such as perceived working conditions and employee commitment. We additionally found curvilinear relationships where employees who worked up to 10 extra hours were more satisfied with their job and career and had more control at work than those who either did not work extra hours or worked for a higher number of extra hours. These results extend previous research and provide new insights on work-life balance among academics and non-academics, which in turn may be relevant for the wellbeing practices of HEIs and wider HE policy making.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-183
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Stress Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019


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