Effects of work environment and family–life balance

Work environment has a significant impact on the commitment of employees, according to a report that investigates the contrast between the attitudes of workers whose employers promote work–life balance, and those that do not. Researchers also found that men were less likely than women to be satisfied with their work–life balance, and that commitment to a company making no effort to help employees balance work and family life was dramatically lower among older workers.


The Work and Family–Life Balance Barometer 2012 (Barómetro de Conciliación) was created using data collected from 710 questionnaires completed by Spanish employees. Using these data, the business services consultancy firm Edenred and IESE Business School have published a report (in Spanish, 2.4Mb PDF) outlining the findings of the survey.

The results of the study are based on the following classifications of work environments:

  • enriching (A) – the company systematically facilitates work and family–life balance;
  • positive (B) – the company occasionally facilitates work and family–life balance;
  • difficult (C) – the company occasionally makes it difficult to balance work and family life;
  • polluting (D) – the company systematically makes it difficult to balance work and family life.

Key findings

Commitment and intention to leave the company

In work environments classified as enriching, 93% of employees said they were committed to their company, in contrast to those in polluting environments, where only 23% of employees declared themselves committed to their companies.

In all types of work environments, men were less likely to be committed to their company.

Of those working in enriching environments who also had children, 100% of them said they were committed to their work, compared to 84% of those who did not have children.

Age had a significant effect on the commitment of those working in polluting environments. Of those aged between 29 and 47, 80% said they would be willing to leave their company, while only 33% of those aged 28 and under were ready to quit their job.

Commitment was higher among those whose manager was a woman.

Level of satisfaction with work and family–life balance

In enriching work environments, 95% of employees felt satisfied with their work–life balance tools. In polluting environments, 57% were satisfied.

Overall, men were less satisfied than women with their work–life balance. However, in polluting environments, women were less satisfied than men.

Only 49% of employees in polluting environments aged between 28 and 47were satisfied with the work–life balance measures offered by their companies, in contrast with 67% of employees aged 28 or under.

‘Emotional salary’

The concept of emotional salary refers to employees’ perceptions that their company cares for their satisfaction and well-being, takes their opinion into account, and offers them support when they have a problem.

In all types of work environments, men were less likely to perceive any emotional salary.

In enriching work environments, 80% of employees aged 28 or under and 100% of those over the age of 28 recognised that they were receiving an emotional salary. In polluting environments, the younger groups were more likely to say they received some kind of emotional salary (50% of those aged under 28, compared to 25% of workers over 47), probably because they did not have dependent relatives.

Overall, the perception of employees with no children was that they received a lower emotional salary than their counterparts with children. In enriching environments, 100% of employees who had children recognised they were receiving emotional salary.

Again, the level of perception of an emotional salary is higher among employees who are managed by a woman.


The study concludes that the large majority of employees in enriching work environments are committed to their company and feel satisfied with work–life balance measures offered by their companies.

From a gender perspective, men are less likely than women to be committed to their company or to value an emotional salary. Meanwhile, the majority of respondents aged 29–47 said they would be willing to quit their job if the work environment was polluted, and this is the group that normally has responsibility for taking care of children and dependent relatives.

In contrast, according to the study, only one-third of the employees aged 28 or under would leave their job in a company of polluting work environment, and this may well be due to fear created by high youth unemployment rates.

Antonio Corral, IKEI




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