Perceptions of the impact of work on private life

A recent survey reveals that the majority of Czech people perceive no conflict between their work and family life. Overall, 66% of Czech workers seem to manage their professional and family duties without difficulty. About 90% of workers think that work has no influence on their family relationships or that the impact is positive. However, 40% of young women with no children and 23% of men believe that starting a family would be an obstacle to career advancement.

Finding a balance between one’s family and professional life is one of the preconditions for personal contentment and a high quality of life. In 2005, the Institute of Sociology of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic (Sociologický ústav Akademie věd České republiky, SOÚ AV ČR) carried out a quantitative survey on ‘The context of changes in the labour market and forms of private, family and partner life in Czech society’. The survey tried to gauge perceptions of the influence of work and one’s workload on private and family life among Czech workers. Overall, 5,510 workers aged 25–54 years responded to the survey. The research was supported by a grant from the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (Ministerstvo práce a sociálních věcí ČR, MPSV ČR) within the framework of the ‘Modern society and its transformations (in Czech)’ programme.

Managing work and family obligations

The majority of survey respondents perceive no tension between their work and family life. In total, 66% of respondents are convinced that they manage their work and family obligations without any problems. This group includes people whose work is less stressful and time-consuming. Among women, who traditionally bear the main responsibility in Czech society for looking after children and the household, those with no children most frequently agreed with this statement.

Overall, 13% of respondents admit that they manage their workload at the expense of their family duties (Table 1). A significantly higher proportion of men can be found in this group, followed by university students, people whose work is time-consuming and stressful, and managers. Conversely, 3% of respondents, particularly women, manage family obligations at the expense of professional duties. Meanwhile, 16% of interviewees reveal that they can manage both areas of responsibility equally. This latter group particularly includes women and people with a lower level of education. A total of 2% of respondents find it extremely difficult to handle their work obligations or their family duties.

Table 1: Managing work and family obligations (%)
Q1: How do you manage your work and family obligations?
Answer Men Women Total
Manage both without any problems 65 66 66
Manage work well at the expense of the family 17 9 13
Manage the family well at the expense of work 2 4 3
Manage both on an equal basis 14 18 16
Cannot manage work or family responsibilities 2 3 2

Source: Vohlidalova, 2006

Influence of work on family life

The professional career of most Czechs does not negatively influence the stability of the family, contentment and relationships between family members. Up to 26% of respondents stated that it is possible to adapt one’s work very well to family life; moreover, these workers believe that work positively influences their private life. According to 63% of the survey participants, work has no influence on relationships within the family, as these respondents always strive to keep work and family life separate. Nonetheless, for 11% of interviewees, work makes family life more difficult. In general, people with time-consuming and stressful jobs, managers, services and sales workers, as well as plant and machine operators admitted that work had a negative influence on their family life. No significant difference emerged between the statements of men and women in relation to the influence of work on family life.

Compatibility of work with starting a family

The fertility rate in the Czech Republic has been one of the lowest in the EU since the 1990s (1.44 children on average per woman in 2007). Socioeconomic change – which has also placed greater demands on workers – is not the only factor causing demographic change, but also a change in values among the population and a move away from the family structure.

Nevertheless, research surprisingly indicates that most Czechs do not view work as an obstacle to starting a family. A total of 70% of respondents aged 24–39 years who had no children answered that work could be somehow combined in a good way with the decision to start a family (Table 2). On the other hand, almost 40% of the women and 23% of the men believe that starting a family would be an obstacle to career advancement. Overall, for 23% of the interviewees in this category, having children would make it more difficult for them to do their job, while work would prevent 7% of these respondents from starting a family. More women than men, university students and people with time-consuming and stressful jobs foresee problems in combining a career with having children.

Table 2: Compatibility of work with starting a family (%)
Q2: To what extent is performing your gainful employment compatible with possibly starting a family (having children)?
Answer Men Women Total
Work essentially prevents me from starting a family 6 7 7
Starting a family would definitely cause complications in terms of doing my job 17 32 23
Work can be satisfactorily combined with starting a family 38 34 36
It is possible to combine work with starting a family very satisfactorily 40 26 34

Note: Subsample of respondents aged 24–39 years with no children.

Source: Vohlidalova, 2006

Conclusion

Despite considerable socioeconomic change in recent decades, most Czechs have been successful in satisfactorily managing their family and professional lives. According to the research, this balance reflects positively on being satisfied with one’s professional and private life. However, this is not the case for all people in society; for example, it is possible to find groups of workers for whom trying to reconcile both work and family life causes difficulties. It is most difficult for people whose work is time-consuming and stressful to find a positive work-life balance, which leads to feelings of discontentment in both respects.

Reference

Vohlidalova, M., Souvislosti pracovního, partnerského a rodinného života v současné české společnosti (in Czech, 321Kb PDF) [Connections between work, partnership and family life in contemporary Czech society], Prague, Institute of Sociology of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, 2007.

Hana Dolezelova, Research Institute for Labour and Social Affairs (RILSA)

 

 

 

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