Based on a thorough review of the literature we introduce an integrated conceptualization of work-life balance involving two key dimensions: engagement in work life and nonwork life and minimal conflict between social roles in work and nonwork life. Based on this conceptualization we review much of the evidence concerning the consequences of work-life balance in terms work-related, nonwork-related, and stress-related outcomes. We then identify a set of personal and organizational antecedents to work-life balance and explain their effects on work-life balance. Then we describe a set of theoretical mechanisms linking work-life balance and overall life satisfaction. Finally, we discuss future research directions and policy implications.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Adams, G. A., King, L. A., & King, D. W. (1996). Relationships of job and family involvement, family social support, and work–family conflict with job and life satisfaction. Journal of Applied Psychology, 81, 411–420.
Ahuvia, A. C., & Friedman, D. C. (1998). Income, consumption, and subjective well-being: toward a composite macromarketing model. Journal of Macromarketing, 18(2), 153–168.
Alderfer, C. P. (1972). Existence, relatedness, and growth: human needs in organizational settings. New York: The Free Press.
Allen, T. D. (2001). Family-supportive work environments: the role of organizational perceptions. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 58, 414–435.
Allen, T. D., Herst, D. E., Bruck, C. S., & Sutton, M. (2000). Consequences associated with work-to-family conflict: a review and agenda for future research. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 5, 278–308.
Allen, T. D., Johnson, R. C., Kiburz, K. M., & Shockley, K. M. (2013). Work-family conflict and flexible work arrangements: deconstructing flexibility. Personnel Psychology, 66, 345–376.
Anaton, L. (2013). A proposed conceptual framework of work-family/family-work facilitation (WFF/FWF) approach in inter-role conflict. Journal of Global Management, 6, 89–100.
Andrews, F. M., & Withey, S. B. (1976). Social indicators of well-being: America’s perception of life quality. New York: Plenum Press.
Ashforth, B. E., Kreiner, G. E., & Fugate, M. (2000). All in a day’s work: boundaries and micro role transitions. Academy of Management Review, 25, 472–491.
Avgar, A. C., Givan, R. K., & Liu, M. (2011). A balancing act: work-life balance and multiple stakeholder outcomes in hospitals. British Journal of Industrial Relations, 49, 717–741.
Aziz, A., & Chang, A. (2013). Work-family balance: the 3-way interaction effect of role demands, collectivism value, and ethnicity. Journal of Global Management, 6, 22–39.
Barnett, R. C., & Hyde, J. S. (2001). Women, men, work, and family: an expansionist theory. American Psychologist, 56, 781–796.
Barsade, S. G. (2002). The ripple effect: emotional contagion and its influence on group behavior. Administrative Science Quarterly, 47, 644–675.
Batt, R., & Valcour, M. P. (2003). Human resources practices as predictors of work-family outcomes and employee turnover. Industrial Relations, 42, 189–220.
Beauregard, T. A., & Henry, L. S. (2009). Making the link between work-life balance practices and organizational performance. Human Resource Management Review, 19, 9–22.
Beham, B., Prag, P., & Drobnic, S. (2012). Who’s got the balance? A study of satisfaction with work-family balance among part-time service sector employees in five western European countries. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 23, 3725–3741.
Blazovich, J. L., Smith, K. T., & Smith, L. M. (2014). Employee-friendly companies and work-life balance: is there an impact on financial performance and risk level? Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict, 18, 1–13.
Brief, A. P., Butcher, A. H., George, J. M., & Link, K. E. (1993). Integrating bottom-up and top-down theories of subjective well-being: the case of health. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 64, 646–653.
Bulger, C. A., & Fisher, G. G. (2012). Ethical imperatives of work/life balance. In N. P. Reilly, M. J. Sirgy, & C. A. Gorman (Eds.), Work and quality of life (pp. 181–202). Dordrecht: Springer.
Burke, R. J. (1988). Some antecedents and consequences of work-family conflict. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 3, 287–302.
Burke, P. J., & Reitzes, D. C. (1991). An identity approach to commitment. Social Psychology Quarterly, 54, 239–251.
Byron, K. (2005). A meta-analytic review of work-family conflict and its antecedents. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 67, 169–198.
Campbell, A., Converse, P. E., & Rodgers, W. L. (1976). The quality of American life: perceptions, evaluations, and satisfactions. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
Carlson, D. S., Kacmar, K. M., & Williams, L. J. (2000). Construction and initial validation of a multidimensional measure of work-family conflict. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 56, 249–276.
Carlson, D. S., Kacmar, K. M., Wayne, J. H., & Grzywacz, J. G. (2006). Measuring the positive side of the work-family work/family interface: development and validation of a work-family enrichment scale. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 68, 131–164.
Carlson, D. S., Grzywacz, J. G., & Kacmar, K. M. (2010). The relationship of schedule flexibility and outcomes via the work-family interface. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 25, 330–355.
Casper, W. J., Eby, L. T., Bordeaux, C., Lockwood, A., & Lambert, D. (2007). A review of research methods in IO/OB work family research. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92, 28–43.
Chesley, N. (2005). Blurring boundaries? Linking technology use, spillover, individual distress, and family satisfaction. Journal of Marriage and Family, 67, 1237–1248.
Clark, S. C. (2000). Work/family border theory: a new theory of work/family balance. Human relations, 53, 747–770.
Crosby, F. J. (1991). Juggling: the unexpected advantages of balancing career and home for women and their families. New York: Free Press.
Danna, K., & Griffin, R. W. (1999). Health and well-being in the workplace: a review and synthesis of the literature. Journal of Management, 25, 357–384.
De Simone, S., Lampis, J., Lasio, D., Serri, F., Ciotto, G., & Putzu, D. (2014). Influences of work-family interface on job and life satisfaction. Applied Research in Quality of Life, 9, 831–861.
Dex, S., & Scheibl, F. (2001). Flexible and family-friendly working arrangements in U.K.-based SMEs: business cases. British Journal of Industrial Relations, 39, 411–431.
Diener, E., Ng, W., & Tov, W. (2008). Balance in life and declining marginal utility of diverse resources. Applied Research in Quality of Life, 3, 277–291.
Dikkers, J. S. E., Geurts, S. A. E., den Dulk, L., & Peper, B. (2001). Work-nonwork culture, utilization of work-nonwork arrangements, and employee-related outcomes in two Dutch organizations. In S. A. Y. Poelmans (Ed.), Work and family: an international research perspective (pp. 147–172). Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Eaton, S. C. (2003). If you can use them: flexibility policies, organizational commitment, and perceived performance. Industrial Relations, 42, 145–167.
Eby, L. T., Casper, W. J., Lockwood, A., Bordeaux, C., & Brinley, A. (2005). Work and family research in IO/OB: content analysis and review of the literature (1980–2002). Journal of Vocational Behavior, 66, 124–197.
Edwards, J. R., & Rothbard, N. P. (2000). Mechanisms linking work and family: clarifying the relationship between work and family constructs. Academy of Management Review, 25, 178–199.
Evans, J. M. (2001). Firms’ contribution to the reconciliation between work and family life. Paris: Labour Market and Social Policy Occasional Papers, OECD.
Fisher, G. G., Bulger, C. A., & Smith, C. S. (2009). Beyond work and family: a measure of work/nonwork interference and enhancement. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 14, 441–456.
Freund, A. M., & Baltes, P. B. (2002). Life-management strategies of selection, optimization and compensation: measurement by self-report and construct validity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82, 642–662.
Friedman, S. D., & Greenhaus, J. H. (2000). Work and family—alies or enemies? What happens when business professionals confront life choices. New York: Oxford University Press.
Frone, M. R. (2003). Work-family balance. In J. C. Quick & L. E. Tetrick (Eds.), Handbook of occupational health psychology (pp. 143–162). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Frone, M. R., Russell, M., & Cooper, M. L. (1992). Antecedents and outcomes of work-family conflict: testing a model of the work-family interface. Journal of Applied Psychology, 77, 65–78.
Frone, M. R., Yardley, J. K., & Markel, K. S. (1997). Developing and testing an integrative model of the work-family interface. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 50, 145–167.
Fu, C. K., & Shaffer, M. A. (2001). The tug of work and family: direct and indirect domain-specific determinants of work-family conflict. Personnel Review, 30, 502–522.
Gable, S. L., Gonzaga, G. C., & Strachman, A. (2006). Will you be there for me when things go right? Supportive responses to positive event disclosures. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91, 904–917.
Galinsky, E., & Johnson, A. A. (1998). Reframing the business case for work-life initiatives. New York: Families and Work Institute.
Galvez, A., Martinez, M. J., & Perez, C. (2011). Telework and work-life balance: Some dimensions for organizational change. Journal of Workplace Rights, 16, 273–297.
Gareis, K. C., Barnett, R. C., Ertel, K. A., & Berkman, L. F. (2009). Work-family enrichment and conflict: additive effects, buffering, or balance? Journal of Marriage and Family, 71, 696–707.
Grandey, A. A., & Cropanzano, R. (1999). The conservation of resources model applied to work-family conflict and strain. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 54, 350–370.
Greenhaus, J. H., & Allen, T. D. (2011). Work-family balance: a review and extension of the literature. In J. C. Quick & L. E. Tetrick (Eds.), Handbook of Occupational Health Psychology (2nd ed., pp. 165–183). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Greenhaus, J. H., & Beutell, N. J. (1985). Sources of conflict between work and family roles. Academy of Management Review, 10, 76–88.
Greenhaus, J. H., & Powell, G. N. (2006). When work and family are allies: a theory of work-family enrichment. Academy of Management Review, 31, 72–92.
Greenhaus, J. H., Parasuraman, S., & Collins, K. M. (2001). Career involvement and family involvement as moderators of relationships between work–family conflict and withdrawal from a profession. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 6, 91–100.
Greenhaus, J. H., Collins, K. M., & Shaw, J. D. (2003). The relation between work-family balance and quality of life. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 63, 510–531.
Grzywacz, J. G., & Carlson, D. S. (2007). Conceptualizing work–family balance: implications for practice and research. Advances in Developing Human Resources, 9, 455–471.
Hampden-Turner, C., & Trompenaars, A. (1993). The seven cultures of capitalism: value systems for creating wealth in the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Sweden, and the Netherlands. New York: Doubleday.
Hanson, G. C., Colton, C.L., & Hammer, L. B. (2003). Development and validation of a multidimensional scale of work-family positive spillover. Paper presented at the 18th Annual Meeting of SIOP, Orlando.
Hatfield, E., Cacioppo, J. T., & Rapson, R. L. (1994). Emotional contagion. Cambridge university press.
Heller, D., & Watson, D. (2005). The dynamic spillover of satisfaction between work and marriage: the role of time, mood and personality. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90, 1273–1279.
Herzberg, F. (1966). Work and the nature of man. Cleveland: World.
Hobfoll, S. E. (1989). Conservation of resources: a new attempt at conceptualizing stress. The American Psychologist, 44, 513–524.
Hofstede, G. (1980). Motivation, leadership, and organization: do American theories apply abroad? Organizational Dynamics, 9, 42–63.
Hofstede, G. H., & Hofstede, G. (2001). Culture's consequences: comparing values, behaviors, institutions and organizations across nations. Los Angeles: Sage Publications.
Holahan, C. K., & Gilbert, L. A. (1979). Conflict between major life roles: women and men in dual career couples. Human Relations, 32, 451–467.
Hsieh, C. M. (2003). Counting importance: the case of life satisfaction and relative domain importance. Social Indicators Research, 61, 227–240.
Ilies, R., Wilson, K. S., & Wagner, D. T. (2009). The spillover of daily job satisfaction onto employees’ family lives: the facilitating role of work-family integration. Academy of Management Journal, 52, 87–102.
Javidan, M., & House, R. J. (2001). Cultural acumen for the global manager: lessons from project GLOBE. Organizational Dynamics, 29, 289–305.
Judge, T. A., Thoresen, C. J., Bono, J. E., & Patton, G. K. (2001). The job satisfaction–job performance relationship: a qualitative and quantitative review. Psychological Bulletin, 127, 376–407.
Kahn, R. L., Wolfe, D. M., Quinn, R., Snoek, J. D., & Rosenthal, R. A. (1964). Organizational stress. New York: Wiley.
Kalliath, T., & Brough, P. (2008). Work-life balance: a review of the meaning of the balance construct. Journal of Management and Organization, 14, 323–327.
Kelly, E. I., Kossek, E. E., Hammer, L. B., Durham, M., Bray, J., Chermack, K., Murphy, L. A., & Kaskubar, D. (2008). Getting there from here: research on the effects of work-life initiatives on work-family conflict and business outcomes. Academy of Management Annals, 2, 305–349.
Keyes, C. L. (2002). The mental health continuum: from languishing to flourishing in life. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 43, 207–222.
Kirchmeyer, C. (2000). Work-life initiatives: greed or benevolence regarding workers' time? Trends in Organizational Behavior, 7, 79–94.
Konrad, A. M., & Yang, Y. (2012). Is using work-life interface benefits a career limiting move? An examination of women, men, lone partners, and parents with partners. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 33, 1095–1119.
Kopelman, R. E., Greenhaus, J. H., & Connolly, T. F. (1983). A model of work, family, and interrole conflict: a construct validation study. Organizational Behavior and Human Performance, 32, 198–215.
Korabik, K., Lero, D. S., & Whitehead, D. L. (Eds.). (2008). Handbook of work-family integration: research, theory, and best practices. New York: Academic Press.
Kossek, E. E., & Ozeki, C. (1998). Work–family conflict, policies, and the job–life satisfaction relationship: a review and directions for organizational behavior–human resources research. Journal of Applied Psychology, 83, 139–149.
Lambert, S. J. (2000). Added benefits: the link between work-life benefits and organizational citizenship behavior. Academy of Management Journal, 43, 801–815.
Lee, S., & Kim, S. L. (2013). Social support, work-family conflict, and emotional exhaustion in South Korea. Psychological Reports, 113, 619–634.
Lu, L., Gilmour, R., & Kao, S. F. (2001). Culture values and happiness: an east-west dialogue. Journal of Social Psychology, 141, 477–493.
Lu, L., Cooper, C. L., Kao, S.-F., Chang, T.-T., Allen, T. D., Lapierre, L. M., O’Driscoll, M. P., Poelmans, S. A. Y., Sanchez, J. I., & Spector, P. E. (2010). Cross-cultural differences on work-to-family conflict and role satisfaction: a Taiwanese-British comparison. Human Resource Management, 49, 67–85.
Marks, S. R. (1977). Multiple roles and strain: some notes on human energy, time and commitment. American Sociological Review, 42, 921–936.
Marks, S. R., & MacDermid, S. M. (1996). Multiple roles and the self: a theory of role balance. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 58, 417–432.
Marks, S. R., Huston, T. L., Johnson, E. M., & MacDermid, S. M. (2001). Role balance among white married couples. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 63, 1083–1098.
Maslow, A. H. (1954). Motivation and personality. New York: Harper.
Mauno, S., Kinnunen, U., & Ruokolainen, M. (2007). Job demands and resources as antecedents of work engagement: a longitudinal study. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 70, 149–171.
May, D. R., Gilson, R. L., & Harter, L. M. (2004). The psychological conditions of meaningfulness, safety and availability and the engagement of the human spirit at work. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 77, 11–37.
McNall, L. A., Masuda, A. D., & Nicklin, J. M. (2010a). Flexible work arrangements and job satisfaction/turnover intentions: the mediating role of work-to-family enrichment. Journal of Psychology: Interdisciplinary and Applied, 144, 61–81.
McNall, L. A., Nicklin, J. M., & Masuda, A. D. (2010b). A meta-analytic review of the consequences associated with work–family enrichment. Journal of Business and Psychology, 25, 381–396.
Michaels, R. E., Cron, W. L., Dubinsky, A. J., & Joachimsthaler, E. A. (1988). Influence of formalization on the organizational commitment and work alienation of sales people and industrial buyers. Journal of Marketing Research, 25, 376–383.
Michalos, A. C. (1985). Multiple discrepancies theory (MDT). Social Indicators Research, 16, 347–413.
Moen, P., Robison, J., & McClain, D. D. (1995). Caregiving and women’s well-being: a life course approach. Journal of Health and Social Behaviour, 36, 259–273.
Netemeyre, R. G., Boles, J. S., & McMurrian, R. (1996). Development and validation of work-family conflict and family-work conflict scales. Journal of Applied Psychology, 81, 400–410.
Neumann, R., & Strack, F. (2000). "mood contagion": the automatic transfer of mood between persons. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79, 211–223.
Olson-Buchanan, J., & Boswell, W. R. (2006). Blurring boundaries: correlates of integration and segmentation between work and nonwork. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 68, 432–445.
Parasuraman, S., Greenhaus, J. H., & Ganrose, C. S. (1992). Role stressors, social support, and well-being among two-career couples. Journal of Occupational Behavior, 13, 339–356.
Park, Y., Fritz, C., & Jex, S. M. (2011). Relationships between work-home segmentation and psychological detachment from work: the role of communication technology use at home. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 16, 457–467.
Poelmans, S., Stepanova, O., & Masuda, A. (2008). Positive spillover between personal and professional life: definitions, antecedents, consequences, and strategies. In K. Korabik, D. S. Lero, & D. L. Whitehead (Eds.), Handbook of work-family integration: research, theory, and best practices (pp. 141–156). New York: Academic Press.
Rau, B. L., & Hyland, M. M. (2002). Role conflict and flexible work arrangements: the effects on applicant attraction. Personnel Psychology, 55, 111–136.
Rice, R. W., McFarlin, D. B., Hunt, R. G., & Near, J. P. (1985). Organizational work and the perceived quality of life: toward a conceptual model. Academy of Management Review, 10, 296–310.
Rojas, M. (2006). Life satisfaction and satisfaction in domains of life: is it a simple or a simplified relationship? Journal of Happiness Studies, 7, 467–497.
Rozario, P. A., Howell, N. M., & Hinterlong, J. E. (2004). Role enhancement or role strain: examining the impact of multiple roles on family caregivers. Research on Aging, 26, 413–428.
Schaufeli, W. B., & Bakker, A. B. (2004). Job demands, job resources and their relationship with burnout and engagement: a multi-sample study. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 25, 293–315.
Schaufeli, W. B., Salanova, M., Gonzalez-Roma, V., & Bakker, A. B. (2002). The measurement of engagement and burnout and: a confirmative analytic approach. Journal of Happiness Studies, 3, 71–92.
Schein, E. H. (1984). Culture as an environmental context for careers. Journal of Occupational Behavior, 5, 71–81.
Sieber, S. D. (1974). Toward a theory of role accumulation. American Sociological Review, 39, 567–578.
Sirgy, M. J. (2002). The psychology of quality of life. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Sirgy, M. J. (2012). The psychology of quality of life: hedonic well-being, life satisfaction, and eudaimonia. Dordrecht: Springer.
Sirgy, M. J., & Lee, D-J. (2015). Work-life balance: A quality-of-life model. Applied Research in Quality of Life (published online)
Sirgy, M. J., & Wu, J. (2009). The pleasant life, the engaged life, and the meaningful life: what about the balanced life? Journal of Happiness Studies, 10, 183–196.
Sonnentag, S. (2012). Psychological detachment from work during leisure time the benefits of mentally disengaging from work. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 21, 114–118.
Sonnentag, S., Mojza, E. J., Binnewies, C., & Scholl, A. (2008). Being engaged at work and detached at home: a week-level study on work engagement, psychological detachment, and affect. Work & Stress, 22, 257–276.
Spector, P. E., Cooper, C. L., Poelmans, S., Allen, T. D., O’Driscoll, M., Sanchez, J. I., et al. (2004). A cross-national comparative study of work/family stressors, working hours, and well-being: China and Latin America vs. the Anglo world. Personnel Psychology, 57, 119–142.
Spector, P. E., Allen, T. D., Poelmans, S. A. Y., Lapierre, L. M., Cooper, C. L., O’Driscoll, M., et al. (2007). Cross-national differences in relationships of work demands, job satisfaction and turnover intentions with work-family conflict. Personnel Psychology, 60, 805–835.
Sturges, J., & Guest, D. (2004). Working to live or living to work? Work/life balance early in the career. Human Resource Management Journal, 14, 5–20.
Tait, M., Padgett, M. Y., & Baldwin, T. T. (1989). Job and life satisfaction: a reevaluation of the strength of the relationship and gender effects as a function of the date of the study. Journal of Applied Psychology, 74, 502–507.
Ten Brummelhuis, L. L., & Van der Lippe, T. (2010). Effective work-life balance support for various household structures. Human Resource Management, 49, 173–193.
Testi, E., & Andriotto, M. (2013). Effectiveness of employee welfare schemes: differences of specific professional profiles. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 24, 3232–3246.
Thomas, L. T., & Ganster, D. C. (1995). Impact of family-supportive work variables on work-family conflict and strain: a control perspective. Journal of Applied Psychology, 80, 6–15.
Thompson, C. A., & Prottas, D. J. (2006). Relationships among organizational family support, job autonomy, perceived control, and employee well-being. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 11, 100–118.
Triandis, H. C. (1989). The self and social behavior in differing social contexts. Psychological Review, 96, 506–520.
Voydanoff, P. (2004). Implications of work and community demands and resources for work-to-family conflict and facilitation. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 9, 275–285.
Voydanoff, P. (2005). Toward a conceptualization of perceived work-family fit and balance: a demands and resources approach. Journal of Marriage and Family, 67, 822–836.
Wayne, J. H., Musisca, N., & Fleeson, W. (2004). Considering the role of personality in the work-family experience: relationships of the big five to work-family conflict and facilitation. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 64, 108–130.
Westman, M., & Etzion, D. (2005). The crossover of work-family conflict from one spouse to the other. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 35, 1936–1957.
Whiston, S. C., & Cinamon, R. G. (2015). The work-family interface: integrating research and career counselling practice. Career Development Quarterly, 63, 44–56.
Yang, N., Chen, C. C., Choi, J., & Zhou, Y. (2000). Sources of work-family conflict: a Sino-U.S. comparison of the effects of work and family demands. Academy of Management Journal, 43, 113–123.
Yasbek, P. (2004). The business case for firm-level work-life-balance policies: a review of the literature. Labor market policy group. Wellington: Department of Labour http://www.dol.govt.nz/PDFs/FirmLevelWLB.pdf.
About this article
Cite this article
Sirgy, M., Lee, D. Work-Life Balance: an Integrative Review. Applied Research Quality Life 13, 229–254 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11482-017-9509-8
- Work-life balance
- Work-family conflict
- Work-life integration
- Work-family interface
- Work-life interface
- Life satisfaction
- Work-related consequences of work-life balance
- Nonwork-related consequences of work-life balance
- Stress-related consequences of work-life balance
- Personal predictors of work-life balance
- Organizational predictors of work-life balance