INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ORGANIZATION THEORY AND BEHAVIOR, 16 (1), 42-67 SPRING 2013
WORK-LIFE AND LIFE-WORK CONFLICTING CROATIAN COMPANIES:
Andrijana Mušura, Mirna Koričan and Siniša Krajnović*
ABSTRACT. With the rapid use of new technologies and longer working
hours, balancing work and one’s personal life is becoming more important
from the employees’ and employers’ perspective. Research suggests that
employees who have greater work-life balance perform better and are less
likely to leave the organization. Additionally, the satisfaction and balance of
life and work also becomes a predictor of job satisfaction and productivity in
the workplace. When organizations put increasing pressure on their
employees and do not manage the above mentioned balances appropriately,
work-life conflict may appear. Work-life and life-work conflict consequently
negatively affects employees, as well as their employers. To analyze which
antecedents can predict work-life balance and conflict in Croatian
companies an online survey was conducted on a sample of 107
respondents. The results showed that work stress factors, job satisfaction,
work-life balance company policies, and level of self-esteem influence work-
life and life-work conflict.
Recent changes in workforce trends changes include an increase
of women in the paid workforce, a tightening of the labor market for
* Andrijana Mušura, MA, is a lecturer at Zagreb School of Economics and
Management, Department of Management. Her teaching and research
interests are in the field of applied psychology, organizational and consumer
behavior. Mirna Koričan, MA, MBA is a lecturer at Zagreb School of
Economics and Management, Department of Management. Her teaching
and research interests are in the field of applied psychology, management
and human resources. Siniša Krajnović, Ph.D., is a lecturer at Zagreb School
of Economics and Management, Department of Management. His teaching
and research interests are in the field of project and operations
Copyright © 2013 by Pracademics Press
WORK-LIFE AND LIFE-WORK CONFLICTING CROATIAN COMPANIES: SOME PERSPECTIVES 43
the attraction of skilled workers, an increase in single parent families,
and an ageing workforce (Webber, Sarris, & Bessell, 2010). There has
been an increased prevalence of dual-earner couples challenges the
traditional gender roles of women working in unpaid positions within
the home and men working in paid positions outside of the home
(Ansari, 2011; Warner & Hausdorf, 2007; Obradović & Čudina-
Obradović, 2009; Crooker, Smith, & Tabak, 1999). Additionally,
today’s work place differs greatly from that of 10 or 20 years ago. It is
no longer a discrete physical location, and technology has brought
profound changes to the ways people work (Kreiner, Hollensbe, &
Sheep, 2009). Many industries have computerized their production,
started to consolidate and are becoming more responsive to the
needs of markets and customers.
Since all of these trends have occurred, there is a growing
interest in employees’ achieving a healthy work-life balance (Webber,
Sarris, & Bessell, 2010), which can be described as satisfaction and
good functioning at work and at home with minimum role conflict
When organizations are not taking care of their employees,
several social but also financial consequences ensue (Naithani,
2010). Organizations that do not care about a work-life balance due
to the recession can expect long-term consequences of lower
employee engagement, productivity, and satisfaction. Workers who
report being more satisfied with balancing work/life responsibility
report higher levels of job satisfaction (Prizmić, Kaliterna Lipovčan, &
Burušić, 2009). Lower engagement and satisfaction result in lower
customer satisfaction, which can bring lower profits for the company
(Oakley, 2012).When expectations and demands from work and
family are incompatible, they result in a form of inter-domain conflict
called work-life conflict (Netemeyer, Boles, & McMurrian, 1996).
Greenhaus and Beutell (1985) defined work-life and life-work
conflict (WL/LWC) as a form of inter-role conflict in which the role
pressures from work and family domains are mutually incompatible in
some respect. Conflict may arise from either domain: work-to-life or
life-to-work conflict (Stoeva et al., 2002) and some add that this
conflict has a bi-directional nature (Williams & Allinger, 1994). WLC
refers to a form of inter-role conflict in which the general demands of
time devoted to, and strain created by the job interfere with
44 MUŠURA, KORIČAN & KRAJNOVIĆ
performing family-related responsibilities; on the other hand, LWC
refers to a form of inter-role conflict in which the general demands of
time devoted to, and strain created by the family interfere with
performing work-related responsibilities (Netemeyer et al., 1996).
Work-life researchers have successfully encouraged
organizations, families, and individuals to recognize the importance of
tending to their needs for balance (Kreiner, Hollensbe & Sheep,
2009). Organizational leaders and managers generally tend to care
more about employees’ non-work needs than they did decades ago,
but struggles to balance work and life demands are still
commonplace in the modern organization (Kossek & Lambert, 2005).
SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION APPROACH AND THEORIES
Among different theoretical approaches and lenses, the most
appropriate in explaining work life conflict and relating variables is
the social construction approach. The social construction approach
contrasts other approaches that treat an individual as a passive
reactor to environmental conditions. This approach sees an individual
as an active agent in the “co-construction” of the world and
interacting with others in the environment (Kreiner, Hollensbe, &
Within this social construction tradition several theories persist
when explaining work-life conflict. Among the first theories was the
spill-over theory. In the late 1970s researchers showed that women
experienced spill-over from their family/life role into their work role
and men experienced spill- over from their work role to their
family/life role (Pleck, 1977). Staines (1980), with additional
research, concluded that spill-over effects from one segment in life to
another can have positive and negative effects. Additionally, the new
compensation theory was developed when Staines (1980) explained
that people compensate deficits in one aspect of life through
additional investments in other aspect of life.
A more contemporary theory was proposed by Greenhaus and
Bautell (1985) and further researched by Pickering (2006), who
discussed that an individual needs to perform different roles which
are differently demanding of their time, attention, and commitment to
perform, so conflicts occur. In other words, participation in one role
depletes the amount of resources from participation in another role
WORK-LIFE AND LIFE-WORK CONFLICTING CROATIAN COMPANIES: SOME PERSPECTIVES 45
(Mathis, Brown, & Randle, 2009). This theory was named work-life
conflict theory. The work-life conflict, earlier also called work-family
conflict, is a construct representing negative interdependencies
between work and life roles and has received considerable attention
in work-life literature (Barnett, 1998).
Personal Variables (External)
Most often researched variables in this area are the ones
connected with the participants’ external characteristics, such as
gender, family life, children, etc. Research shows that men are more
likely to work long hours of paid work, while women spend longer
hours in unpaid domestic work (OECD, 2011).Moreover, employed
women generally face more demands (from paid work, child care, and
housework) than do employed men (Doble & Supriya, 2010;
Robinson & Godbey, 1997). Multiple studies show that female
participants are more prone to perception of life-work conflict
(Obradović & Čudina-Obradović, 2009; Šverko, Arambašić, & Galešić,
2002; Wiersma & van der Berg, 1991). Contrasting to these results
some studies show no relation of gender and WLC or LWC (Ansari,
2011; Rice, Frone & McFarlin, 1992).
Children affect WL/LWC for male respondents (Obradović &
Čudina-Obradović, 2009) but also having children under the age of
18 is a predictor for WL/LWC for female respondents (Jelušić &
Maslić Seršić, 2005). Satisfaction with work-life time balance
decreases with the number of children living at home (OECD, 2011).
As in most of the previous studies, age and marital status were taken
as control variables (Baral & Bhargava, 2011; Powel & Greenhaus,
2010; Dobrotić & Laklija, 2009).
Work Variables (External)
With working in the company, less time and energy is left for other
roles or activities, such as leisure or family life. This, among other
things, can create conflict (Buck et al., 2000). Most of the studies
clearly show that there is a positive relationship between number of
weekly hours devoted to work and WL/LWC (Netemeyer et al., 1996;
Gutek et al., 1991).The larger number of working hours, stress at
work, and fear of losing one’s job are the best predictors of work-life
conflict (Dobrotić & Laklija, 2009).
46 MUŠURA, KORIČAN & KRAJNOVIĆ
To avoid conflict related to work and life, many companies have
introduced work life balance initiatives that include flexible working
arrangements; leave provisions, dependent care assistance and other
supportive programs (Smith & Gardner, 2007). Flexible work
arrangements and other policies are also thought to contribute to job
motivation and dedication (Brummelhuis & van der Lippe, 2010).
Researchers found several benefits of work-life balance for
employers. McDonald and Bradley (2005) listed some of them -
availability of broader talent pool, earlier return of employee to work
after maternal leave, lower rates of absenteeism, positive employer
branding, enhanced work- related performance, better employee
retention, and reduced employee turnover. In their research, Ford et
al. (2007) found several employee benefits like improved health of
employees, higher degrees of job satisfaction, job engagement, and
work productivity (Byrne, 2005). The use of WLB initiatives impacts
lower levels of WLC (Webber, Sarris & Bessell, 2010). Regardless of
the positive effects of WLB, large Croatian companies show low
understanding of the importance of WLC policies (Šverko et al.,
In their review of 190 work-family studies, Eby, Casper, Lockwood,
Bordeaux and Brinley (2005) found that most of the research
reviewed examined objective characteristics of one’s work and/or
family role. However, objective characteristics of one's roles (e.g.,
managerial status, parental status) are not likely to capture the
complexity of perception of these roles. Thus, a research gap was
found because few studies examined constructs beyond role
membership to more phenomenological rich constructs of role
involvement or role values.
Parker and Hall (1992) raised an assumption that perception of
self and core identity has not adequately been researched in the field
of work-life conflict or balance. Eby et al. (2005) also mentioned that
only a little predictive research has examined individual differences
such as perception and personality.
Personal Variables – Self-Related
According to Hsu (2011), the concept of locus of control was first
developed within Rotter’s framework of the social learning theory of
WORK-LIFE AND LIFE-WORK CONFLICTING CROATIAN COMPANIES: SOME PERSPECTIVES 47
personality during the 1950s. As a stable personality trait, locus of
control pertains to the common, cross-situational beliefs people hold
that determine whether they obtain positive or negative results in
their lives (Hsu, 2011). Those with strong internal locus of control
(internals) believe that they are entirely responsible for what happens
to them, and that their failures and successes are borne out of their
own efforts. In contrast, those possessing weak internal control
(externals) believe that destiny, chance, or other more powerful
factors determine their lives, and that their own efforts have an
insignificant impact on their failures or successes.
Previous studies showed that 5% to 25 % of the variance in a
person’s work behavior can be explained by locus of control (Spector,
1982). When confronted with obstacles, externals use less effort
because they believe that the results are already decided. They also
behave negatively and reactively.
With regards to the work-life conflict, research performed on 124
Malaysian employees showed that locus of control had a direct
impact on the work-life conflict (Noor, 2006). In a study conducted
among accountants, female externals reacted more negatively to
conflicts and were more likely to hand in their resignation (Reed,
Kratchman & Strawser, 1994). But, both studies showed different
levels of impact and different correlations with demographic
variables, so these relationships need to be researched further.
The conservation of resources model proposes that individuals
seek to acquire and maintain resources (Nikandrou, Panayotopoulou
& Apospori, 2008). Self-esteem is a personal characteristic
considered a resource which can buffer one against stress (Grandey
& Cropanzano, 1999). General self-esteem and generalized self-
efficacy are part of core self-evaluations, defined as the fundamental
premises individuals hold about themselves or the extent to which
individuals possess a positive self-concept (Beauregard, 2005).
Positive sense about self-worth can lead to more engagement,
efficiency, and effectiveness. Grandey and Cropanzano (1999) noted
that self-esteem is an important variable to be researched in the work
environment, and high self-esteem provides individuals with
psychological resources that help them cope with work- related issues
and enhances their performance (Nikrou, Panayotopoulou &
Apospori, 2008). This tendency towards making positive evaluations
48 MUŠURA, KORIČAN & KRAJNOVIĆ
of one’s contractual and social relationships, as well as to work
harder toward the achievement of desired goals, suggests that
individuals with high self-esteem will be less likely to report negative
outcomes, such as increased levels of work-home interference
(Beauregard, 2005). A number of studies found a negative correlation
between self-esteem and work-life conflict (Nikandrou,
Panayotopoulou & Apospori, 2008; Grandey & Cropanzano, 1999;
Mossholder, Bedeianand & Armenakis, 1981). These studies have
concluded that self-esteem has direct association to work and life
satisfaction, while a strong sense of self-worth leads to the ability to
overcome conflicts in work and life roles, as well and results in
greater success in managing these conflicts when they arise.
Personal Variables – Work-Related
Literature review and meta-analysis performed by Eby et al.
(2005) showed the lack of understanding of how perception of the
self and the work situation is impacting work-life conflict. So, the
connection of perception of work-related issues with work-life conflict
and life-work conflict needs to be researched deeper. One of these
variables is stress connected to work. Work stress has been for a long
time a popular topic in social research because of its social relevance
and possible implications for work organizations (Obradović & Čudina-
Obradović, 2009). Dipboye et al. (1994, p. 290) defined it as "any
circumstance that places special physical and/or psychological
demands on a person so that an unusual or out-of-the-ordinary
response occurs". Some meta-analytic studies have clearly pointed
out the significance of work stress as a predictor of work-family
conflict (Byron, 2005; Ford et al., 2007).
WLC and LWC in Croatia
During the socialist time in Croatia, only one study, which
emphasize more roles for female workers than male workers,
analyzed work-family conflict (Mihovilović, 1975). The topic was not
interesting to researchers due to the traditional value system which
emphasized family life as most important and deemphasized
everything else .For this reason most females stayed home to raise
children (Obradović & Čudina-Obradović, 2009).
With the new political system introduced in the early 1990s and
the privatization of companies, more rigorous work discipline, longer
WORK-LIFE AND LIFE-WORK CONFLICTING CROATIAN COMPANIES: SOME PERSPECTIVES 49
working hours, productivity and efficiency became more important.
Although the family is still the most important aspect of life for the
contemporary Croatian population, work is also starting to be very
important for both genders (Baloban & Črpić, 2000). Results of a
study conducted on 340 dual-career couples showed male
participants are more active in family life, and females in work
spheres, which causes life-to-work conflict to affect interrelations in
marriage (Obradović & Čudina-Obradović, 2009). Šverko et al. (2002)
surveyed Croatian companies and showed that WLB policies were still
not developed and that this field needs to be researched further. A
survey on nurses showed that balancing work and life is strongly
correlated with job satisfaction, and authors indicate that more
research needs to be conducted (Prizmić, Kaliterna Lipovčan, &
Burušić, 2009). Because of a small number of studies in the field of
WLC and LWC and changes in political system and work
arrangements, analyzing WLC and LWC becomes interesting.
Problem and Approach
In their meta-analysis, Eby et al. (2005) showed a lack of
understanding on how perception of self and the work situation is
impacting work-life conflict. Therefore, the problem of this research
was to explore work-life conflict constructs in relation to the set of
variables which were divided into work-related and personal-related
variables. Additionally we wanted to (a) determine correlates to work-
life balance constructs – work-life conflict (WLC), life-work conflict
(LWC) and combined construct work-life/life-work conflict (WL/LWC),
(b) determine groups of predictors that best explain the level of work-
life conflict constructs, and (c) analyze some of the individual
differences in relation to levels of work-life conflict constructs.
The variables or constructs that we examined in this study and
their logical research status are as follows: 1) Personal external (age,
gender, marital status, children); 2) Work external (years of current
employment, working hours, job position, company size); 3) Personal
internal (self-esteem, internal and external locus of control); 4) Work
internal (job satisfaction, employee control, work-related stress); and
5) WLB policies (flexible working hours, work from home, sport
facilities, childcare facilities). The four sets of variables have been
submitted to a hierarchical regression analysis. In this analysis, four
groups of variables were treated as predictors and the work/life
50 MUŠURA, KORIČAN & KRAJNOVIĆ
conflict (WL/LWC) and life/work conflict as criterion. Additionally, we
added another criterion construct, named work-life/life-work conflict
(WL/LWC) as an overall measure of conflict which arises from both
work-to-life and life-to-work conflict. We find it interesting to explore a
concept that combines work-to-life and life-to-work conflict as a
summated construct that can be seen as a general level of conflict
between areas of work and life. Frone, Russell and Cooper (1992)
showed that WLC and LWC are the two forms of inter-role conflict.
Using the same analogy, we assume that two types of conflicts
between work and life are not mutually exclusive, but can be mutually
In the present study, which is more exploratory in its nature, the
following hypotheses will be tested:
Hypothesis 1: Groups of variables are related to all conflict constructs
related to areas of work and life (WLC, LWC, WL/LWC).
Hypothesis 2: Groups of variables can be used as predictors of all
conflict constructs related to areas of work and life (WLC, LWC,
Participants and Procedure
Invitation to participate in the research was sent out to 2 000 e-
mail addresses from the Zagreb School of Economics and
Management database of individuals with whom ZSEM had some
kind of professional cooperation. The survey was built using
QuestionPro online software and the sent e-mail contained the
purpose of the research as well as the information about anonymity
of the respondents. The return rate was about 5% (N=107), and the
sample consisted of 39% males and 61% females of average age of
The survey consisted of 16 questions, 55 items and the following
scales: overall job satisfaction scale (Schneider et al., 2003), work-life
balance scale and life-work balance scale (Waumsley, Houston, &
Marks, 2010), self-esteem scale (Rosenberg, 1979), locus of control
WORK-LIFE AND LIFE-WORK CONFLICTING CROATIAN COMPANIES: SOME PERSPECTIVES 51
scale (Spector, 1988) and employee control scale (Allan et al., 2005).
All of the scale items were measured on a 1-5 Likert scale. The
overall job satisfaction scale had three items that accounted for 80%
of total variance (Cronbach alpha=0.875).
The work-life conflict scale consisted of two dimensions: work-life
conflict scale and life-work conflict scale. Although the overall scale
had good internal consistency (Cronbach alpha=0.832), factor
analysis revealed that two of the factors accounted for 62% of total
variance. The first factor was saturated with five items related to
WLC, and the second factor was saturated with five items that relate
to LWC. Internal consistency for the WLC scale was 0.879 and for
LWC scales 0.796. Rosenberg’s self-esteem scale revealed good
internal consistency (Cronbach alpha = 0.860) and two factors that
accounted for 51% of total variance (due to items worded
in opposite ways). The locus of control scale showed a two-
dimensional factor structure accounting for 64% of the total variance
and good internal consistency (external - Cronbach alpha=0.767,
internal – Cronbach alpha=0.842). The employee control scale
consisted of five items, and resulted in a one-factor structure with
53% of total variance explained and Cronbach alpha 0.779.
The work-related stressors scale represents external stressors
related to working conditions, job organization and relations to
colleagues, according to Ajduković and Ajduković (1996). The five
items of work-related stressors constitute one factor accounting for
56% variance explained. The overall scale has good internal
consistency (Crobach alpha=0.794). Satisfying levels of internal
consistency and clear factor structures of all the scales used in our
research gave us methodological justification to use average results
in further analysis.
In order to answer our research question that relates to
identifying correlates to concepts of work-life and life-work conflicts,
regression analysis was used. We first examined correlation
coefficients between all of the variables and constructs used.
Correlation between WLC and LWC is significantly positive and
moderate in size (Table 1). Also, WL/LWC construct is more
correlated to WLC scores (r=0.890, p<0,01). Results of the WLC scale
52 MUŠURA, KORIČAN & KRAJNOVIĆ
are significantly higher than those of the LWC score (t=11.390,
p<0.001) explaining that participants have more transference of
problems from work-to-life than life-to-work.
Means, Standard Deviations and Intercorrelations for the WLC
1. WLC 2.92
2. LWC 1.70
Notes: *p<0.05; **p<0.01.
Since we had summated variable WL/LWC as an average score
made of WLC and LWC average scores, we took a look at the
correlation coefficients between our criterion variable(s) and groups
of predictors. Personal variables that relate to demographics have no
significant correlation with the work-life conflict concepts (Table 2).
Reason for this could be that the sample of respondents was not big
and diversified enough. WLC is significantly positively correlated with
number of working hours (r=0.356, p<0.01) and level of stress
caused by work elements (r=0.424, p<0.01) and significantly
negatively correlated with job satisfaction (r=-0.201, p<0.05). On the
other side, LWC is only significantly correlated with possibility of
working from home (r=0.257, p<0.01) and self-esteem (r=-0.191,
Personal - external
Marital status -0.063
WORK-LIFE AND LIFE-WORK CONFLICTING CROATIAN COMPANIES: SOME PERSPECTIVES 53
TABLE 2 (Continued)
Work – external
Current employment (yr)
Working hours .356**
Job position -.010
Company size -.034
Flexible working hours
Work from home .129
Sport facilities -.062
Childcare facilities .176
Personal - internal
Internal LC -.063
External LC .094
Work - internal
Job satisfaction -.201*
Employee control -.080
Work-related stress .424**
Notes: *p<0.05; **p<0.01.
As shown in Table 2 some significant relationships with WL/LWC
concept were found as well. Positive correlations were found with
level of work stress (r=0.331, p<0.01), number of working hours
(r=0.215, p<0.05), possibility to work from home (r=0,220, p<0.05),
having child care facilities near work (r=0.214, p<0.05) and negative
correlation with level of self-esteem (r=-0.210, p<0.05). Since this
research is mostly exploratory in nature, the number and size of
correlations and intercorrelations among items found were used to
assess the order in which the groups of variables will enter our
hierarchical regression (Table 3). They were as follows: WLB policies,
work – internal variables, work – external variables, personal –
internal and last personal – external.
To examine the predictive power of our group of variables, first we
conducted stepwise regression analysis to predict WLC and LWC.
54 MUŠURA, KORIČAN & KRAJNOVIĆ
Variables with significant correlations entered the analysis which
resulted in a total of 36.5% of WLC variance explained (Table 3).
Stepwise Regression Analysis Predicting WLC
Model R R Square
1 .427a .182
2 .535b .286
3 .575c .330
4 .606d .367
5 .629e .395
Notes: a. Predictors: Work-related stress; b. Predictors: Work-related stress,
working hours; c. Predictors: Work-related stress, working hours, job
satisfaction; d. Predictors: Work-related stress, working hours, job
satisfaction, possibility to work from home; e. Predictors: Work-related
stress, working hours, job satisfaction, possibility to work from home,
flexible working hours.
Significant predictors that were left in the analysis after 5 steps
were level of work-related stress, number of working hours, job
satisfaction, the possibility to work from home, and flexible working
hours (Table 4).
To better understand what predicts levels of LWC, we conducted
stepwise regression analysis with all variables used in the research
Work-related stress 0.447**
Working hours 0.283**
Job satisfaction -0.298**
Possibility to work from home
Flexible working hours
Notes: *p<0.05; **p<0.01.
WORK-LIFE AND LIFE-WORK CONFLICTING CROATIAN COMPANIES: SOME PERSPECTIVES 55
entered together. The regression left only one variable, possibility to
work from home, that explained 5.8% of variance (R=0.258; R2=
0.067; F=7.356; p<0.01; β=0.258; p<0.05). Since we found that
LWC is less predictive with the set of our variables and minding the
fact that WLC contributes more to the concept of WL/LWC,
hierarchical regression is used to determine predictors to construct of
For each of the variable groups, we determined the coefficient of
multiple correlations (R), the population estimate of R (R2), and the
amount of variance additionally explained by each group of variables
entered. From these data, we can conclude that only WLB policies, as
well as work-related internal variables, account for significant R
meaning and help explain 29% of variance of WL/LWC in total (Table
5). External work factors together with both personal internal and
external factors do not contribute significantly to WL/LWC variance
although self-esteem is negatively related to the level of WL/LWC (β=-
Results of Hierarchical Multiple Regression Analysis Predicting
Variables and their β values Model 1
Flexible working hours .123
Work at home .190*
Sport facilities -.120
Children care facilities .247*
Work - internal
Work - external
Current employment (years)
Personal – self-related
Internal LC .045
External LC -.049
56 MUŠURA, KORIČAN & KRAJNOVIĆ
TABLE 5 (Continued)
Variables and their β values Model 1
Personal – work-related
Marital status -.055
Multiple R 0.35
Adjusted R2 0.09
Adjusted R2 change 0.12*
Notes: *p<0.05; **p<0.01. To test multicollinearity, variance inflation factor (VIF) was
calculated for every predictor variable. Values above 5 indicate high
multicollinearity. Therefore, we excluded the variable “age” because of its high
correlation to years of employment.
Model 5 shows that WLB policies that contribute to WL/LWC
significantly are flexible working hours and possibility of working from
home. Significant predictors related to internal work factors are level
of stress caused by work stressors (β=0.356, p<0.01) and level of job
satisfaction (β=-0.254, p<0.05). Further exploring of individual
differences in relation to WL/LWC constructs following some of the
previous research, we examined the differences between genders
using ANOVA (Table 6).
The only significant difference is found in the LWC score, meaning
that men are more prone to the issue of “home” life affecting work
life then women. Although this found difference is only approaching
acceptable levels of statistical significance, we will consider it as a
result worth mentioning.
Comparison of Male and Female Average Scores across Work-Life
Balance Constructs (ANOVA)
Male 2.83 (sd =
Female 2.97 (sd =
F 0.446 3.774*
Notes: *p<0.05; **p<0.01.
WORK-LIFE AND LIFE-WORK CONFLICTING CROATIAN COMPANIES: SOME PERSPECTIVES 57
For the variable that contributes most to our work- and life-conflict
constructs - work-related stressors -, we ran a stepwise regression to
answer the question about which exact item contributes the most to
the WL/LWC. Although all of the used stressors correlate highly and
significantly between themselves (Table 7), the stressor that is the
most significant and responsible for 14% of the explained variance of
WL/LWC is the large number of working hours (Table 8).
Comparison of Correlation/Inter-correlation Coefficients between
WL/LWC and Work-Related Stressors
1. Large number of
2. High work load .350**
3. Complexity of work .164
4. High responsibility .214*
5. Relationships at work .116
Notes: *p<0.05; **p<0.01.; VIF for all variables used was less than 5.
Stepwise Regression Analysis Predicting WL/LWC Using Individual
Model R R
1 .384a .148 .139
Notes: a Predictor: Large number or working hours (β=0.384. p=0.000).
Correlations between WL/LWC and each of its dimensions show
that WL/LWC is more determined by WLC and less by LWC (Table 1).
Results show that work responsibilities and duties affect us privately
more than other way around. When comparing these results to
previous research on work-to-life and life-to-work conflict in Croatia,
58 MUŠURA, KORIČAN & KRAJNOVIĆ
results found in our research go in the same direction (Šverko et al.,
2002). Šverko et al. (2002) found that mean for WLC is M = 1.9 (sd =
0.63) and for LWC M = 1.5 (sd = 0.43) contributing to 1.3 ratio of
WLC to LWC score. In our research, the data showed that participants
are more influenced with the work-life conflict creating a 1.7 ratio of
WLC vs. LWC.
As well as in the work of Šverko et al. (2002), where the
correlation between WLC and working hours is r=0,33 (p<0.01), it is
justified to conclude that working more hours a week contributes to
the higher level of conflict that arises from work, contributing also to
job dissatisfaction and more work-related stress. In our sample, we
found that 52% work on average 8 to 9 hours per day and 28% of
participants work 9 and more hours per day, 45 and more hours per
week. Participants that hold managerial positions are working
significantly more. Where about 20% of participants in non-
managerial positions work 9 or more hours per day, 44% of
managerial position participants work the same. The difference found
in these frequencies is statistically significant (Chi square = 7.830, df
= 2, p = 0.020). These results are similar to the results of Šverko et
al. (2002), who found that 75% of their sample work more than 40
hours which is the official Croatian working week.
It is interesting to see that participants that have the possibility to
work from home have a statistically higher level of life-work
imbalance (r= 0.257, p<0.01). Although it might seem that working
from home relaxes one’s attitude and relationship to work, we found
such a relationship points to the conclusion that working from home
contributes to a spillover effect of “life” issues to work issues.
Bringing work home leads to more life-to-work stress.
Also, we found a small negative, but significant, interaction
between the level of LWC and self-esteem (r=-0.191, p<0.05). The
higher the level of self-esteem, the lower the level of LWC will be; and
vice versa. It could be that having lower self-esteem causes an
inability to be assertive in private life1 and consequently suffering
more privately, thus affecting the work. Or it could be that an inability
to balance private life leads to a decreased sense of one’s own worth.
Consistent with the assumptions about high self-esteem individuals
being more resilient to stress, this self-related variable is relevantly
correlated to the level of stress caused by an imbalance of work and
WORK-LIFE AND LIFE-WORK CONFLICTING CROATIAN COMPANIES: SOME PERSPECTIVES 59
Finally, a work-life construct (WL/LWC) that combines both WLC
and LWC meaning the level of general inability to balance work and
life issues is positively and significantly correlated to the number of
working hours, working from home, level of stress caused by work
elements, and negatively with the level of self-esteem. The highest
correlation found was to work-related stress (r=0.331, p<0.01) more
probably meaning that stress coming from work affects imbalance
coming from work-to-life more than the other way around. When
taking a closer look at the specific work stressors that relate to
overall WL/LWC (Table 8), we can see that the highest correlation to
WL/LWC comes from a large number of working hours. Stepwise
regression analysis revealed that only a large number of working
hours is a significant predictor to the level of WL/LWC, explaining
14% of total WL/LWC variance (Table 9). The large number of working
hours reflects a high complexity of work and a high workload, as well
as a high level of work responsibility. For relationships at work,
although it has no significant correlation with WL/LWC, looking at the
highest correlation with the high workload (r=0.405, p<0.01) we
could argue that having a high workload makes relationships at work
hard to maintain at a “healthy” level, making them additional source
WLB policies and internal work factors showed to be the best
predictors of the level of WL/LWC, explaining 25% of total variance in
the hierarchical regression (Table 5). Flexible working hours and
working from home are most predictive for the spillover of work-to-life
and the presence of the WL/LWC, which is also more present with
those participants who have a perception of the higher levels of
stress and lower job satisfaction.
It is interesting that none of the personal internal and external
variables, except for self-esteem, contribute to predicting of WL/LWC.
This leads to one possible explanation that personal factors are not
directly connected to work-life constructs, but can serve as
mediator/moderator variables that strengthen some of the
relationships. Other possible reasons could be explained by the
sample size and sample homogeneity. External locus of control is
negatively correlated to job position, which means that individuals
that have higher external locus of control are more prone to end up in
the non-managerial job positions. This is logical, since people who
think that “being lucky” determines their career will probably not
60 MUŠURA, KORIČAN & KRAJNOVIĆ
aspire to better job positions. Having a managerial position is related
to working longer hours and thus being susceptible to work-life
A higher level of work-related stress and working hours, the
possibility of working from home and flexible working hours, along
with job dissatisfaction, predict higher levels of work-life imbalance.
Long working hours and work-related stress are the strongest
predictors that significantly contribute to an adverse affect that we
call work-life imbalance. On the other side, private life that spills over
to one’s work life is only predicted by a possibility of working from
home. It turns out that working from home predicts both WLC and
LWC. In working from home situations, it seems that private life and
work life mix together, thus creating an unfavorable atmosphere for
productive work, as well as a difficulty to manage private life while
working at the same place. Maybe the physical separateness is
actually a factor that contributes to psychological separateness
between work and private life, so when coming to “work” we literally
“leave” our private problems at home. It is the question then whether
Croatian companies or Croatian workers use WLB policies
appropriately since the results show that some WLB policies do not
help in balancing work and life. Although home working can have
such benefits like more flexibility and independence, it can erase the
thin line between work and life, making people work more beyond
regular working hours. According to Valcour and Hunter (2005), home
working could be stressful if young children have to be managed.
Further research is needed to analyze sources of these problems.
When it comes to gender, some studies show no difference in
proneness to work-life imbalance (Doble & Supriya, 2010); others
show that men are more prone to be affected by a higher level of life-
work imbalance than women (Gunkel, 2007), and some show more
work-to life-conflict among women (Obradović & Čudina-Obradović,
2009; Šverko et al., 2002). Results of our analysis are more aligned
with the second line of research where men suffer more from life-
work imbalance. We could reason that women already have
expectations about balancing their “home”, and thus have less
imbalanced life-to-work then men do. Men, on the other side, might
have unrealistic expectations about the impact of life-to-work, making
it more difficult to handle. It seems that men are more sensitive to-
life-to work imbalance. This result might be interpreted in terms of
WORK-LIFE AND LIFE-WORK CONFLICTING CROATIAN COMPANIES: SOME PERSPECTIVES 61
role changes. Today’s women are more work-oriented than before
and men are more household-oriented, therefore, it could be possible
that the “new” men role causes them more stress and conflict than it
does to women (McElwain et al., 2005). Additionally, it seems that
men appear to benefit more from organizations that support work-life
balance (Burke, 2002).Because the extant literature shows mixed
results, more research is needed to clarify gender issues.
In answer to our hypotheses, it seems that work- and life-conflict
constructs used in this research show more association to work-
related variables than to personal variables. Variance of our
summated construct of WL/LWC can be explained up to 29% using
predictor variables. In a narrow perspective, the single best predictor
of overall level of conflict caused by managing work and life duties is
the variable “work-related stress”. Among traits that constitute this
variable, the large number of working hours represents the critical
point. The more a person works the more conflict he or she
experiences. In addition, work-related stress is also the single best
predictor of conflict created by the work-to-life area. When it comes to
life-to-work conflict, the significant predictor is the ability to work from
home, which evidently causes a person to experience more conflict
that spills over from life to work do. Among personal variables, self-
esteem is significantly associated with the WL/LWC concept
indicating that, as it is assumed, individuals with high self-esteem
display lower levers of overall work-life and life-work conflict.
The present study has several limitations that should be noted.
First limitation is the relatively small number of participants and
procedure of the sample collection (online survey). The sample
number and collection method did not permit generalization, but only
served as indicators of possible relationships. Another limitation of
the study was that all the data was collected by self-report measures,
which may lead to biased results. Finally, in our research, personal
factors contribute less or not at all to WLC constructs compared to
work-related factors. It seems that these factors serve more as
mediator/moderator variables that change or influence how a person
relates to the work environment. Further research is needed to
examine in more detail the effects of personal factors and individual
differences on WLC and LWC constructs.
62 MUŠURA, KORIČAN & KRAJNOVIĆ
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