We have witnessed what is undoubtedly one of the most important socio-demographic changes in the labor force in the post-industrial era: women have entered the labor force on a massive scale.
One of the consequences of this socio-demographic shift is an increase in work-family conflict. This conflict does not only affect working women, who continue to bear the main responsibility of taking care of the family, even in countries where gender equality is significantly supported, but also men, who are increasingly involved in family work. Moreover, issues faced by dual career couples are exacerbated by current employment trends in Europe, including greater professional demands and shifting psychological contracts. This trend of increasing conflicts between work and family, like any major change, causes friction at many different levels of society. Some of the consequences can even be called alarming.
- At the societal level we observe low birth rates, due to women’s strong orientation towards employment, lack of adequate work-family arrangements, and unstable job conditions for younger generations. We also observe high divorce rates. Consequences for children are difficult to estimate, but it is clear that leaving education in the hands of television and caretakers may have detrimental effects.
- At the organizational level, we see difficulties in the recruitment of key employees, turnover, lack of mobility, absenteeism, and problems with expatriates and multinational careers.
- At the individual level, employees report career interruptions, work-family conflicts, and strain.
In summary, it is time that initiatives are taken to adapt legislation and policies, both at governmental and organizational level, to address these important shifts in society.