Pioneering productive and paragoned places of work : a convergent mixed methods approach to demarcating work-life imbalance through overextension among human resources professionals in the United States.


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Work-life balance (WLB) is a common buzzword constituting today’s corporate people operations strategies in organizations. The scope and sourcing of WLB, along with the consequences of imbalance, have been studied extensively, particularly in the past decade among varying business, health, and education fields (Adame-Sánchez et al., 2016; Casper et al., 2018; Cegarra-Leiva et al., 2012; De Clercq et al., 2019; Dhingra & Dhingra, 2021; Gashi et al., 2021; Irfan et al., 2021). However, not much is known about the state of WLB for individuals working in human resources (HR). This research offers a conceptual framework that links HR streamlining and performance standards (antecedents) to overextension through working hours (behavior) and further connects to employee-level and employer-level repercussions (consequences). The research methodology was convergent mixed methods, utilizing a QUAN + QUAL notation system. I conducted a parametric multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) of average working hours on 49 purposively and convenience-selected HR professionals working in the United States. I measured WLB by combining MBI and AWS scales. Independent variable groups of average working hours constituted 40 & under, 41–50, and 51+ measured along the nine subscales (three MBI and six AWS). The qualitative phase consisted of semi-structured interviews, analyzed using Tesch’s (1990) eight steps. Quantitative results demonstrated that 81.5% of HR professionals reported working more than 40 hours per week on average. A one-way MANOVA established a statistically significant difference between the three groups of working hours (40 & under, 41–50, and 51+) p = .017 with a large effect size (n2 = .325). The AWS workload subscale revealed a statistically significant difference comparing the means of the 40 & under group to the 41–50 and the 51+ groups p < .001. Qualitative findings comprised six themes: underleveraged HR team size; defining and maintaining WLB; defining, sourcing, and preventing burnout; overextension; work-life spillover; and consequences of burnout and compromised WLB. Support ratio results demonstrated, on average, HR staffing to employees resembles 1:583. Implications for WLB and overextension take root in organizational structure and staffing ratio by impacting turnover, absenteeism, and productivity.