Mediating Effect of Work-life Balance on Work Motivation of Post-graduate Trainee Doctors in Public Sector Hospitals: Evidence From Pakistan



Most of the studies have elaborated the antecedents and outcomes of Work-Life Balance (WLB). However, the current research explores the possible role of Work-Life Balance as a mediating variable in a sample of doctors of public sector of Pakistan. This study evaluates the effect of various job related factors such as supervisor support, organizational support and job value on the WLB of post graduate trainees of public hospitals. Furthermore, it sheds light on the mediating behavior of WLB between the job factors and motivation to work. The conclusion and information extracted from this cross-sectional study could help the policy makers and the government to design and develop strategies that would enhance WLB and work motivation of the doctors.

The results confirmed that the job related factors were positively associated with WLB and the control variables; marital status and number of children, did not have any significant association with WLB. Furthermore, the results from stepwise linear regression established the partial mediating role of WLB between the job related factors and work motivation.

Keywords: Work life balance, Supervisor support, Organizational support, Job value, Work motivation


    One cannot assume that employment experiences are universal. Economic, sociopolitical and cultural factors, education systems and family structures will have an effect on individual’s experiences in the workplace, on the centrality of work in people’s lives, on how work and family responsibilities are negotiated and how childcare responsibilities are divided.

    Globalization, increased competition, changes in family structure and the working conditions affect the individuals and their workplace experiences, and also their private and social life experiences (Kramer and Syed, 2012; Ollier-Malaterre, 2010; Jang, 2009; Carlson et al., 2009). With an increase in the competition and hence in the technological advancements, the organizations have become far more competitive. This makes these organizations much more agile, flexible and focused on the needs of the customer. And to fulfill that organizations require empowered employees who are forced to devote most of their time at work. But self-development and fulfilment of family responsibilities are imperative for an individual (Poulose, 2014). As these challenges have emerged through the passage of time, voice for advancing human rights such as the right to ‘decent work’ has also gained importance.

    As part of the initiatives and purposes of the International Labour Organization (ILO), there is an objective that employees should be provided with decent and productive work in which they are allowed freedom and equity along with security and human dignity. These objectives have been effective since 1999 (ILO, 1999, p.3). Decent work is an important objective in itself, however it is believed that the decent work can prove to be a major contributor in the sustainable development. It is a major element of the quality of life and ‘balancing work and family life’ is considered to be a significant indicator of decent work (Anker, Chernyshev, Egger, Mehran, and Ritter, 2003). It has been suggested that to keep an employee satisfied, dedicated and motivated towards his/her job, there should be a balance between the work life and his family life (Poulose, 2014).



    The term ‘balance’ often carries different connotations as it implies different life experiences. The term ‘balance’ assumes that there exists a tradeoff between work and life of an employee. On the contrary, these two concepts overlap with each other and the actual problem of distress emerges because of lack of demarcation between these two concepts (Taylor, 2002).

    The concept of WLB emerged because of the increasing female workforce who required family friendly policies but this concept is equally valid and applicable for the men who strive really hard to balance work and personal demands (Clarke and O’Brien, 2003). WLB can be conceptualized as the difference of rewards and concerns and attaining a sense of harmony and coherence in life (Clarke et al., 2004). It is the “satisfaction and good functioning at work and home, with a minimum of role conflict” (Clark, 2000). When the resources of work and family are sufficient to meet the requirements and demands of the family, the work and life of an employee are said to be balanced and thus enables the worker to remain satisfied within the both domains (Voydanoff, 2005). A balanced work and life guarantees psychological wellbeing, satisfaction and overall synchronization in life (Clark et al., 2004; Clark, 2000).

    Two hypothesis namely conflict hypothesis and enhancement hypothesis had been proposed to explain the phenomenon of WLB. Conflict hypothesis suggests that because of the limited and scarce resources, numerous roles with inconsistent demands cause a strain and conflict for the individuals (Goode, 1960). The enhancement hypothesis, states that multiple and incompatible roles and responsibilities offer benefits in the form of privilege, rank, safety and security and individual growth which in turn magnifies the individual means and resources and expedite role performance. The latter hypothesis is supported by other authors, such as Marks (1997) and Sieber (1974).

    The factors influencing WLB have been classified as individual, organizational and societal factors (Paulose, 2014). Demographic factors like working hours, provision of social security, flexible working environment has been associated with WLB (MacInnes, 2006; Smithson and Stoke, 2005; Dex and Bond, 2005; Hardy and Adnett, 2002). Furthermore, a balance between work and life is associated with the employees’ satisfaction and motivation in their jobs (Mahya and Jaim, 2014). And the imbalance in work and family life is said to be a potential source of turnover, absenteeism and lack of productivity (Greenhause et al., 2003). According to Voydanoff (2005) work and life of an employee are balanced when the resources of work and family are sufficient to meet the demands of family and work hence enabling the worker to remain satisfied with both the domains (Voydanoff, 2005).


    According to Hopkins (2005), the employee feels much more integrated and dedicated with the job and the organization where there is presence of supervisory support. Supervisors play an important role in changing the level of professional stress, moral exhaustion and fatigue. They can help in maintaining WLB or their undue criticism inversely affects WLB (Fathimaand Sahibzada, 2012). In the organizations where there has not been established any policy regarding the balancing of work and lives of the employees, it is mandatory that the supervisors help their subordinates in maintaining their life and work balance. The perception about the presence of supervisor support and organizational support at large develops a feeling or recognition in the employees and thus enhances the job satisfaction (Jang, 2009; Thompson, Kirk and Brown, 2005; Stamper and Johlke, 2003).

    Fathima and Sahibzada (2012) also identified colleague support and job resources i.e. availability of adequate resources at work, to be positively related with the WLB while undue criticism at the workplace inversely affects WLB. Organizational support in the form of existence and extent of implementation of supportive rules and policies might be relevant in the context of doctors. Employee commitment to the organization gets promoted in the presence of balance in work and life of the organization as provided by the organization as per suggested by the organizational support theory (Smith, 2005). Therefore, the study intends to validate the following hypothesis:

    H1: Supervisor Support is positively associated with WLB.

    H2: Organizational Support is positively associated with WLB.


    The value of job and the relationship of job value with work-life balance as studied by (Smith, 2005) is under-specified in the context of doctors. One of the studies done on public child welfare workers showed that job value is significantly associated with the balance in work and life. It could be because of the reason that helping the needy and deserving children and families gives a sense of fulfillment and thus facilitates in striking a balance between the job of a child welfare worker and personal life even if the working conditions are not that amiable (Wu, Rusyidi, Claiborne, and McCarthy, 2013).

    The work values have effect on the work experience of individuals because of the subjectivity involved in the nature of the work experience (Miller, 1980). It has also been found to have effect on the decision of job choice (Judge andBretz, 1992). So the following hypothesis can be safely derived.

    H3: Job Value is positively associated with WLB.


    The variables such as the gender of the subjects, age and their locality of residence has been studied as control variables by various researchers (Lambert et al.,2006; McGowan, Auerbach, and Strolin-Goltzman, 2009). It has been emphasized that gender is greatly related with the balance in work and life of the employees (Connell, 2005; Lewis, 2003; Lewis and Campbell, 2008; Mescher et al., 2010; Moen and Yu,2000). Also as the workers grow older, their children grow older too and hence they have fewer responsibilities at home and in their personal lives as compared to those workers who are relatively younger and have younger dependents. It can hence be assumed that the increase in age causes increase in the balance of work and life.

    Furthermore, it has also been observed through study that trainees...

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