Exploring work-family backlash in a public organisation

Jarrod M. Haar, Chester S. Spell, Michael P. O'Driscoll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Purpose - This study aims to test the belief that work-family practices could have a negative influence in the workplace for non-users of these practices. Design/methodology/approach - A quantitative approach was undertaken, where users and non-users of work-family practices reported on a number of job-related attitudes. Organisational justice theories suggest that employees will report lower attitudes if they feel that they are missing out on some benefit or practice. T-tests were used to compare differences in these attitudes between users and non-users. Findings - There were no significant differences in any of the examined attitudes between users and non-users of the organisations' work-family practices. Research limitations/implications - Implications are that firms should not necessarily decline the adoption of work-family practices if they fear a "backlash" from their employees who would not use work-family practices. The authors suggest that the social good these practices may provide might remove any negative feelings towards the organisation by employees who cannot use these practices. Practical implications - Practical implications for public sector organisations might be offering work-family practices that target the widest array of employees. Further, future research into work-family backlash should compare actual users of multiple practices as explored here. Originality/value - This is one of the few papers to explore users and non-users of multiple work-family practices. It confirms previous research into work-family backlash, indicating that the non-users are not adversely affected by work-family practices that they do not or cannot use. However, unlike other studies, this paper explored the use of multiple work-family practices, providing stronger and more realistic findings for managers to have confidence in their work-family practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)604-614
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Public Sector Management
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Public Administration
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


  • Employee turnover
  • Family
  • Job satisfaction
  • Quality of life


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