Achieving work-life balance may be more important to your job than previously thought, according to new research. In fact, it appears to have a significant impact on how safe you are at work, new research shows.
The University of Georgia (UGA) study found that actions taken or not taken at the organizational level, such as instilling policies that make employees feel like they are safe, can either set the stage for injuries or help prevent them.
Based on data from the 2002 General Social Survey and the Quality of Work Life module from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, the research shows that the risk of injury climbs 37 percent for employees whose work interferes with family life or whose family demands affect job performance.
"We used to think work was one thing and family was another, but now there is a realization that work-life balance affects performance and productivity," said Dave DeJoy, a University of Georgia professor of health promotion and behavior and one of the study’s authors. "The results don't really tell us much about why, though."
While DeJoy hypothesizes it's due to things such as fatigue, distraction and stress, he said more research must be done to determine the exact reasons behind the added risk of injuries.
The study also shows that perception can be reality. The research showed that employees who perceive their workplace as safe decrease their likelihood of injury by 32 percent.
While some occupations clearly carry a higher risk of injury, DeJoy said the study examined a diverse sample of occupations and worker groups — from offices to factories — to reach their conclusions.
"It shows that these factors are important across the board," DeJoy told BusinessNewsDaily. "A message to employers is that these factors are important, even if a business isn't considered to be high-risk."
The research also shows businesses that workplace injuries are likely to be prompted by something up the line at the organizational level, DeJoy said.
Knowing this, he said managers shouldn't always be so quick to blame the injured employee for the situation.
"You need to look at yourself and ask, 'What am I doing at the organizational level to contribute to this problem?'" DeJoy said.
The study, co-authored by Todd Smith, a recent graduate of the Health Promotion and Behavior doctoral program in the UGA College of Public Health, will be published in the March issue of the Journal of Safety Research.
Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has worked in public relations and spent 10 years working as a newspaper reporter and now works as a freelance business and technology reporter. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cbrooks76.