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Work-life balance for men out of kilter

USQ academic Dr Erich Fein specialises in occupational and organisational psychology.

The work-life balance for men deserves greater attention from individuals, companies and governments, according to USQ academic Dr Erich Fein.

As a specialist in occupational and organisational psychology, Dr Fein said while the work-life balance for women was receiving considerable attention, aspects of work-life balance particularly salient to men called for more research.

“Mobile phones mean people are available 24/7 for calls and emails, and having proper respite in your time off means people shouldn’t always be responding to those, or be expected to by their employer,” Dr Fein said.

Dr Fein said people who involved themselves with community, family and social interaction were more likely to be happier, healthier and more effective overall.

“That can mean catching up with friends, or being involved with cultural, or recreational groups — they can all provide scaffolding for us outside the workplace,” he said.

Dr Fein said he believed an effective work-life balance was ultimately the responsibility of the individual, but legislation could help.

“That goes particularly for men, because for women, the issue is already being addressed in many ways, such as long-term paid parental leave,” he said.

Prior to becoming an academic, Dr Fein worked in United States’ military assessment centres.

He said personnel who had strong cultural and religious ties, as well as other interests and hobbies outside worked better in managing work and life conflicts than those who did not.

“They gave themselves a chance to refresh and recuperate,” he said.

Dr Fein said a sense of corporate responsibility, combined with an increased understanding for men that broad definitions of performance, beyond just financial performance, are critical for long-term success, and could well be the path to an improved work-life balance.

“Working more than 40 hours a week isn’t going to necessarily hurt people, but not having time in your life when you have complete respite from your work will,” he said.

“At the end of the day, it’s the responsibility of individuals, but governments and organisations can help or hinder how they exercise that responsibility.

“The price you may pay is lower work-specific rewards, such as not being the highest paid in your field, but you can still do quality work.”

Dr Fein said part of the battle for men to achieve a better work-life balance is encouraging them to adopt health-inducing behaviours.

“This could mean taking the time to cook and exercise, socialising more frequently, taking up or pursuing a hobby, or increasing commitment to family, religious and cultural groups, or community,” he said.

To learn more about studying psychology at USQ, visit