Background: In international studies on the interface and interplay of paid work and personal life, the concept of work-family conflict appears as a decisive correlate of various health problems. However, due the common narrow focus on the core family a large segment of the working population is ignored in these studies and in fact excluded from research. Second, mostly the negative aspects at the interface of work and personal life are investigated whereas the positive, enriching aspects are mostly neglected. In search of specific activities or roles which are able to enrich someone’s life and, therefore, to increase the probability to live a life in balance we consider volunteering as highly relevant due to its unique characteristics as a source of positive feelings and states. Also volunteering is an area of growing social and scientific interest. However, even tough volunteering touches on genuinely psychological issues, psychology has had less impact on volunteering than other social sciences.
Aims: This project is targeted on the combination of these two to date independently investigated research areas: (1) the interface and interplay of paid work and personal life and (2) volunteering. Thereby the project follows and integrates two perspectives: first, the research on work-life balance (and health) should be enlarged by the topic of volunteering and, second, the research on volunteering should be enlarged by the topics of work-life balance and health. We want to investigate whether volunteering is a psychosocial resource, i.e., whether it is able to positively affect someone’s work-life balance and health. We assume that voluntary active people can benefit from their additional role since it is a source of self-esteem or optimism which empowers people to manage their different demands of paid work and personal life and, moreover, has a positive influence on their physical, mental and social health.
Relevance: The project promises unique practical and theoretical relevance since the project contributes to the better understanding of the relationships between (1) work-life balance and volunteering, (2) volunteering and health and (3) the influence of volunteering on the relationship of work-life balance and health. Moreover, from a practical perspective findings can deliver approaches for intervention as well as for prevention concerning work-life balance and health.