Project

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Volunteering as a psychosocial resource concerning work-life balance and health

Applicant Hämmig Oliver
Number 135411
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Institut für Epidemiologie, Biostatistik und Prävention Universität Zürich
Institution of higher education ETH Zurich - ETHZ
Main discipline Psychology
Start/End 01.03.2012 - 31.10.2013
Approved amount 107'477.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Psychology
Mental Disorders, Psychosomatic Diseases

Keywords (5)

Work-life balance; Life domain balance; Volunteering; Voluntary work; Health

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary

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.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Exploring the Interaction Between Volunteering Status, Paid Job Characteristics and Quality of Volunteers’ Motivation on Mental Health
Ramos Romualdo, Güntert Stefan, Brauchli Rebecca, Bauer Georg, Wehner Theo, Hämmig Oliver (2016), Exploring the Interaction Between Volunteering Status, Paid Job Characteristics and Quality of Volunteers’ Motivation on Mental Health, in VOLUNTAS: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, 27(2), 790-809.
Busy yet socially engaged: volunteering, work-life balance, and health in the working population.
Ramos Romualdo, Brauchli Rebecca, Bauer Georg, Wehner Theo, Hämmig Oliver (2015), Busy yet socially engaged: volunteering, work-life balance, and health in the working population., in Journal of occupational and environmental medicine / American College of Occupational and Environmen, 57(2), 164-72.
Hält Freiwilligenarbeit gesund? Erklärungsansätze und kontextuelle Faktoren
Ramos Romualdo, Wehner Theo (2015), Hält Freiwilligenarbeit gesund? Erklärungsansätze und kontextuelle Faktoren, in Wehner Theo (ed.), Springer Verlag, Berlin / Heidelberg, 109-127.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Universités Lausanne et Genève (Prof. Dr. B. Danuser) Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
University of Zurich, ETH Zurich (PD Dr. med. G. Bauer DrPH) Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
European Academy of Occupational Health Psychology Conference Talk given at a conference Busy yet socially engaged: Volunteering, work-life balance and health in the working population 14.04.2014 London, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Ramos Romualdo; Brauchli Rebecca;
Changes in working Life Talk given at a conference When working more is better: the role of volunteering on work-life balance perceptions and health 17.07.2013 Stockholm, Sweden Brauchli Rebecca; Wehner Theo; Hämmig Oliver; Ramos Romualdo;
Work Stress and Health Conference Talk given at a conference Beyond paid work: Volunteering as a psychosocial resource concerning work-life balance and health 17.05.2013 Los Angeles, United States of America Ramos Romualdo; Wehner Theo; Brauchli Rebecca; Hämmig Oliver;


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Media relations: radio, television Freiwilligenarbeit & Work-life balance SRF German-speaking Switzerland 2015
Media relations: print media, online media Paradox der Freiwilligenarbeit NZZ German-speaking Switzerland 2015
Media relations: print media, online media Volunteering Surprisingly Makes You Feel Like You Have More Free Time Huffington Post (US Edition) International 2015

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
100725 Ursachen und Wirkungen von Work-Life Conflicts. Eine Untersuchung anhand der Daten des Schweizerischen Haushaltpanels (SHP) 01.01.2003 Swiss Priority Programmes (SPPs)
124444 The impact of work design and organizational practices on sustained volunteering - a self-determination theory perspective 01.05.2010 Project funding (Div. I-III)

Abstract

There is a huge body of research literature on conflicts between work (i.e. paid work) and personal life (i.e. everything outside paid work). In international studies, the concept of work-family conflict (WFC) appears as a decisive correlate of different health problems. However, this research is limited in various respects. First, 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 the WFC research. Second, mostly the negative aspects and spillover effects at the interface of work and personal life is investigated (? work-life conflict) whereas the positive aspects and spillover effects (? work-life enrichment) 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 (? work-life balance (WLB)) 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. This project is targeted on the combination of these two to date independently investigated research areas: On the one hand the interface of paid work and personal life and on the other hand volunteering. Thereby the project follows and integrates two perspectives: first, the research on WFC/WLB (and health) should be enlarged by the topic of volunteering and, second, the research on volunteering should be enlarged by the topics of WLB and health. Since this consolidation is innovative the theoretical framework is marginal and the project has an explorative character.The main aim is to investigate whether volunteering as a hypothesized psychosocial re-source is able to positively affect someone’s WLB and health. We assume that voluntary active people can benefit from this additional role since it is a source of self-esteem or opti-mism which empowers people to manage the different demands of paid work and personal life and, moreover, has a positive influence on their physical, mental and social health.In the context of this project a comprehensive questionnaire will be composed on the basis of established scales assessing work-life conflict, work-life enrichment, volunteering and health. Participants will be employees who are simultaneously active members of a volun-teer organization, either a leisure organization or a social/caritative organization.The proposed project promises unique practical and theoretical relevance since the project contributes to the better or first-time understanding of the relationships between (1) WLB and volunteering, (2) volunteering and health and (3) the influence of volunteering on the relationship of WLB and health. Moreover, from a practical perspective findings can deliver approaches for intervention as well as for prevention concerning WLB and health.
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