How To Measure Work Life Balance

measuring work life balance

In a fast-paced world where most people compete with time, everyone struggles on how to complete bulk work in a less possible time. With high demands and little resources, the goal to achieve financial wellness seems very exasperating. Ensuring there is work-life balance can lead to less stress and increased productivity. 

What is work life balance?

Cambridge dictionary defines work-life balance as the amount of time spent at work against the amount of time spent with family and leisure. There should be an evenness between professional life and personal life. 

According to Forbes, having a healthy work-life set up promotes a healthy work atmosphere. It contributes to avoiding burnout in the work environment, thus reduces stress. It is ideal for employees to be given flexible work provisions that will allow them to do activities that are outside their work. 

So, how do you know if you are practicing a work-life balance

The instrument to measure work-life balance

Several studies were made by various groups that came up with an instrument to measure work-life balance. The goal is to measure if an individual is spending too much time on his profession or use most of his time in his personal life or have a balance on both.  

The instrument is a self-check questionnaire. Some organizations call it a work-life balance survey, some call it a work-life balance scale. How it is called may differ, but the principle is the same. It is a series of questions designed to measure the perceptions of the level to which work restricts personal life and vice versa. It is suggested that there are benefits to using universal items to measure work-life conflict to reduce confounding antecedents of the work-life conflict itself. Identified matters between strain, time, and behavior-based struggle make more sense for unfolding antecedents of work-life conflicts.

The time-based struggle occurs when the time dedicated to one task makes it hard to achieve the demands in an additional role. Strain centered conflict occurs when a psychological strain formed within a single role as a consequence of the effectiveness of an individual’s added role. Strain centered work-life conflict is possible to be the utmost intense for workforces exposed mostly to extensive emotional, physical, or mental labor demands. The behavior-based struggle occurs when particular behaviors in one role are not appropriate with the behavioral anticipations in another role.

The set of questions differ depending on the organization’s line of business, The widely used scale consists of four parts targeting the independent variable. Here are the four parts:

  • Economical capability, basic needs, and demography
  • Value of work-life experienced 
  • Influence of money and consumerism 
  • Hobbies, friends, and society.

The purpose is to capture and recognize the effect these separate drivers have on work-life balance or nonexistence of it if any. It captures the tenure with current employment, basic demographics, total work practice, personal life versus work priorities, family role, intermediation prepared by employers, causes for imbalance, platforms or periods where imbalance might arise, the role of equipment and technology, manager support and so on. 

There are two types of questionnaires. 

  1. Questions that require direct answers. 
    1. How often in a week do you work beyond your normal work hours?
    2. When was the last time you spent a day out with your family?
    3. How soon do you intend to have a vacation?
  2.  Questions that provide choices. This is also known as MCQ or multiple-choice questions.
    1. Are you satisfied with your work hour arrangements? 
Highly satisfied Somewhat satisfied Not satisfied


Either way, all questions are provided with weights to calculate if an employee is lagging or leaning on his professional life or personal life, or have a healthy balance on both.  

How do you calculate work/life balance?

Now that you know the instrument, the next question is how do you calculate work-life balance? How it is calculated will be based on the model of instrument that is being used. 

This work-life balance measurement is based on work-family conflict namely strain, time, and behavior-based struggles. Here, the role of conflict and improvement from the work and family areas and developed measures accordingly. Time and level of satisfaction are also used for the measurement of work-life balance.

 Table 1: Aspects of work-life balance

Individual Aspects Organizational Aspects Societal Aspects Other Aspects
  1. Well being
  2. Personality
  3. Emotional intelligence
  1. Work-life balance policies and practices
  2. Work arrangements
  3. Superior support
  4. Organization support
  5. Role conflict
  6. Job stress
  7. Colleague support
  8. Work overload
  9. Jon ambiguity
  10. Technology
  1. Family support
  2. Spouse support
  3. Child care activities
  4. Social support
  5. Family conflict
  6. Dependent care concerns
  7. Family and personal demands
  1. Gender
  2. Age
  3. Marital status
  4. Work experience
  5. Parental status
  6. Job type
  7. Employee level
  8. Type of family
  9. Income


Table 2: Conclusions of work-life balance

Work-related Conclusions Non-work Related Conclusions
  1. Career satisfaction
  2. Organizational commitment
  3. Job performance
  4. Absenteeism
  5. Employee turnover
  6. Retention of employees
  1. Family satisfaction
  2. Marital satisfaction
  3. Life satisfaction
  4. Health outcomes
  5. Burnout
  6. Leisure satisfaction


Individuals who score high on individual aspects have a greater ability to balance professional and personal activities. Key focus on organizational aspects is given to flexible work provisions, work-life balance instead of focusing on personal and individual interference and development. As a result, employees are more satisfied with their careers and will commit to working. 

The rating system is used by organizations to set objectives on by what means to improve their practices, policies, and culture which are relevant to work-life balance and professional development. Each question or indicator is lined up in one column and adjacent to it is another column where ratings are provided. 

Below are sample questions under Organizational Aspects.

Policies and Procedures Rating


Employee work hours can be changed without prior notice.
Employees can take a break at any time during the workday.
Employees may work non-traditional hours regularly.
Part-Time Schedules: Employees may work part-time.
Job Sharing: Employees are allowed to share tasks.
Control Hours: Employees have the freedom to control/choice over which work shifts they work, including the choice to render l overtime hours.
Overtime: Employees are given a notification for overtime.
Overtime: Employees can decline overtime for family issues.
Sabbaticals: Paid or unpaid sabbaticals are supported after which a worker can go back to a comparable job.


Rating categories

Rating Description Definition
5 Fully implemented Implementation plan and policy in place, widely acknowledged and utilized
4 Moderately implemented Implementation plan and policy in place, but not generally acknowledged and utilized
3 Rarely implemented Policy in the developmental phase and/or marginal implementation
2 Ad hoc arrangements Unplanned arrangements prepared for definite cases
1 Square one No implementation plan or policy in place; information required to get started
0 Not applicable Aspect is not relevant to the operations


Standardized questionnaire on work-life balance

There is not a single or standardized questionnaire on work-life balance. Each organization has its interpretation and they decide on which factor they want to include in the survey questions, all questions of course depend on what their goals are. 

Does the organization want to know if the employees are satisfied with the implemented policies? Does the organization want to know the factors that affect the employees’ output or productivity? Is the organization trying to determine how to improve the company culture? All questions noted on the questionnaire will be based on what the objectives are. 

Perhaps the easiest scoring method to understand is the 3-point scale. Series of questions will be asked and the participant will answer each using the 3-point scale: Good, Fair, Poor. 

Weight Rate Description
4.0 – 5.0 Good Work-life is in good balance.
3.0 – 3.9 Fair Work-life is in the borderline of being balance.
0.0 – 2.9 Poor Work-life is unsteady. Significant action is required the soonest time possible. 


The number of questions may vary from as few as 10 to as much as 50. The formula to calculate the score will be the same.  Add all the rates then divide them by the number of questions asked. 

The score is based on self perception, thus it may not be precise. However, the survey can offer several benefits such as:

  • Raise awareness on work-life balance matters
  • Encourage to be more proactive in handling work-life balance matters
  • Provide a baseline score which can be used to measure progress in succeeding months
  • Identify items for discussion and improvement

Psychometric assessment of an instrument designed to measure work-life balance

The first study in work-life balance began in the late 1970s in Great Britain. The study was fueled by a group of women who stayed home and wanted to return to work. Since then, work-life balance activities have been deliberated across several disciplines including gender studies, economics, information systems, social psychology, management, and sociology.

In 2001, due to the lack of definition and realistic measure of the concept of work-life balance, psychologist Fisher started an analysis to conceptualize and operationalize the model. Fisher explained work-life balance as a work-related stressor concerning issues of energy, time, strain, and goal accomplishment. His definition was centered on the theory of preservation of resources, one-to-one consultations with a varied set of employees, and published conclusions of qualitative investigation led to work and family conflict. The original self-assessment scale on work-life balance was a 21-item gauge designed to quantify employees’ awareness of work-life balance.

The measure addresses three facets of work-life balance:

  • WIPL, work interference with personal life 
  • PLIW, personal life interference with work  
  • WPLE, work/personal life enhancement 

Participants are asked to designate the occurrence or rate with which certain behaviors were experienced during a specified time using a 7-point time-related scale. Higher means for matters indicate that participants have experienced the circumstances defined in the item more often, which point out to lower stages of work.

In 2005, Hayman piloted a psychometric assessment of the same scale using 61 participants with 15 items of measurement. The study on factor analysis generated three results. 

  • WIPL, work interference with personal life with 7 items resulted in 5.018 eigenvalues and 33.46% variance
  • PLIW, personal life interference with work with 4 items resulted in 3.147 eigenvalues and 20.98% variance
  • WPLE, work/personal life enhancement with 4 items resulted in 2.169 eigenvalues and 14.46% variance.  

MCQ on work-life balance

The use of multiple-choice questions or MCQ is the widely used method in measuring work-life balance. The questions are clearly defined. The participant is given a scale where he can assess himself based on the value and level of competency and convenience at work. Below is a sample of MCQ on work-life balance and how it is computed. 

The questions shown below are for sampling on how the method is calculated, thus questions are limited. Organizations post more questions for a better understanding of their employees’ sentiments towards work-life balance. 


Question Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly Disagree
I often neglect my personal needs due to the stress of my work.
My work suffers because of everything going on in my personal life. 
I often need to make difficult choices between my work and my personal life.
I return home from work too tired to try to do things I wish to do
My job makes it difficult to take care of the type of private life I might like


In this method, a table is made with questions on the left-most column. On each question, a participant is asked about how they feel with the question asked. Each answer corresponds to a weight which will be summed up once the survey is completed. 

The usual weight distribution is as follows:

5 – Strongly agree

4 – Agree

3 – Neutral

2 – Disagree

1 – Strongly disagree


A scale is used to identify if the participant is having a work-life conflict or a healthy work-life balance. The placement and phrasing of the questions play a vital role when conducting these surveys. In some surveys, the higher the score, the more ideal the work-life set up is. In some questionnaires, higher scores indicate poorer levels of work-life balance. 


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