Original Research

CEU.gif The construction of work–life balance: The experience of Black employees in a call-centre environment

Sonia C.B. Potgieter, Antoni Barnard
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 36, No 1 | a892 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v36i1.892 | © 2010 Sonia C.B. Potgieter, Antoni Barnard | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 February 2010 | Published: 11 August 2010

About the author(s)

Sonia C.B. Potgieter, Vodacom Pty (Ltd), South Africa
Antoni Barnard, University of South Africa, South Africa


Orientation: Work–life balance, as a crucial aspect of employee and organisational wellness, remains an interesting field of research, especially due to the changing demographic employee profile.

Research purpose: The objective of the study was to explore Black employees’ construction of work–life balance in a customer care environment.

Motivation for the study: The conceptual debate regarding the construct of work–life balance in general as well as limited qualitative research with regard to Black employees’ experience of work–life balance in a South African context motivated the study.

Research design, approach and method: This qualitative study was designed from an interpretivist perspective. Ten employees, selected through purposeful sampling, participated in the study. Data was gathered through in-depth interviews and grounded theory was applied during data analysis.

Main findings: The grounded theory analysis of the data yielded six themes central to participants’ construction of work–life balance. The findings suggest that work–life balance is conceptualised as a continuous, subjective and holistic valuation of satisfaction derived from multiple roles in relation to the importance to the individual at a given point in time.

Practical/managerial implications: Findings provide valuable managerial information to guide suitable strategies enhancing the work–life balance experience and by implication employees’ general wellbeing, job satisfaction and commitment.

Contributions/value-add: This study contributes to the evolving body of knowledge with regard to work–life balance and provides a unique context-specific perspective to the conceptual understanding of the construct.


employee wellness; grounded theory; in-depth interview; qualitative research; quality of life; work–home interaction


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