The experience of work life balance for Irish senior managers

Frieda Murphy (Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK)
Liz Doherty (Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK)

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

ISSN: 2040-7149

Publication date: 3 May 2011



The purpose of this paper is to explore the experience of work‐life balance amongst senior managers, with particular emphasis on the cause of imbalances. The research is set in a call centre in Ireland at a time when the economy was moving from growth to recession.


A single case study approach is taken. Semi‐structured interviews were conducted with all eight members of senior management in Ireland and with five members of senior management based in five sites across Europe. In addition, company documentation was used.


The overall findings of this study point towards the effect the economy has on the promotion and adoption of work‐life balance initiatives. The findings also show that it is not possible to measure work‐life balance in an absolute way, because personal circumstances influence the way this is perceived. Whilst managers with caring responsibilities have obvious work‐life conflicts, the findings show that some childless managers do also, but cannot find a legitimate justification for addressing their needs. Finally, the findings show that long hours and presenteeism do form “part of the job” when accepting a role at a higher level. However, modern technology has helped this to some extent by allowing senior managers to be accessible instead of having to be present in the office.


The paper provides new insights into aspects of managerial work which impact on work‐life balance – in particular the pressure to “choose” to work long hours, the role of technology, the negative impact of traveling time, and the need for more cultural support for a better work‐life balance for managers.



Murphy, F. and Doherty, L. (2011), "The experience of work life balance for Irish senior managers", Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Vol. 30 No. 4, pp. 252-277.

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