Work-family balance (WFB) is a complex social issue that affects individuals, organizations and society as a whole. Many tensions and difficulties arise from work characteristics that can influence the strategies made available to individuals to meet the demands of their work and family roles. Precarious employment is marked by many such characteristics (e.g. irregular and variable schedules, job insecurity, deficient regulatory protection) that make WFB strategies difficult to apply. Among the strategies available, studies point to different forms of organizational support, either on the part of the supervisor or that of colleagues. Support may be expressed through informal arrangements regarding work schedules or job sharing, or through a work climate that promotes a flexible attitude towards WFB.

Because of the great challenges faced by workers in precarious employment, it is of the utmost importance to understand the mechanisms underlying individual and collective WFB strategies and their effects on the perception of work-family conflict (WFC). The main objective of this project is to develop a detailed understanding of these dynamics and their organizational determinants through a systemic, interdisciplinary and multi-levelled approach (individual, group, organizational and regulatory context) in order to facilitate the identification of new solutions to reduce the perception of WFC and improve the subjective well-being of these workers. The proposed approach draws from the expertise of eight researchers from the following disciplines: psychology, ergonomics, law, human ressources management, industrial relations, several of whom have extensive experience in gender-sensitive analysis. The analysis of the situation of the members of our union partners, respectively in blue-collar and white-collar occupations, will allow us to compare WFB strategies of men and women workers who are affected by work precarity in different job sectors, especially in relation to unpredictable and irregular schedules. The specific objectives of the project include: 1) Revealing organizational determinants of successful and unsuccessful WFB strategies through a holistic ergonomic analysis of the work environment and work activity in precarious work settings; 2) Evaluating the mediating role of psychological processes in the relationships between work environment factors, WFC and workers' subjective well-being; 3) Providing an analysis of these results in terms of public policies, sectorial norms and collective agreements with regard both to the adequacy of the regulatory framework as well as to its effectiveness in relation to both men and women workers; 4) Integrating into a comprehensive whole the psychological, ergonomics and legal analysis; 5) Providing organizations with specific recommendations on how to help their employees and members reduce WFC, and thus increase their well-being as well as equality between men and women, and between more and less senior employees. The scope of this partnership is twofold. First, it serves the advancement of WFB knowledge by bringing together experts from different universities and disciplines. The innovative conceptual and methodological frameworks that result from this interdisciplinary approach will reflect the complexity of WFB. Second, the development of a community-based research approach based on a democratic and joint governance between researchers and partners will anchor research in the community. This will ensure the co-construction of knowledge between researchers and partners, promote ownership of scientific knowledge in the community, support transfer knowledge initiatives and enhance the potential for sustainable WFB programs and interventions.

Chercheur principal

Nathalie Houlfort (UQAM)


Anne-Renée Gravel; Isabelle Létourneau (Université de Sherbrooke); Stéphanie Bernstein (UQAM); Rachel Cox (UQAM); Julie Ménard (UQAM); Karen Messing (UQAM); Katherine Lippel (University of Ottawa)

Organisme subventionnaire

CRSH (Conseil de recherches en sciences humaines du Canada)


Subvention de développement de partenariat

Secteur de recherche

Articulation emploi-famille


2015 - 2017

Montant accordé

199 704,00 $


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