Work & Family: Meet the "Dual-Centrics"


For years, working parents have heard the term "work/family balance" and cringed. Balance? Any parent knows that: (a) there's no such thing and (b) that "balance" is not quite the right word, since it implies that one side must be completely down when the other is way up.

In 2003, leading work and family-life researchers introduced the term "dual-centric" to mean people who place equal emphasis on work and out-side-of-work responsibilities. In a study of executives, researchers from the Families and Work Institute, Catalyst, and Boston College's Center for Work and Family were able to link the dual-centrics' ability to emphasize both work and other aspects of life to higher levels of overall employee commitment and reduced stress.
Now the term "dual-centric," applied to employees at all levels of seniority who give equal priority to work and life outside of work, has made it into the common vocabulary of work/family research.

Studies show that dual-centric workers:

  • are on the rise. The workforce of the past featured a man who put work before everything else in his life; today the workforce is comprised of men and women who shift priorities between work and family, according to Kathie Lingle of the Alliance for Work-Life Progress.
  • are more likely to be satisfied with all aspects of their lives. In a recent study by Simmons College School of Management and Bright Horizons Family Solutions, researchers found that people who defined themselves as "dual-centric" were more likely to be focused on their jobs and more satisfied at work.
  • will require employers to adjust policies and practices. Organizations that encourage employees to use work/life programs will be better positioned to recruit and retain the emerging workforce.

- Sarah Bennett-Astesano