The Impact of Family & Technology Issues on Sales Careers

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Literature Review
Article titles like “On-the-Job Satisfaction Declines: Pay. Stress, Changes in Expectations Cited” (Geller 2005), ”More Dads Resist Business Travel” (Armour 2007), “Balancing Work, Life and Other Concerns: A Study of Mobile Technology Use by Australian Freelancers” (Sadler, et al 2006), “Companies Take Costly Steps to Secure Laptops” (Swartz, 2006), and “Technology and the Balance of Work Family Conflict: an Investigation into the Role of Telecommuting” (Golden, 2003) demonstrate that employees and employers are concerned about the impacts work-family conflict, technology and travel have. Employees are trying to balance between work and family when the line between home life and work is blurring (Geller 2005). Employers are looking at revising policies and employee contract negotiations that will help ease the work-family conflict (Badal 2006, and Shellenbarger 2005, 2006, 2007).

Fathers are beginning to demonstrate stress when they try to spend time with their families which conflicts with work demands (Stout 2005). Women in the information technology profession are being challenged with the need for a flexible work schedule to be able to accommodate demands from family schedules, which can cause other stresses from work (Armstrong and Blouin 2005). Added to the family scheduling stress are the requirement for information technology personnel to work weekends and evenings along with the challenge of keeping up with new technologies. Hoonakker, Carayon, and Schoepke (2005) described a model that showed a third factor in high turnover in the information technology work force is the employee’s perception of work-family concept. Work-family conflicts related to emotional exhaustion, job satisfaction and turnover had the strongest relations in their model.

Another workplace problem with the demands by working fathers for travel concessions is the creation of “tensions among co-workers who don’t have children but may feel they’re expected to shoulder more of the traveling burden” (Armour 2007).

This study hypothesized that technology would help or minimize WFC by providing flexibility in job location and/or improved contact with family. For example, a Solon, Ohio, company, The Mayfield Group, “has also dealt with fathers’ reluctance to travel by relying more on technology, such as” using webcams and video conferencing (Armour 2007). Employees today have integrated cell phones and other technologies into their every day life. It was uncertain if these technologies help resolve some of the WFC, or change it into different stresses and/or conflicts. Being accessible through technology 24/7 has added to both groups’ (work and family) time management issues and has necessitated reevaluating work and family conflicts. Conversely, these technologies help the employee check in on, participate in decision making, and facilitate dependent care while still on the job. Dependents can have contact with the caregiver to reduce the stress of not being there personally.

Salespersons especially need to create boundaries between work and family since providing customers with your cell phone number, email address, and text and instant messaging numbers makes the salesperson even more accessible 24/7. Ellen Kossek found that “on average people who worked from one office spent 43 hours per week at work, those in two places spent 45 house per week at work and those working in three places spend an average of 52 hours per week at work.” An additional finding was that the employees working in more than one place had lower performance evaluations by their supervisors. Rather than the performance being lower, Dr. Kossek proposed that this “may actually be because supervisors do not know how to manage distance workers” (“Setting Boundaries Between” 2003).

Security in information technology has never been more important due to recent legislation and publicity about security breaches which can lead to reduced customer trust in the organization. These security breaches have left many customers and organizations vulnerable. Personnel in the information technology field are very concerned about the employee’s understanding of the need to protect their laptops or other personal electronics and especially the data on these devices. Added security can slow down the technology so that the user may feel additional stress and time management issues. Furthermore, the responsibility of securing portable devices and data used for work is being pushed down on the employee (McQueen 2006). Policies are being revised to specify what data can leave the company, who can have access to the data, and where that data can be transmitted (Yip, 2006). If the employee doesn’t have the data on his/her personal devices, then accessing the data from the company’s system must be required to do his/her job. How secure is a WiFi connection at Starbucks? Thereby making network security an even greater when employees are allowed to work at any location. Securing data, electronic devices, and access to corporate data is critical and costly in today’s business environment (Swartz 2006). The now all too familiar scene of people using technology regardless of location or individuals around them has caused a blurring of the line between work and family. Is the call work related or family related? In many instances the calls are work related and the person using the mobile technology, either the sender or receiver, is not aware of his/her surroundings, which is of concern to organizations concerned about the privacy of their data (Sadler, et al. 2006). When customers first asked for responses from companies, all too often the customers' personal information was distributed in unsecured e-mail replies (Adams, 2007). Now, because of increased security systems, procedures and training, this inappropriate distribution of personal information is minimized. Challenges are still faced from the hacker, which only re-emphasizes the need for tight security on all mobile devices and data acquisitions. To add to this complication is that requirement that organizations store email, web searches, and text mail as business records, which must comply with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (WeComply, 2007). Younger workers tended not to be aware of the privacy and permanent record keeping from their use of technology as did older workers.

Based on the literature review and earlier exploratory studies by the authors (see, e.g., Authors 2004), the purpose of the study was two-fold: first, to compare employees’ perceptions toward work-family conflict stress by whether or not they had to travel as part of their jobs; and second, to compare employees’ perceptions of the impact of information technology and security issues on their lives by whether or not they had to travel as part of their jobs.

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