ORIGINAL PAPER
Work-life balance among newly employed officers – a qualitative study
 
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Department of Security, Strategy and Leadership, Swedish Defence University, Karlstad, Sweden
Submission date: 2020-05-20
Final revision date: 2020-09-20
Acceptance date: 2020-09-23
Online publication date: 2020-11-27
Publication date: 2020-11-27
 
Health Psychology Report 2021;9(1):39–48
 
KEYWORDS
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ABSTRACT
Background:
A military career puts great demands on the individual as regards combining working life and private life. The military and the family both demand time, energy, engagement, and commitment from the individual. Finding an appropriate balance between work and non-work might be particularly complex during military training and deployments that require extended periods away from home. The aim of this study was to investigate newly employed officers’ perceptions of work-life balance and its implications for future careers.

Participants and procedure:
This article is based on 34 semi-structured interviews with newly employed officers and non-commissioned officers in the Swedish Armed Forces (SAF). The interviews were analyzed according to the six-phase ap-proach of coding and theme development by thematic analysis.

Results:
The analysis resulted in the emergence of three main themes: coping with different loyalties, individual and organizational strategies, and concerns about the future. All officers expressed loyalty to their work and organi-zation, but these perceptions were influenced by significant others in private life. High ambitions in combination with stressful working conditions made organizational supportive strategies important, but these differed be-tween units. Concerns about a constantly high workload and lack of recovery were highlighted, as well as con-cerns about future career and family building.

Conclusions:
In order to retain qualified personnel, the SAF should provide support and create conditions that help employ-ees to balance work and non-work. A career in the Armed Forces will inevitably entail a reduced work-life bal-ance, and our results show that the newly employed officers are highly aware of this. To ease the pressure, the SAF could be clearer about the expectations on their new employees.

 
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