MassMutual Survey: Finding Work-Life Balance Difficult When Family Business Is Your Life

Springfield, Massachusetts (PRESS RELEASE – March 9, 2010) — Finding a healthy balance between work and home life is tough enough, but when you work for a family business and your colleagues are your kin, it can require a sense of coordination worthy of a high-wire circus act.

But striking a balance is not impossible, and can make a family business even more enjoyable and fulfilling, according to a 2009 study of family business owners, FamilyPreneurship(SM): What Every Entrepreneur Wants to Know About Being in Business with a Family Member, by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. (MassMutual).

While a family business has many advantages – such as being your own boss and scheduling flexibility – respondents to the survey also say owning a family business can lead to more stress (44 percent) and can mean that you never take a day off (39 percent). The survey, commissioned by MassMutual and conducted by Harris Interactive, occurred in two-parts among six focus groups of small business partners and online among 518 business owners.

“Business always comes home. Yes, it always does,” said one woman who is part of a husband-and-wife retail lawn equipment business.

As a result, 56 percent of owners are constantly trying to improve their work-life balance, according to the survey,

“We may be lying in bed, and I just say ‘You know what?…Enough about work already. I don’t want to hear it,'” said one half of a husband-and-wife food service equipment business.

According to the survey, 44 percent of family business owners always or often discuss work at home, and 28 percent always or often discuss home life at work. Nevertheless, surprisingly few find it to be a concern. Sixty percent say their discussions of work at home rarely or never cause problems, while 75 percent say discussing home at work presents no difficulties.

Achieving a healthy balance depends on several factors, according to survey respondents, and three important ones are:

  • Good communication;
  • Creating time for fun outside of work; and
  • Respecting each other.

The blurring of work-life issues in businesses owned by spouses is somewhat unavoidable, according to the survey. When asked to name their single-most trusted advisor, the largest percentage of respondents (38 percent) named their spouses, who far outranked the runners-up, accountants (19 percent) and lawyers (14 percent).

“With some common sense and mutual respect, most family members can strike a healthy balance between work and home life,” said Beth Wood, assistant vice president of Business Market Development, MassMutual, and a former family business owner herself. “If at first it’s hard finding the right balance between home and work or if the balance has gone out of whack, it can be helpful to ask for guidance from someone who understands the special dynamics of family businesses, such as a Certified Family Business Specialist,” she said.

To learn more about businesses and the special issues facing them, visit Find a financial professional or Certified Family Business Specialist (CFBS) to help with your business insurance needs; visit Search for an office in your area, and ask for a business specialist to contact you.


FamilyPreneurship is a two-part study of focus groups among small business partners, and an online survey. Six focus groups were conducted by Harris Interactive on January 29, 2009 among 6 separate pairs of family business owners. Participants met the following criteria: all own a business with a spouse, sibling, or immediate family member, have between 1 and 500 employees, have been in business for at least five years, and earn a total annual revenue of $1 million or more. The survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company between March 6 – 20, 2009 among 518 business owners, among which 330 are involved in a spousal business relationship and 250 are involved in a business relationship with a family member other than a spouse. Respondents met the following criteria: all U.S. residents, age 18 or older, have between 1 and 500 employees, have owned their business for at least five years, and have annual revenue of $500,000 or more. Results were not weighted. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available.

About MassMutual

Founded in 1851, MassMutual is a leading mutual life insurance company that is run for the benefit of its members and participating policyholders. The company has a long history of financial strength and strong performance, and although dividends are not guaranteed, MassMutual has paid dividends to eligible participating policyholders every year since the 1860s. With whole life insurance as its foundation, MassMutual provides products to help meet the financial needs of clients, such as life insurance, disability income insurance, long term care insurance, retirement/401(k) plan services, and annuities. In addition, the company’s strong and growing network of financial professionals helps clients make good financial decisions for the long-term.

MassMutual Financial Group is a marketing name for Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) and its affiliated companies and sales representatives. MassMutual is headquartered in Springfield, Massachusetts and its major affiliates include: Babson Capital Management LLC; Baring Asset Management Limited; Cornerstone Real Estate Advisers LLC; The First Mercantile Trust Company; MassMutual International LLC; MML Investors Services, Inc., member FINRA and SIPC; OppenheimerFunds, Inc.; and The MassMutual Trust Company, FSB.

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world’s leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what’s next. For more information, please visit

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