Work-family conflict is increasingly common among U.S. workers, with about 70 percent reporting struggles balancing work and non-work obligations.
A new study by University of Minnesota sociologists Erin L. Kelly, Phyllis Moen, Wen Fan, and interdisciplinary collaborators from across the country, shows that workplaces can change to increase flexibility, provide more support from supervisors, and reduce work-family conflict.
The study, titled, "Changing Work and Work-Family Conflict: Evidence from the Work, Family, and Health Network," was published by the American Sociological Review online today and is scheduled to appear in the June print edition of the journal. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funded the research.
Using a sample of nearly 700 employees from an information technology department of a large Fortune 500 corporation, the research team gave half of the group greater control over when and where they worked, as well as increased supervisor support for their personal lives and family. The other group worked under their normal conditions.
The researchers found that employees whose work environments were modified experienced significant improvements over the six-month study period. Not only did they have a decrease in work-family conflict, but they also experienced an improvement in perceived time adequacy (a feeling that they had enough time to be with their families) and in their sense of schedule control.
"This study gave us the chance to look very carefully at how modifying the workplace can effectively address work-family stresses," Kelly said. "The purpose was to help employees work more effectively and more sanely, so they can get their work done well but also address their personal and family needs."
The study suggests the modified work environment brought greater benefits to employees more vulnerable to work-family conflict, in particular parents and those whose supervisors were less supportive before the workplace initiative. There was no evidence that this intervention increased work hours or perceived job demands.
"This study has major practical value in helping organizations imagine similar ways to resolve their employees' chronic sense of being pulled in two directions by obligations at work and at home," Moen said.
"Work-family conflict can wreak havoc with employees' family lives and also affect their health," said Rosalind King, Ph.D., of the Population Dynamics Branch at the National Institutes of Health. "The researchers have shown that by restructuring work practice to focus on results achieved and providing supervisors with an instructional program to improve their sensitivity to employees' after-work demands, they can reduce that stress and improve employees' family time."
NIH and CDC support for this randomized field trial, the most rigorous research method available, was through the Work, Family & Health Network, a collaboration of eight research organizations studying changes in the work environment that can improve the health of workers, and their families, while benefiting organizations.
For more on Moen and Kelly's studies, visit http://www.flexiblework.umn.edu/publications.shtml.
About the American Sociological Association and the American Sociological Review
The American Sociological Association, founded in 1905, is a non-profit membership association dedicated to serving sociologists in their work, advancing sociology as a science and profession, and promoting the contributions to and use of sociology by society. The American Sociological Review is the ASA's flagship journal.
The research article described above is available by request for members of the media. For a copy of the full study, contact Daniel Fowler, ASA's Media Relations and Public Affairs Officer, at (202) 527-7885 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the study, members of the media can also contact Tessa Eagan, Office of Communication, College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota, at 612-625-3781 or email@example.com.
Daniel Fowler | Eurek Alert!
New Formula for Life-Satisfaction
01.10.2015 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
Carbon storage in soils: Climate vs. Geology
14.09.2015 | Universität Augsburg
An interdisciplinary team of researchers has built the first prototype of a miniature particle accelerator that uses terahertz radiation instead of radio...
At present, tiny magnetic whirls – so called skyrmions – are discussed as promising candidates for bits in future robust and compact data storage devices. At...
In cooperation with the Center for Nano-Optics of Georgia State University in Atlanta (USA), scientists of the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics of the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics and the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität have made simulations of the processes that happen when a layer of carbon atoms is irradiated with strong laser light.
Electrons hit by strong laser pulses change their location on ultrashort timescales, i.e. within a couple of attoseconds (1 as = 10 to the minus 18 sec). In...
At the exhibition BATTERY + STORAGE as part of WORLD OF ENERGY SOLUTIONS 2015 in Stuttgart, the Fraunhofer Institutes for Laser Technology ILT and for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS will be showing how laser technology can be used to manufacture batteries both cost- and energy-efficiently.
In the truest sense, it’s all about watts at the Dresden-based Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS and the Aachen-based Fraunhofer...
01.10.2015 | Event News
30.09.2015 | Event News
17.09.2015 | Event News
06.10.2015 | Information Technology
06.10.2015 | Physics and Astronomy
06.10.2015 | Life Sciences