August 28, 2014

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USU Study Shows Employer Flexibility Impacts Emloyees' Families

Press Release

August 28, 2014

Logan — Employers’ support and flexibility can not only keep employees happy but also their family. Additionally it may influence whether their spouse wants the employee to continue working for that organization, according to a study by a Utah State University researcher.

“Supervisor support helps employees manage work and family life by allowing them more flexibility when they have to meet a family need,” said study author Merideth Ferguson, assistant professor of management at the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University.

“For example, when an employee receives a call at work about needing to pick up a sick child at school, a supervisor who provides support may help the employee find a way to leave to attend to the child while still making sure the employee’s work tasks are fulfilled,” said Ferguson, whose research focuses on work-family interface and toxic work environments.

The findings provide insight into the importance of organizations having a vested interest in ensuring employee satisfaction and well-being not only at work, but also at home.

Researchers found that if work is leading to unhappiness in the family and the spouse has an interest in changing the situation, the spouse may want the employee to leave that organization.

“Given the impact of employer support on worker commitment, it would behoove organizations to enact policies and procedures that support a culture giving employees flexibility to attend to a family matter. These findings underscore the importance of making sure employees are aware of workplace support,” Ferguson said.

Ferguson encourages organizations to use the onboarding process for new employees to communicate and signal their support for employees keeping work at work and not letting it encroach on family time and demands.

Finally, organizations need to train supervisors on how to provide support for helping employees manage their work-family life.

“By matching their words and actions, supervisors demonstrate behavioral integrity and position themselves as appropriate role models,” she said.

The study is available online at Personnel Psychology. Co-authors include Dawn Carlson of Baylor and K. Michele Kacmar of Texas State University. The study was funded in part by a grant from Baylor.

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