Work-Family Balance Intervention

Background
Managing work and family responsibilities is often difficult and affects the health and well-being of employees, their families, and the workplace. A work culture that allows employees a measure of control over their work schedule so they can effectively balance their family and work demands produces a healthy, productive and loyal workforce, reducing stress for employees, managers and supervisors.  The evidence for the effectiveness of the intervention and the health improvements were found in a randomized controlled trial study, described below.

Intervention Program Summary
Dr. Hammer and colleagues have developed a manager/supervisor training intervention that teaches supervisors to help employees improve work-family balance, chiefly through showing an increased interest in their employees and providing flexibility to deal with family or non-work needs.  The intervention consists of:

  • Computer-based training
  • Face-to-face training
  • Behavioral self-monitoring to increase transfer of training
  • Surveys and tests to define need and measure success

Basis for Selection as a ‘Best Practice’

  • This intervention was implemented in 6 randomly chosen grocery stores in a Midwestern grocery chain and compared to 6 grocery stores from the same chain serving as controls. It is a randomly controlled trial, the strongest research design used to study interventions.
  • Supervisors rated the training as ‘very useful’.
  • Learning was seen in knowledge increases from pre-test (74%) to post-test (92%).
  • Supervisor Behaviors self-monitored on data cards showed evidence of some supervisors exceeding their goals of interacting with their employees and treating them differently.
  • Results were assessed in workers 6 months after the intervention began; employees in the intervention stores self-reported higher levels of physical health than workers in the control stores, after controlling for baseline physical health (improvements were statistically significant).

hammer-et-al-2010.pngThe basis for the work-family balance intervention is described in a research article and a powerpoint about work family balance by Dr. Hammer of Portland State University.

Return on Investment (ROI) reported in the research (your results could vary)

  • Supervisors learned from the training how to show an interest in employees’ outside-work lives (achieving over 90% correct on the post-test)
  • Employees with work-family stress who worked under trained supervisors reported less physical health complaints, greater job satisfaction and reduced intention to leave the job, though employees with less conflict showed opposite trends
  • The effect size of the reduced physical health complaints (symptoms) was  0.26 – Hammer, 2011 – this is a larger effect size than found in the study of the effect of aspirin on subsequent heart attacks that is basis for US-wide MD recommendations for older adults to take daily ‘baby’ aspirin
  • Supervisors rated the training as ‘good’ and ‘useful’

Materials to Implement the Work-family Balance Intervention

  • Research paper describing the intervention (available from the Journal)
  • Powerpoint containing a description of the importance of work Life Balance and an overview of the  intervention process (available by emailing Dr. Hammer)
  • Work-Family Balance training program that fits multiple industries (available for PC, Mac, Web delivery)
  • Builder editing program to customize the training for your company (available for Macintosh only)
  • Step-by-step description of the intervention procedures, face-to-face training, self-monitoring cards and how to apply the intervention to your company (toolkit).  The steps and estimated times are listed below.
  • Surveys required: Family Supportive Supervisory Behaviors (FSSB), Work-Family conflict, and Physical Health surveys

Steps/Times (estimated) to Implement the Intervention

  1. Survey all employees (15 minutes/employee; data entry, review takes 5 minutes/employee)
  2. Review survey to identify problem areas (25 hours)
  3. Download training, add pictures of your organization to training (16 hrs+$300 & $5/supervisor)
  4. Make movie of CEO/top manager supporting program; enter in training (2 hours)
  5. All supervisors/managers take training (1 hour/supervisor)
  6. HR/Safety Manager gives face-to-face training, questions in small groups (1 hour/15 supervisors)
  7. Supervisors fill in employee interaction cards (15 min/day)
  8. HR/Admin. Assistant enters results from cards into graphs each week (10 min/week/supervisor)
  9. HR/Safety Manager shows graph to each supervisor to discuss trends (10 min/supervisor)
  10. Program continues for 4 months (program duration is flexible)
  11. Survey all employees (15 minutes/employee; data entry, review takes 5 minutes/employee)
  12. Compile results of the pre- and post-surveys and supervisor cards for managers/CEO (20 hrs)

Total estimated time commitment and costs for a 100/employee company with 5 supervisors/managers

  • Total time:  840 hours [Basis – Employees:  50 hours    Supervisors: 535 hours    HR/Safety Mgr: 67 hours    Admin Asst: 188 hours]
  • Estimated cost: $29,000 (includes software) [Arbitrary Basis:  Average hourly salaries of $15 for employees, $20 for the administrative assistant., $50 for the HR/Safety Manager, and $45 for supervisors.]
  • Click the work-family balance intervention cost sheet to estimate the cost of the intervention to your organization.

Reference
Hammer LB, Kossek EE, Anger WK, Bodner T, Zimmerman KL. Clarifying Work-Family Intervention Processes: The roles of work-family conflict and family supportive supervisor behaviors. Journal of Applied Psychology, 2011, 96: 134-150. Click to purchase this publication from APA.


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