Topics: Employment, Work-family conflict, Parental leave Pages: 24 (7626 words) Published: June 22, 2013
Work-Life Balance Initiatives

Factors Affecting Employee Use of Work-Life Balance Initiatives Jennifer Smith
Digital Mobile, Auckland

Dianne Gardner
Massey University

The study examines work-life balance (WLB) using a sample of 153 employees in a large New Zealand organisation. Analysis of company policies identified sixteen WLB initiatives currently being offered. Employees were surveyed to determine the extent of their awareness and use of currently offered initiatives. Factors influencing WLB initiative use and employee outcomes for initiative use were investigated. Female employees and younger employees used more WLB initiatives while employees reporting higher levels of management support and supervisor support, and perceiving fewer career damage and time demands also used more WLB initiatives. No support was found for the role of coworker support on WLB initiative use. Initiative use was related to reduced work-to-family conflict. Work-to-family conflict, family-to-work conflict, and commitment to the organisation were related to intention to turnover. The results highlight the importance of workplace culture in enabling an environment that is supportive of WLB and consequently use of initiatives that are offered by the organisation.

but not all employees make use of the initiatives that are available to them even when those initiatives would be helpfiil. The present research aimed to identify demographic and workplace factors that influence the extent to which employees use available WLB initiatives and whether the use of these initiatives impact on work-life balance and other outcomes. Demographic factors affecting ttie use of WLB initiatives While consistent age differences in the overall number of WLB initiatives used have not been found, consistent patterns in the extent to which different initiatives are used at different ages have been identified. Career stage models suggest that younger employees are likely to have fewer extemal demands on their time as they have not established their families to the same extent as mid-life employees and may not have the challenge of caring for aging dependents. Older employees have been found to make more use of dependent care support such as childcare, paid maternity and paternity leave and eldercare than younger employees (Allen; 2000).


emographic changes including the increase in the number of women in the workplace, dual career families, single parent families and an aging population have generated an increasingly diverse workforce and a greater need of employees to balance work and home life (Brough & Kelling, 2002; Frone, Russell & Cooper, 1992; Frone & Yardley, 1996; Hobson, Delunas, & Kesic, 2001). Conflict between work and home life has been linked to job dissatisfaction and turnover and increasingly organisations are using work-life balance (WLB) initiatives to recruit and retain key personnel. Employees may view WLB initiatives as enabling them to balance their work commitments with their nonwork commitments, while employers are likely to view these initiatives as key strategies that enable organisations to recruit and retain employees (Allen,

2001; Anderson, Coffey & Byerly, 2002; Haar, 2004; Haar & Spell, 2001; Hill, Hawkins, Ferris & Weitzman, 2001). WLB initiatives include flexible work arrangements (e.g. working from home, compressed work weeks and flexible working hours), leave arrangements (e.g. maternity leave, paternity leave, and leave to care for a sick dependent), dependent care assistance (e.g. on-site daycare, subsidised daycare, eldercare, and referral to child care), and general services (e.g. employee assistant programs, seminars and programs related to family needs) (Frone, 2003). WLB initiatives give employeesfiexibilityand help ensure that dependents are cared for whilst employees are at work. Both work-to-family conflict and familyto-work conflict can be reduced when employees use WLB initiatives (Allen, 2001; Anderson...

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New Zealand Journal of Psychology Vol.36, No.1, March 2007
J. Smith, D. Gardner Perlow, L. (1998) Boundary control: The social ordering of work and family time in a high-tech corporation. Administrative Science Quarterly, 43(2), 328-58. Perlow, L. (1995. Putting the work back into work/family. Group & Organization Management, 20(2), 221AQ. Shinn, M., Wong, N. W., Simko, P. A., & Ortiz-Torres, B. (1989) Promoting the well-being of working parents: coping, social support, and flexible job schedules. American Journal of Community Psychology, 77(l),31-55. Thomas, L., & Ganster, D. (1995) Impact of family - supportive work variables on work-family conflicts and strain. Journal of Applied Psychology, 80{), 6-15. Thompson, C , Beauvais, L., & Lyness, K. (1999) When work-family benefits are not enough: The influence of workfamily culture on benefit utilization, organizational attachment and workfamily conflict. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 54(3), 392-415. Wayne, J. H., & Cordeiro, B. L. (2003) Who is a good organizational citizen? Social perception of male and female employees who use family leave. Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, 49(5-6), 233-247. Author Notes Jennifer Smith, Human Resources and Training Manager, Digital Mobile, Auckland, New Zealand
Address for correspondence: Dr Dianne Gardner School of Psychology Massey University Private Bag 102 904 North Shore Mail Centre Auckland, New Zealand Email D.H.Gardner@massey.ac.nz
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New ZealandJournal of Psychology Vol. 36, No. 1, March 2007
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