Give Employees More Complex Work and Control Over Work Time to Increase Work-Family Satisfaction
In recent years, employers have paid increasing attention to their employees’ struggle to balance work and family responsibilities. Often, this effort has taken the form of providing more family-friendly benefits and policies. However, it now seems that work redesign may be one tool available to employers. Valcour’s study of service employees and their work-family satisfaction concluded that, while the more hours a person works, the less likely that person is to be satisfied with the work-family balance, job complexity and control over work hours is much more important.
The lessons employers seeking to increase employee satisfaction with work-family balance can take away from this study are:
- The more complex a job is (requiring a wider variety and higher-level skills and abilities), the more likely the employee is to be satisfied with the work-family balance.
- The more control over work time an employee has, the more satisfied the employee is to be with work-family balance
- If you give an employee more control over work time, he or she is less likely to be negatively affected by long hours in terms of their work-family satisfaction. In fact, you can almost fully immunize an employee from the negative effects of long hours by giving the employee more control over work time.
Certainly, increasing job complexity and providing employees with more control over work time is no small matter. However, it seems that such efforts are more likely to produce positive results in employee satisfaction, by a long shot, then reducing work hours will accomplish. High involvement work practices, such as substantive employee involvement in decision-making, the use of autonomous workings, training and mentoring, and pay for performance, are likely candidates for such job redesign efforts.
This is a classic example of how paying attention to the systems (the lower right) quadrant of AQAL Integral Theory can yield benefits in the intentional (upper-left) quadrant. The systems in which we are embedded have a profound effect on our interior experience of the world, in this case, satisfaction with a fundamental issue, the way we are balancing our work and family lives. While Dr. Valcour didn’t directly address of culture within these organizations (lower-left quadrant), it takes no great leap of imagination to suggest that the job redesign by her findings would have a significant impact on the culture of an organization.(From "Work-Based Resources as Moderators of the Relationship Between Work Hours and Satisfaction With Work-Family Balance", by Valcour (2007), JAP 92(6), 1512-1523.)