Threats to Implementing Successful Work-Life Policies

The integration of new policies and procedures into an organization always brings challenges. The committee believes that a number of issues raised by employees in open-ended survey responses and in focus group narratives must be acknowledged and addressed if work-life policies are to be successful. These issues would just as easily fit into a discussion of culture or into recommendations. The committee has singled these issues out and reported them here because they were pervasive and were reflected in the comments of employees at every level of the organization. These issues create tremendous stress which impacts employees' work-life balance and satisfaction in profound ways. The committee believes that if these issues are not acknowledged and addressed they pose a significant threat to accomplishing meaningful change in regards to work-life balance.

  • Supervisor Accountability.  Because supervisors are often the gatekeepers to effective implementation of programs to help individuals balance their work and personal lives, supervisors should be held accountable for the extent to which they support programs, communicate the programs to employees, and help employees find ways to use programs.   Supervisors' lack of support can prevent individuals from being fully engaged in the workplace. Lack of support can also be a subtle form of discrimination. 
  • Workload Equity.  Investigate workload equity for faculty and staff.  When workload increases, people look around to see if the workload is equally distributed. The perception that some departments and individuals are carrying a heavy workload was pervasive among focus group participants and in the survey comments. Research (Bryon, 2005) shows that high job involvement and working long hours are two of the best predictors of work-life conflict.   Employees should be able to complete their workload within a reasonable time.   
  • Respect and Recognition of Employees. There needs to be respect for employees and their opinions at all levels of the organization and employee opinions and expertise should be regularly sought out and acknowledged. A culture needs to be established that regularly celebrates and acknowledges the accomplishments of all employees.
  • Employee Salaries. All employees must receive a living wage and one that keeps pace with inflation. Salaries were not a central issue for most employees. However, nearly all employees at nearly every level of the organization recognized that some employees did not receive salaries sufficient to survive without relying on second jobs or on public assistance such as food stamps. The interconnections between salaries and work-life balance exist and as one employee noted and others emphasized "making sure that all of our employees make a living wage is a public affairs issue."