Family Friendly Work Policies May Need Reinforcement
employees successfully balance work and home life may require that
"family-friendly" policies be refocused, according to researchers at
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.
employers in this country who want to be ‘family friendly’
have focused on reducing the conflict between work and home through
policies such as flex time and telecommuting," said Joseph G. Grzywacz,
Ph.D., assistant professor of family medicine at the center. "Our
findings suggest that there’s a more beneficial piece to the
puzzle — the extent to which home life and work life benefit each
researchers examined four types of family/work interaction and used
levels of depression, problem drinking and anxiety as measures of which
combinations were most successful for minimizing the risk of mental
"In terms of
mental health, we found that the optimum relationship between work and
family is when work is protected from family disruptions and when
family contributes to productivity at work," said Grzywacz.
The idea of
employers finding ways to assist in the "family realm" is relatively
new, and there is little research on how to accomplish it, he added.
people are starting to think about are creating learning opportunities
at work that can be applied at home," Grzywacz said. "For example, an
employer might offer parenting classes. The idea behind ‘Take Our
Daughters and Sons to Work’ also fits this model —
it’s an opportunity to build bridges between work and family that
yield gains for the workplace and family. The data suggest that these
types of programs may give employers more bang for the buck in terms of
indicated that different types of programs would be needed, depending
on the combination of conflict and facilitation in an employee’s
life, according to the research team.
scored respondents on four types of family/work interaction: family
helps work, work helps family, work conflicts with family and family
conflicts with work. Not surprisingly, depression, problem drinking and
anxiety were lowest when families helped work and didn’t conflict
with work — combinations that benefit work more than family,
according to the researchers.
sense because we’re a work-oriented country; the results resonate
with the importance of work in most adults’ lives," said
Grzywacz. "People perceive that family benefits their work more than
work benefits their family."