"Fostering Work-life Flexibility: Discovering Best Practices among "
Work-Life Policies in Practice: Research in Unionized Organizations About the Study: Work-life policies such as flexible schedules, less than full-time work, or job sharing have become increasingly important as more employed women and men are managing family care, and working time continues to increase. However, little is known about the use of these policies among unionized workers and the roles union officials and company managers play in how workers experience these policies. This research project is designed to increase the knowledge of work-life policies- those that are voluntarily used by employees to manage the integration of work and nonwork demands- in unionized organizations. We will demonstrate what union and management actions are most effective in producing positive outcomes of work-life policies for unionized workers and firms through research conducted at unionized organizations around the country. Based on this research, we will develop a training module for union leaders and management representatives to educate them on how their actions and leadership with regard to work-life policies can affect the attitudes and behaviors of employees. This training will be targeted at bargaining teams, union stewards and supervisors, union and company training programs, and large conferences. It will also include facilitation for union leaders and managers that would help them devise effective strategies for developing and implementing work-life flexibility policies. Benefits to Union, Workers, and Management: This study will help you assess how effective work-life policies are from the perspective of workers. o Both the union and management will receive information about the effect of various work-life policies on individual worker outcomes such as job satisfaction, work-family conflict, organizational and union commitment, family functioning, health, and well- being, and job engagement. o In addition, you will learn about the how informal practices such as supervisor and union steward behavior affect the individual worker and departmental experiences with work- life policies. This study will measure the effect of work-life policies and practices on department level performance outcomes such as customer satisfaction, absenteeism, and/or productivity. This study will allow you to compare your experiences with work-life policies with other unionized organizations on a national level. o With nine work sites and three national unions (UAW, CWA, AFSMCE) included in the study, you will be able to learn how differences in contract language, implementation strategies, and union/management engagement influence the effectiveness of work-life policies. This study will produce a training module for union and management that could be integrated into existing training around work-life policies or customized by the research team to meet the needs of your particular organization. This study involves no direct cost for the union or management and is conducted by a neutral party o As we are researchers and not consultants and as our project is fully funded from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the cost to you is far less than it would be otherwise. We recognize that your time is at a premium. We have designed the study to make as few demands on your resources as possible. In return, we ask your active help in ensuring strong workplace cooperation and support for the study to ensure maximum employee, management and union participation. The Research Process: In general, we will gather information on workers and their supervisors and union stewards by visiting 9 organizations over two days across three different public and private sector unions that have negotiated a variety of flexibility policies. At each organization, we will interview managers and local union officials in order to understand the context in which work-life policies were negotiated and how they were implemented. We will inquire about the bargaining history of work-life policies: Why were they negotiated and what compromises were made to get them into the contract? We will ask supervisors and union stewards how they implemented and currently manage the work-life policies among their workers. In addition, we will collect data on performance outcomes in departments that vary in the extent to which workers are using work-life policies. We will also identify users of various work-life policies by work groups through company records and discussions with supervisors. We will obtain a list of employees by department that would link users and non-users with their respective supervisors, union stewards and/or committee persons. From this list we will draw a random sample of workers and conduct a telephone survey of users and non-users of work-life policies. This survey will ask workers to assess supervisor and steward behavior, e.g. how supportive they are to workers using work-life policies. In addition, we will gather information about employee outcomes such as job satisfaction, work-family conflict, organizational and union commitment, family functioning, well-being and health, and job engagement. Assurance of Confidentiality: All information collected in this study will be held in the strictest confidence. The data gathered will be aggregated and analyzed in such a way that the identity of any organization or employee cannot be linked to any particular results. Once the study is over, the identity of the union and the management will remain confidential unless both parties see it as beneficial to share their identities. Project Team: Dr. Peter Berg and Dr. Ellen Ernst Kossek, Professors in the School of Labor and Industrial Relations, at Michigan State University are co-Principal Investigarots leading the project. Netsy Firestein Director of the Labor Project for Working Families and Dr. Eileen Appelbaum Director of the Center for Women and Work at Rutgers University will also participate as members of the research team.