Implementing Flexibility in Work Groups


National Work Family Health Network- Flexibility Intervention- Organizational Change Management Study



Dr. Kossek is a founding member of The Work, Family & Health Network., which is providing scientific evidence about how changes in the work environment can improve the health of workers and their families while benefiting organizations. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched the Network in 2005. She runs a virtual center that designs, monitors and evaluates innovative workplace interventions and change efforts designed to increase family supportive supervisor behaviors, change the work culture and redesign work, and give employees more control over schedules to flexibly manage their work and personal life. Her center is a virtual one with Dr. Leslie Hammer of Portland State University.

To view a snapshot of the overall study and research being conducted, click here.

Implementing Work-Life Flexibility Collectively in Unionized Organizations

The study was designed to increase understanding of the role union representatives and managers play in how workers use and experience flexibility policies and practices, and the links these policies and practices have to organizational performance and worker well-being. This study was funded by a grant to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to Ellen Ernst Kossek and Peter Berg of Michigan State University. Although employing organizations are increasing adoption of flexible work arrangements such as flexibility in scheduling, amount, and location of work to support integration of work and nonwork responsibilities, many gaps remain in the literature. Growing evidence suggests that these new ways of working are not fully living up to their promise or fully integrated into organizational cultures and employment systems, that different employee groups have varying access to and experiences with flexible work arrangements to support work and life integration, and that organizations, managers, and individuals are still are learning what matters to effectively implement flexibility. The goal of this study is to add a collective unionized perspective to the work family discourse as a way to begin to open up new issues and potential solutions for research and policy. Our study has sought to begin this journey by seeking to change the work and family dialogue to focus on having some form of flexibility available to address the needs and voices of all workers, to examine practice versus rhetoric, and to increase use and effectiveness across collective groups and work contexts.

Managing Professionals in New Work Forms: Customized Workloads and Hours

In recent years more employers have established policies and programs to support employees who want to work in different ways to accommodate shifting priorities in their personal and professional lives over the life span. The primary purpose of this research project is to promote greater understanding of how organizations are managing and integrating professionals working on a reduced load basis. The focus of this study is on:

  • a) Following the career and personal life choices of reduced-load professionals over time;
  • b) Learning how managers approach and support reduced-load professionals reporting to them; and
  • c) Examining how new work forms among professionals are evolving in organizations that were experimenting with reduced-load arrangements 5 years ago.