As a multiple recipient of the Rosabeth Moss Kanter Award for Excellence in Work-Family Research, Erin Kelly has been high on our list of guests to invite to our podcast, and we are absolutely thrilled she accepted. She has done amazing research over the years about the different aspects of work-life conflict, inclusive and diverse workplaces, and the changing nature of work and how management needs to adapt. 

I was especially keen to ask Erin to tell listeners about the research they have been carrying out over a number of years within the Work, Family & Health Network, in particular applying and monitoring the perception and impact of STAR - (Support.Transform.Achieve.Results.), an innovative process for creating a work culture that helps to promote the health and well-being of employees and their families while benefiting business. 

The process was implemented in 2 sectors, an IT company and a Nursing home. They start with a management training, developed by Dr. Kossek, and followed by a work re-design process. 

From flexibility to work re-design

Flexibility can mean so many things. It can also mean that an employee is available after hours and on weekends to deal with work-related phone calls and e-mails. We need to ask questions about what work needs to get done, where and when. 

In the work-life arena, we need to think about how we can work in smart and effective ways that also benefit people’s family and personal lives. We shouldn’t be looking for solutions for particular groups of people because the long hours and crazy expectations for almost 24/7 availability affect everyone, not just parents or those caring for adult relatives. They also have real implications for health.

Supervisors are key

How a person experiences work depends to a large extent on his or her supervisor. There is a big difference between having individual accommodations for some, but not for others and total transparency and openness, where the work objectives are clear, the basic rules for what needs to get done by when established and employees can then navigate between their work responsibilities and their family or private demands. 

Smart and Sustainable

As we further develop our understanding of work in the 21st century, the more mature organisations are slowly moving away from policies or interventions, towards a change in the organisational culture. We want this new approach to work to become the new normal, fulfilling the dual goals of the way work is organised is effective and smart, and it enables people to give their best in good health for the long haul. 

Dr. Kelly is an organizational sociologist who has studied the adoption, implementation, and consequences of anti-discrimination and “family-friendly” policies in US workplaces. You can follow Erin on Twitter and find her profile here