Exploring managers’ attitudes toward work/family initiatives : a mixed-methods approach
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Multiple roles of worker and caregiver are a current reality for American men and women. In response to the need to employ more women and reduce work/family conflict, many companies have adopted work/family initiatives such as flextime and telecommuting. Despite the benefits associated with the use of work/family programs, many companies are hesitant to encourage employees’ use of such initiatives. This study focused on private sector managers’ views of work/family programs and addressed how much they encourage the use of and provide information to employees about flextime and telecommuting. Using a snowball sampling method, 63 managers from private sector companies offering flextime and/or telecommuting participated in an on-line study. These participants answered questionnaires and gave open-ended responses regarding attitudes toward women, men, work, and family, and employees’ usage of work/family programs. The results of the quantitative portion of this study showed a significant correlation between managers’ and employees’ use of flextime or telecommuting policies. Women under the age of 50 (younger) were less likely than their over 50 (older) female, over 50 (older) male, and under 50 (younger) male counterparts to have employees who use flextime or telecommuting programs. Results also showed that women over 50 were more likely to have employees who use flextime or telecommute when compared with men both over and under 50 and women under 50. Measures utilized in these findings were single-item scales developed by the author. Findings from the qualitative portion of this study showed that much of how managers view work/family programs depends on how responsible they believe their employees to be. Further research is necessary to operationalize managers’ view of responsible employees and to understand if this is code for workers who put the job before all else. This study examined private sector managers with a sample comprised of primarily young (Median age for men and women of 37 years), White Americans working as managers in the private sector and therefore caution should be taken when generalizing findings. It is hoped that these findings may be an entry point for interventions aimed at increasing the use and encouragement of work/family policies.