Assignment

Assessing Workplace Practices: A Group Paper Assignment

Activity Description: 

Objective:

Length: 1,5000 words.

Group Paper Assignment.

Students of four to six students will be required to undertake a Work-Life Workplace Assessment of an organization for easing work/family/life conflicts. The Work-Life Workplace Assessment requires analysis of six major components: (1) Stakeholders (2) Organizational structure and nature of tasks/projects, workflow timetables, rostering (3) Workforce composition (4) Motivators and barriers to work-life balance (5) Existing policies, programs, and practices and take up rates for any existing work-life programs (6) Company culture and informal practices (7) Recommendations for senior managers on strategies for assisting employees ease their work/family/life conflicts. Critically analyze whether your recommendations are likely to be implemented soon and why? Students are expected to source additional readings to inform their analysis and present a list of recommendations.

Resources:
Pitt-Catsouphes, M., & Bankert, E. (1998). Conducting a work/life workplace assessment. Compensation and Benefits Management, 14(3), 11-18.

Activity Source: 

Adapted by Jane Case from Bardoel, A. (2003). “Work, Family and Life” Syllabus.

Research Paper for Work and Family

Activity Description: 

Objective:

Individual Assignment.

Students are required to prepare an individual research paper addressing one of the major topics of the subject. The topic selected must focus on work, family/life issues. Your research paper must demonstrate in-depth knowledge and understanding of critical challenges facing individuals, families, employers and/or communities in managing work, family and life issues.

Here is a checklist:

  1. Clearly define the aim(s) of your report and its scope.
  2. Discuss the importance of the topic
    Theoretical importance
    Practical importance
    Is it a new, emerging, or under-researched topic
  3. Literature Review
    Your discussion should link to the most important literature (include highly relevant and key studies)
    Recognize relevant and important areas of literature
    Demonstrate an understanding of the literature
    Identify major themes and issues in the literature that are relevant to the selected topic
    Review literature critically, pointing out limitations, conflicts, and ambiguities
  4. Discussion and Conclusion
    What did you find overall?
    Implications for practice that flow from your findings
    What future research should now be done?
    Practical implications
Activity Source: 

Adapted by Jane Case from Bardoel, A. (2003). “Work, Family and Life” Syllabus.

Research Paper Assignment on Work-Family and the Life Course

Activity Description: 

Author: Catherine White Berheide, Skidmore College

Introduction:

This paper explores how Americans combine their work and family lives today. A life course perspective reminds us that these arrangements change over time. A historical perspective also reveals that these arrangements change over time. This paper explores the variety of “livable arrangements” at which parents arrive to address these competing needs at different stages of their lives and in different historical periods.

Objective:

For this paper, each student will interview two couples who are actively parenting children. Students must choose couples whose children are at different stages of their lives. The stages are:

  • A couple who has at least one child under six.  
  • A couple whose youngest child is between 6 and 12.
  • A couple whose youngest child is between 13 and 18.
  • A couple whose youngest child is over 18, but still economically dependent.
  • Using the interview protocol developed by the class, interview the two couples.

Format:

Begin the paper by drawing on the course readings to frame the problem of the contemporary conflict between work and family at the theoretical level. Be sure to define key concepts. Next discuss what the data from the interviews as well as the data in the course readings tell us about contemporary work and family arrangements. Indicate whether the interview data follow the patterns described in the readings. If they do not, what makes these families different from the “typical” American families? Are these arrangements egalitarian or specialized? Are they equal or fair? What factors influence the choices the couples make? Conclude by discussing whether the arrangements are the result of individual preferences, cultural expectations, or structural changes.

The paper should be five pages long (typed and double-spaced with normal margins and type font). Attach a copy of your notes from your interviews to your paper. Include a reference page listing any of the course readings referred to in the paper. Footnote (using the internal citation format) any direct quotations or paraphrasing. Be sure you cite the exact reading to which you are referring and not the editors of the book from which the reading comes.

Activity Source: 

Adapted by Jane Case from Berheide, C.W. (2006). “Work, Family, and Organizations” Syllabus.

Research Paper on Family Responsive Benefits

Activity Description: 

Author: Catherine White Berheide, Skidmore College

Introduction:

This paper examines how employers respond to their employees’ family concerns. This paper explores the variety of “family-responsive benefits” which employers provide (or fail to provide) to address the challenges of combining work and family.

Objective:

For this paper, each student will choose five employers to study. The student needs to identify what family-responsive benefits each employer offers to its employees. To find out what benefits an employer offers, the student can go to the company’s web site, interview someone in the human resources department (as Galinsky and Deitch and Huffman both did), or interview an employee. All three approaches would be the optimum way to obtain the best data.

Format:

Begin the paper by drawing on the course readings to frame the issue of how employing organizations are responding to the contemporary conflict between work and family. Next discuss what the data in the course readings tell us about family-responsive benefits. Then raise the question of whether the patterns they identify are still true today. Be sure to define key concepts and to indicate how the data on the five employers were collected. Indicate whether the data from the five companies follow the patterns described in the readings. If they do not, what makes these companies different from the ones in the readings? What factors influence the choices employers make about what family-responsive benefits to offer? End the paper by drawing a conclusion about what these data indicate about the likelihood that organizations will offer more or fewer family-responsive benefits in the future.

The paper should be five pages long (typed and double-spaced with normal margins and type font). Attach a copy of your data on each employing organization. Include a reference page listing any of the course readings referred to in the paper. Footnote (using the internal citation format) any direct quotations or paraphrasing. Be sure you cite the exact reading to which you are referring and not the editors of the book from which the reading comes.

Activity Source: 

Adapted by Jane Case from Berheide, C.W. (2006). “Work, Family, and Organizations” Syllabus.

Advocating for Family Friendly Benefits: A Paper Assignment

Activity Description: 

Author: Catherine White Berheide, Skidmore College

Objective:

This paper serves as a culmination of your work this semester. Drawing on your interviews, the data the class collected on the family friendly benefits of employers in the United States, and the course readings, develop a proposal for making the employer of your choosing (either real or fictitious) into a family friendly workplace. To write this proposal, you will need to draw heavily on your previous papers (although I strongly advise you to rewrite them before including them in this paper).

Format:

In the first section of your proposal, you need to identify what the problem is. To write this section, you need to draw heavily on the course readings and your previous interviews and/or new ones. Be sure to consider it from the point of view of the employees who are parents (or prospective parents) as well as those who are not (but might have other family concerns such as an elderly parent) and from the point of view of your company.

In the second section, you need to describe the range of options that are either in place here or abroad or have been proposed for making workplaces in the United States family friendly. To increase the likelihood that your proposal will be adopted, you want to highlight which kinds of family friendly benefits are being adopted by which kinds of employing organizations.

Finally, in the last section, you want to indicate which family friendly benefits you recommend your employing organization adopt. As in the previous paper, the company can be a real one, perhaps one you studied for your second paper or it could be a company for which one of the parents you interviewed works, or it could be a company of your own creation.

The paper can be up to ten pages long (typed and double-spaced with normal margins and type font), but top executives are more likely to read short reports, so brevity is a virtue. Include a reference page listing any of the course readings referred to in the paper. Footnote (using the internal citation format) any direct quotations or paraphrasing. Be sure you cite the exact reading to which you are referring and not the editors of the book from which the reading comes.

Activity Source: 

Adapted by Jane Case from Berheide, C.W. (2006). “Work, Family, and Organizations” Syllabus.

Research Paper on Work and Child Care Arrangements

Activity Description: 

Author: Catherine White Berheide, Skidmore College

Objective:


This paper focuses on the child care problem. First, using the course readings and your previous interviews and/or new ones, you need to identify what the problem is. Second, using course readings and your previous interviews and/or new ones, you need to describe the range of solutions workers in the United States today use to meet their child care needs. Third, you need to develop a solution to the child care problem for your company. The company can be a real one, perhaps one you studied for your second paper or it could be a company for which one of the parents you interviewed works, or it could be a company of your own creation.

Format:


Begin the paper by drawing on the course readings (and interviews) to frame the child care problem. Be sure to consider it from the point of view of the employees who are parents (or prospective parents) and from the point of view of your company.

Next discuss what the data from the interviews as well as the data in the course readings tell us about contemporary child care arrangements. Be sure to consider the complexity of the problem-"children of different ages, different times of year, different times of day, different health statuses, different numbers of parents, different income levels, etc.

Finally, develop a plan for your company to help its employees meet their child care needs. Don’t limit yourself to just providing information about or money to provide paid child care as a solution. What about parental leaves, part-time or part-year jobs, flextime, etc.? Think as well about how to enable employees to take time off, whether an afternoon for a soccer game or several months to a year after the birth of a baby, to spend with their children without committing career suicide, as Sheila Wellington called it.

The paper should be five pages long (typed and double-spaced with normal margins and type font). Include a reference page listing any of the course readings referred to in the paper. Footnote (using the internal citation format) any direct quotations or paraphrasing. Be sure you cite the exact reading to which you are referring and not the editors of the book from which the reading comes.

Activity Source: 

Adapted by Jane Case from Berheide, C.W. (2006). “Work, Family, and Organizations” Syllabus.

Analysis of Work and Family Trends

Activity Description: 

Introduction:

Over the past two weeks, you have become more familiar with some of the demographic changes occurring over time in both employment and family life, as well as the implications of these changes. One of the central tasks of social scientists interested in work-family issues is the ability to identify questions or problems that are important, find data that speak to these questions or problems, and interpret the data to better understand the experiences of contemporary working individuals and families. The overall goal of this assignment is to help you develop these skills and to look more closely at some of the trends described in the Wharton and Marks readings as well as the readings from week 1. Please double-check your numeric totals and proofread your work carefully as I will be grading on both content and presentation of ideas.

Objective:

Identify the social and demographic changes of recent decades that have created changes in employment, family life, and the intersection of these two institutions;

Investigate how race may influence work and family behavior;

Use empirical research to address specific aspects of a complex social problem;

Hone your ability to analyze numeric data and present tightly-argued written interpretations.

Time Commitment for Assignment
I estimate that this assignment will take students anywhere from 2 - 4 hours to complete, depending on your numeric and computer skills.

Late Assignments
Late assignments will be penalized 3 points for each half-day they are late.

Format:

Web Resources Necessary to Complete This Assignment (Also see Course Links)
You will need to access two different U.S. government reports to complete this assignment:
Household and Family Characteristics: March 1998 (Update) which is available on the web at http://www.census.gov/prod/3/98pubs/p20-515u.pdf, and
America’s Families and Living Arrangements, 2008, also available on the web at http://www.census.gov/population/www/socdemo/hh-fam/cps2008.html.
Specific instructions for how to use these resources are included under each task, below.

Task 1a: Document Overall Trends in Employment and Family Structure (5 points)
Instructions

Complete the table, below.

Hints
See “Table 15: Married-Couple Families, by Labor Force Status of Husband and Wife, and Race and Hispanic Origin of Household: March 1998” in the 1998 report and “Table FG1” in the 2008 report to complete task 1a. Couples in which both the husband and wife are employed (or unemployed, but looking for work, as the case may be) are “Dual-Earner” couples in the table below. The other categories used below should exactly match the table headers used by the census in each of the reports.

At any point in time, some people are between jobs and actively looking for work. Note that the census counts individuals who are currently unemployed, but looking for work, as “in the labor force.” Please include counts of the currently employed and the unemployed in each of your totals by family type. So, for example, when calculating totals for couples in which both members are in the labor force (i.e. dual-earner couples), make sure to include those couples in which only the husband, wife, or neither are employed as well as couples in with both are currently employed. The census has already determined that these are dual-earner couples because the unemployed parties are actively looking for work. The 1998 table includes this category sub-total, but the 2008 table does not, so you will need to calculate it yourself for 2008. (Rounding errors may result in totals that are off from those in the census tables by 1). Overall totals tend to be in the first line of the table, with breakouts by other family characteristics (family size, income, etc.) further down in the table.

This assignment will be much easier to complete if you utilize a spreadsheet program to automatically produce category totals and percentages. If you don’t know how to use Excel (or another spreadsheet program) this is a good opportunity to learn. Please present numbers without decimal points and percentages with 1 decimal point in this table. Make sure to note the data source.









Activity Source: 

Adapted by Jane Case from Chesley, N. (2009). “The Work-Family Intersection” Syllabus.

Research Paper Assignment: Social Welfare Policy

Activity Description: 

Author: Luisa S. Deprez, University of Maine

Objective:

The purpose of this assignment is to explore a U.S. social welfare policy in depth and reveal the implications of the policy on/for women. The paper requires a historical overview of the policy; a discussion of the target population, the demographics (who benefits, eligibility criteria, etc); a discussion of ideological and values that are the basis of/inherent in the policy; an analysis (feminist) of the policy in light of its intent - a substantive discussion of the implications of the policy in regard to gender, race, and class; and consideration of alternative approaches that might better embrace a social justice perspective, or affirmation as to why and how the policy is working to attain its goal.

Format:

The paper has 5 parts:

  1. an identification and discussion of a social policy and a brief historical overview of the policy. Include in your discussion an explanation of how this social policy affects or impacts women as well as society as a whole. In your historical review, examine and discuss the development of the social policy, pursue why it was developed and to what issues or problems it was responding, and identify what it was intended to accomplish;
  2. a description/discussion (including statistical descriptors) of the demographics of the target population including who benefits and under what conditions (eligibility criteria) and for how long (time, age limits)
  3. a discussion of ideological and values that underpin this social policy. If there are specific political influences, discuss them;
  4. an analysis of the policy in light of its stated intent: a substantive discussion of the implications of the policy in regard to gender, race and class. Does the policy “do” what it intended to? If not, why? If so, how well?; and
  5. the consideration and presentation of alternative approaches that might better embrace a social justice perspective, or affirmation that the policy is working to attain its goal: What approaches or solutions might better embrace a social justice perspective? If the policy is working to attain its goal, discuss how and why. In this section you should pay particular attention to how this policy is working (or not) to advance women within society.

-The paper should be between 10 and 15 pages in length and must have an outline appended as well as a properly formatted bibliography.

-The paper must be computer-printed/generated on white paper, double-spaced, paginated, with one-inch margins, in a 12 point font, and free of grammatical and spelling errors.

-Footnotes/endnotes and Bibliography must conform to either ASA (American Sociological Association) or APA style.

-In assessing your written work, attention will be given to what you say and how you say it: style, grammar, organization, presentation, and content. Work that is not acceptable may be returned.

Cautions:

Be careful in your use of online resources

Suggested areas of investigation:

Employment and Work: Pay Equity, wage gap
Family Medical Leave, Parental Leave, Sick Leave
Unemployment Insurance
Retirement, Social Security, Insurance, Pensions

Health: Birth Control/Contraception

Reproduction
Sterilization

Family: Child Care

Income Assistance: Welfare
Battered Women/Domestic Violence
Nutrition/Hunger/Food Stamps

Other: Housing

Child Support
Education

More Specific:

Challenges of securing safe, affordable housing for women - either living on their own or with children: home ownership or rental

Historical overview of the YWCA as it provided women with transitional housing

TANF: Best practices (survey of state programs) for women with multiple barriers such as:

domestic violence victims
children with disabilities
disabilities but not legally defined as disabled -" do not meet federal definition of disabled (might include those with conditions such as chronic depression, etc)

Importance of support services (child care, health care) in enabling women to secure and sustain work -" the notion that work and support services go hand-in-hand

Challenges of the low-wage labor market for women, women heading families

Public opinion on women working outside the home, low-income women, programs for those who cannot support themselves

 

Activity Source:

Adapted by Jane Case from Deprez, L.S. (2008). “Women, Welfare, and the State” Syllabus.

Activity Source: 

Adapted by Jane Case from Deprez, L.S. (2008). “Women, Welfare, and the State” Syllabus.

Student Group Presentations of Work-Family Issues

Activity Description: 

Format:

Presentation time: 30 minutes plus 10 minutes for questions

Objective:

Groups of four to six students will be responsible for leading a 30-minute class discussion on one of the work-family themes outlined below. This involves choosing a topic, preparing an annotated bibliography of additional articles on the topic, providing a one-page summary of the research on the topic, preparing discussion questions, and leading or facilitating the discussion. Please refer to the Faculty of Business and Economics Q Manual for useful guidelines for presentations (http://www.buseco.monash.edu.au/Faculty/Pubs/QManual/qoral.html)

Topics for Group Presentations:

  • Issues and options regarding paid maternity and parental leave
  • Social support for elder care
  • Childcare - Issues and options
  • The overworked family
  • Public policy and work-family initiatives
  • Work-family issues and the trade union movement
  • How work-family issues are portrayed in the media

Evaluation Criteria:

Please note that marks for the presentation will be allocated equally to all members of your group. Presentations will be assessed on the following criteria:

  1. Relevance: To what extent was the presentation relevant to the assignment topic?
  2. Clarity: To what extent did this presentation assist your understanding of the content of the material/arguments/analysis presented?
  3. Intellectual Extension: To what extent did this presentation encourage you to think in new ways about the situation/theme presented? To what extent did the presentation build on readings and seminars in this and/or other subjects, and enlarge your appreciation of the material presented?
  4. Group Synergy: To what extent did the presentation combine and go beyond the individual efforts of group members i.e., to what extent did it come together as a group rather than as an individual effort?
  5. Memorability: To what extent will the presentation help you to remember the material presented?
  6. Facilitation of Group Discussion: To what extent did the structure of the presentation facilitate and encourage group discussion and sharing of ideas.
  7. Quality of Annotated Bibliography: Quality of the selection of references to the presentation theme and value of the summary of the main insights and points made for these references.
  8. Summary handout: Similar to an executive summary and should include the main findings and conclusions in relation to the theme.
Activity Source: 

Adapted by Jane Case from Bardoel, A. (2003). “Work, Family and Life” Syllabus.

Business Case 1 - Establishing

Activity Description: 

Purpose:
To develop students’ capacities to present a “business case” for work-family responsive practices.

Steps:

  1. Have students review the topics page “Return on Investment” on the Sloan Work and Family Research Network to help orient them to the concepts “returns on investment” and “dual agendas” as well as “the business case” perspective
  2. Have students identify one workplace practice or public policy that would address a specific work-life issue of their own choosing. To guide their selection, suggest that they identify a practice or policy that appear on the list of “Topics Pages” or in the “Work and Family Encyclopedia” at the Sloan Work-Family Research Network.
  3. Provide the following instructions to students:
You are to write a paper (suggested at 7-10 pages) that is intended to establish the business case for employer responsive practices.  You should assume your audience is a diverse group of employers who may have some interest in issues such as social justice, gender equality, and the wellbeing of future generations.  However their primary interest is on “the bottom line” and how any suggested practice may affect their enterprise.  They will be a skeptical audience.  Unless you can establish your business case, they will assume that your proposal will cost them rather than benefit them, and they will not be inclined to follow your advice.    Use the following section headings:



A.  Introduction
Explain a tension between work and family institutions that -  if it is alleviated - has the potential to not only promote better worker, family, social well-being, but also improve organizational performance.  Give some indication of the magnitude of this problem in terms of its impact on workers, their families, and their employers.  As you explain these tensions, discuss the unique contributions made by different disciplinary perspectives, such as those held by historians, economists, sociologists, psychologists, etc.

B. Establish the Range of Options
Generate a list of ways that employers may address this concern.  For example, if locating daycare presents concerns for employees, explain the types of resources employers may provide that could alleviate this tension (i.e. onsite daycare, subsidies for daycare, information referral services, paid family leave, etc.). 

C. Establish the Business Case
Expand on one of the options listed above and consider the logistics of how that option might be implemented, the expenses that would likely be involved, and the cost savings or increased profits that might be expected.   For example, if an employer were to provide onsite day care, how much would it cost to establish and run such a center?  How many employees would be serviced? And ultimately what would the result be in terms of sales, retention, recruitment of talent, etc.?  If this information is not available, then you can ballpark the figures.  Can you establish a business case?  If not, establish another option in which such a case can be established.

D. Identify a Case Study
Find a real live case study of a similar program or policy that has been implemented and outline its impact on that company’s “return on investment.” You may find it helpful to look at the case studies presented on the Sloan Work and Family Research Network.


Activity Source: 

Content developed by the Sloan Work and Family Teaching Task Force

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