Case Analysis

Wharton Work/Life Integration Project, Case Studies

Activity Description: 

Stewart Friedman, Director of the Wharton Work/Life Integration Project, conducted a project that focused on the role of senior business management in creating culture change that benefited both the personal life of employees and productivity for the organization. Four case analyses are offered. 

For more information about the Wharton Work/Life Integration Project: http://worklife.wharton.upenn.edu

To access this resource: https://workfamily.sas.upenn.edu/static/casestudy_wharton

Activity Source: 

Sloan Work and Family Research Network. (n.d.). The Wharton Work/Life Integration Project. Retrieved from https://workfamily.sas.upenn.edu/static/casestudy_wharton

Transitions Research Project

Activity Description: 

“Transitions is a cross-national research project which examined how young European adults negotiate motherhood and fatherhood and work-family boundaries in the context of labour market and workplace change, different national welfare state regimes and family and employer supports. The project examined individual and household strategies and their consequences for well-being at the individual, family and organisational levels. This was studied in the context of parallel organisational contexts and macro-levels of public support in the 8 participating countries: Bulgaria, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden and the UK.”  The website includes a literature review, context mapping, case studies, and project details.

To access the findings from the case studies, visit: http://www.workliferesearch.org/transitions/studies.html

For more information on the Transitions Research Project, visit: http://www.workliferesearch.org/transitions/index.html

Activity Source: 

Transitions (2004). Case studies: Executive summary for the EU framework 5 study ‘gender, parenthood, and the changing European workplace.’ Retrieved from http://www.workliferesearch.org/transitions/Case%20Studies%20ExecSumm.pdf 

Constructs of Job Satisfaction and Organizational Commitment: A Suggested Work and Family Class Activity

Activity Description: 

“In this exercise, students develop a model that identifies predictors of work-related outcomes for individuals that have high degrees of responsibility for others (e.g., children, elderly parents). This is meant to help students understand that predictors of work-related attitudes are unique for each individual and they may change over time as family or dependent responsibilities change. Finally, this activity is intended to help students understand that organizational interventions are often implemented to positively affect work-related outcomes like attitudes or performance.”

Purpose:

Research has supported the notion that situational factors are important predictors of workrelated outcomes like job satisfaction and organizational commitment. This exercise is intended to have students develop a model that identifies predictors of work-related outcomes for individuals that have high degrees of responsibility for others (e.g., children, elderly parents). This is meant to help students understand that predictors of work-related attitudes are unique for each individual and they may change over time as family or dependent responsibilities change. Finally, this activity is intended to help students understand that organizational interventions are often implemented to positively affect work-related outcomes like attitudes or performance.  

Steps:

  1. As a class, define the constructs of job satisfaction, organizational commitment (i.e., affective, normative, continuance) and discuss the traditional theories that identify predictors of these outcomes. In other words, what factors have researchers typically examined as predictors of each? Meyer & Allen (1994) and Spector (1994) provide very good summaries of this literature. 
      
    Meyer, J. P., and Allen, N. J. (1997).  Commitment in the workplace: Theory, research, and application. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.  

    Specter, P. E. (1997). Job satisfaction:  Application, assessment, causes, and consequences. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.  

  2. Organize students into groups of 3-4 and ask them to develop their own theory related to one of the constructs. For instance, ask them to develop a theory that would describe the specific predictors of job satisfaction that may be important to working parents or individuals caring for dependent others. In other words, ask them to expand on the traditional set of predictors for this construct. Students may identify things such as flexibility, good child care, etc.  

  3. Once the groups have developed their theory or set of predictors, write these "new" predictors up on the board. Discuss as a class why these predictors may be particularly important for workers who care for dependent others. For instance, are these things that may reduce workfamily conflict or increase facilitation?  

  4. Finally, have the class identify organizational interventions (e.g., flexible work schedules, job sharing, telework, on-site daycare) that might  address this set of predictors. These could be interventions that organizations already have in place, but also encourage them to be creative in  identifying new, currently unused interventions.  
Activity Source: 

Williams, J. (n.d.). Constructs of job satisfaction and organizational commitment: A suggested work and family class activity. Retrieved from http://wfnetwork.bc.edu/activities_entry.php?id=758&area=All

Quantitative Literacy Through Work-Family Issues

Activity Description: 

Purpose:

Using tables to analyze statistics and then create client reports

Steps:

1. Scenario: In your position as an organizational consultant, you are typically hired by clients to help assess problems and issues faced by employers. You were recently hired by a hospital that has been working to institute flexible work arrangements. The hospital management wants to know how employees working in different positions in the hospital feel about the level of flexibility offered.

As part of your research design, you proposed fielding a short survey to a random sample of hospital employees (you also collected qualitative data through focus groups). Using a list of over 35,000 hospital employees, you randomly selected 2,500 employees to participate in the survey. A paper survey was administered to the sample through the employee mail system and employees were allowed to use work time to complete the survey. Your client is interested in evidence-based answers to the following questions:

  1. Are flexible working arrangements perceived as helpful by hospital employees?
  2. Are there any problems associated with flexible work arrangements?
  3. Are the responses from employees generally positive or negative when they discuss working at the hospital?

2. Your Task: Your research assistant compiled and analyzed the data (see tables, 1-3). You are responsible for writing the client report. You decide to draft answers to the following 3 questions to get you started on the report. In all cases you link your analysis to information in the tables:

  1. Which work arrangements are perceived to be most helpful by hospital employees? Is there a link between perceptions of helpfulness and gender?
  2. What are the costs and benefits of instituting flexible working arrangements among hospital staff?
  3. What do the survey data tell us about the working environment at the hospital?

Tables
Click on the document below to view the data tables (in PDF format). Document will open in a new browser window.
https://workfamily.sas.upenn.edu/sites/workfamily.sas.upenn.edu/files/imported/downloads/class_activities/QuantLiteracy.pdf

Activity Source: 

Sweet, Stephen, Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes, Joshua Mumm, Judith Casey, and Christina Matz. 2006. Teaching Work and Family: Strategies, Activities, and Syllabi. Washington DC: American Sociological Association.

Workplace Flexibility Case Studies

Activity Description: 

The Sloan Network hosts a variety of case studies on workplace flexibility, including:

  • AFLAC’s Full-time Schedule Options
  • ARUP Laboratories and the Seven-On/Seven-Off Schedule
  • Cisco Systems and Telework
  • KPMG LLP and Job Sharing
  • MITRE’s Flexible Work Arrangement
  • PRO Group’s School Leave Policy
  • Rossetti and Flexible Schedules
  • RSM McGladrey and the Flexyear Option
  • Sojourner House and Flexible Schedules
  • Texas Instruments and Flexibility
  • Timberland and the Path of Service
  • The Detroit Regional Chamber’s Flexible Work Schedules
  • The University of North Carolina and Phased Retirement
  • Ward’s Furniture and Flexible Schedules
  • Xerox and Social Service Leave

Please click here to view these case studies: https://workfamily.sas.upenn.edu/static/casestudy
 

Activity Source: 

Written by Ken Giglio

The Usability of Work/Life Policies and Programs, A Suggested Work and Family Class Activity

Activity Description: 

Purpose

To consider the "visible" and "hidden" factors that affect employees' use of work/life policies and programs
 
Steps

  1. Distribute three mini-cases to students (Click on the document at the end of this entry called, "pu_minicase.pdf" to view or download these cases.)
  2. Ask them to consider the factors that might affect employees' use of work/life policies and programs. What factors are related to the employee, as an individual? What factors are related to the employees' family? What factors are related to the employees' work team or work group? What factors are related to the employees' workplace? Which factors facilitate the use of work/life benefits? Which factors impede the use of work/life benefits?
  3. Conduct an in-class discussion about the case. Ask the students to identify changes that could be made at the workplace to increase the "usability" of work/family policies and programs.
Activity Source: 

Content contributed by Kelli Schutte as a Suggested Work and Family Class Activity for the Sloan Networks’ Resources for Teaching section.

Integrating Flexible Work Arrangements and Work, A Suggested Work and Family Class Activity

Activity Description: 

Purpose
To understand the challenges of implementing flexible work arrangements policies in organizations and to offer innovative solutions to achieving greater balance between work and family demands.

Steps

1. Read Bailyn, L., & Fletcher, J. K. (1997). Unexpected connections: Considering employees' personal lives can revitalize your business. Sloan Management Review, 38, 11-19 and have students answer the following questions:

a. Do you believe most employers care about balancing work and other life activities? Why or why not?
b. Should employers care? Why or why not?
c. According to the article, what is the major barrier to balancing work and other life activities within an organization?
d. What factors explain the different experiences of the groups described in this article?
e. Discuss the barriers to changing an organizational culture to one that embraces and effectively utilizes flexible work arrangements.
f. Discuss each of the steps presented by the authors to capturing the benefits of a connection between work and life. How would you go about implementing these steps in an organization? How would you know if the organization is ready to take such a step?
g. How do you define success in the implementation of flexible work arrangements within an organization? Why or why not?
h. Can flexible work arrangements be successfully adopted without consideration of the issues discussed in this article?

2. Form students into groups of 3-4.

3. Have each group identify an organization that they can work with to analyze the feasibility of various flexible work arrangements for a particular group of employees (or for the organization as a whole if it is a small organization). The organization can be one that already has flexible work arrangements or that is considering adopting such arrangements.

4. Have students conduct interviews or surveys to identify work practices that have unintended negative consequences for both the employees' personal lives and for the organization's goals by interviewing employees to discover the impact their work has on their personal lives.

5. Have students then identify workplace constraints that interfere with life balance and create stress within the workplace.

6. Examining these work/life and workplace issues, students should then identify workplace practices that could be changed to pave the way for flexible work arrangements suitable to the environment.

7. Finally, students should consider which flexible work arrangements might be useful and make recommendations for how they would be structured and how they might be successfully implemented.

8. A final report could be submitted to the instructor or students could present their research and findings to the class (and/or organization).

NOTE: Instructors looking for a shorter in-class exercise could limit this activity to step 1 only.

Activity Source: 

Content contributed by Barbara L. Rau as a Suggested Work and Family Class Activity for the Sloan Networks’ Resources for Teaching section.

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