Presenter: Sanda M. Dolcos
Advisor(s): Dennis Daley
Author(s): Sanda M. Dolcos
Graduate Program: Public Administration

Title: Balancing Work and Family: The Impact of Human Resources Practices in Public and Private Organizations

Abstract: The 21st century has brought unprecedented changes in the nature of families and the workforce, raising concerns about the integration of work with family commitments. Investigation of the factors that influence work-family balance has particular relevance for the public sector organizations, which are in need to increase their ability to recruit and retain qualified employees. 

To help employees better manage competing life demands, many organizations offer family friendly benefits to their workers, including flexible scheduling, day care assistance, and various types of leave arrangements. Most of the literature on work and family balance focuses on the effects of these types of policies and benefits provided by organizations. This study starts from the premise that work-family policies are a necessary, but not sufficient condition to help employees balance their work and family demands. We need to consider a broader range of human resources practices. 

The main objective of our study is to examine and compare the role of a series of human resources practices in public and private organizations in the USA. Specifically, we are investigating whether specific human resources practices (work-family policies, job characteristics, and work context) and their impact on work family balance, job satisfaction, and organizational commitment vary according to the sector of employment. 

We employ data from the Families and Work Institute’s 2002 National Study of the Changing Workforce, which is a survey conducted on 3504 employed adults that covers a wide variety of topics related to work, family, and the relationship between these two areas. The preliminary results show that job characteristics and the work context have a significant effect on employees’ ability to balance work and family demands. We also find significant sector differences in job satisfaction and organizational commitment.