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FLEXIBLE BOSSES ARE WINNERS WHEN FAMILY, JOB COLLIDE

Each of us has heard this story many times before.

John and Mary get married. John wants to attend the university and Mary promises to work and support him. But then the couple has a baby and Mary must continue working to keep her husband in school.She returns to work after the normal six weeks off, but suddenly conflicts arise with her employment because she needs to take her child to the doctor when the child is sick.

And sometimes her baby sitter cannot watch her child because she has to take her own children to the doctor.

Does Mary keep working even though her supervisor gets a funny look on his face when she tells him she has to leave early to take her baby to the doctor?

Talk about conflicts.

A survey of 1,706 working mothers commissioned by Working Mother magazine and designed by the Families and Work Institute shows that 68 percent of those surveyed suffer "some" or "significant" conflict between job and family needs. About 25 percent have a daily conflict.

Taking care of a sick child is the top con-flict between work and family life for 70 percent of those responding to the survey, followed by getting the child moving in the morning to get to work on time (60 percent) and taking the children to the doctor (44 percent).

About 20 percent say they lie about these absences.

Surveyors say the key factor in how a boss responds to work/family conflicts is the work status of the boss's spouse. Supervisors who have a spouse who is employed are almost twice as likely to be accommodating when job and family life collide compared to supervisors in single-income marriages.

Mothers who work for flexible bosses are more than seven times less likely to want to quit and nearly four times as likely to say they love their jobs than women who work for inflexible bosses.

Dana Friedman and Ellen Galinsky, co-presidents of the Family and Work Institute, a non-profit research firm in New York City, state in the July issue of Working Mother magazine, "A boss who believes that it's OK for mothers to work outside the home and who is accommodating when conflicts arise between work and family life can significantly improve job satisfaction and a company's bottom line."

"This new survey provides ample evidence that American businesses would do well to be more sensitive to their employees' concerns about such conflicts and adopt policies that relieve such stresses," they wrote.

Some of the other findings of the survey are:

- The vast majority of working mothers like their managers. More than 33 percent of them said they are "crazy about" their bosses, 52 percent say their boss is OK and 13 percent dislike them.

- Supervisors in dual-income marriages tend to be more knowledgeable about formal company policies that might alleviate con-flict between job and family.

- Job satisfaction runs highest among working mothers with supervisors who are flexible when a conflict arise between work and family. Of those who said they have accommodating bosses, 67 percent said they loved their job, compared to only 17 percent of those with inflexible bosses.

- When a conflict arises, about 33 percent said they work through lunch to get their work done and 23 percent say they take work home. When they can't get the work done, 26 percent use vacation time to cover their absence, the survey showed.