Improving Family Life Might Start at Work

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ByAnisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Mar 2017
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Photo: Trinette Reed

Not spending as much time as you should with your kids? A little boost from your boss could solve that problem.

A new study published in the journal Pediatrics found that training supervisors to be more supportive of their employees’ personal and family lives had big payoffs at home. The workplace intervention program, called Support-Transform-Achieve-Results (STAR), also encouraged colleagues to support one another and gave employees more control of their work time.

The result? After one year, parents reported spending an average of 39 more minutes per day with their children.

“The results show that we can change the way we work to improve family life,” says research assistant Kelly Davis. “Our study tested ideas from the work-home resource model, which holds that work demands can deplete parents’ resources, including their time and energy, with negative effects on their family functioning. By contrast, increasing work resources can increase the resources parents use in their family lives.”

And more resources doesn’t necessarily mean more time off. There was no significant change in work hours for mothers or fathers from before testing to after. For the most part, parents just had more energy to devote to their kids.

Changes in the workplace could simply mean less stress for parents. And since studies show working parents spend 25 percent (women) or 20 percent (men) of their waking hours thinking about everything they have to get done, some support, morale and flexibility at the office could keep them more focused on logging quality time with their families at home.

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