Research by Ellen Ernst Kossek

Our Research

  • Faculty Work-Life Boundary Management, Inclusion, and Women's Career Well-being in the Always-On Workplace – Funded by National Science Foundation ( Award Abstract # 1922380)

Increased tethering to work via technology (e.g., smartphones, computers) is a critical issue for U.S. employees. This trend has fueled 24-7 "always-on" work cultures, contributing to blurring work-life boundaries, defined as the separation between work and personal life domains. Work-life boundaries may be more permeable for women, and any worker with family demands, causing work-nonwork stress and lower well-being. Yet the issue of work-life boundaries is not well understood as a gender career equality and inclusion issue, which may be limiting the representation of women in male-imbalanced STEM disciplines.  This research project bridges the work-life, diversity, and gender fields to advance knowledge on how work-life inclusive climates and practices influence women faculty's career well-being. The project defines a work-life inclusive climate as the degree that people perceive that they entirely belong and thrive while incorporating work and nonwork roles in ways that do not sacrifice their nonwork identities while performing their jobs. The project will help to frame workplace policies promoting effective boundary management in not only universities and STEM/non-STEM disciplines, but workplaces across U. S. society.

  • Comparing the Effectiveness of Work-Family Interventions: Effects on Supervisors, Employee and Organizations – Funded by Russell Sage Foundation

While there is public policy interest in workplace policies to strengthen work-life support for working families (including many women, single parents, and hourly workers), most of the policy studies to date have focused on leaves and scheduling predictability. We sought to understand several other critical and under-examined areas: 1) implications of increased organizational work-life support for supervisors’ roles, skills, and own work-life demands; 2) modification of cell phone accessibility policy to provide job control over boundaries since over 90% of Americans have a cell phone and there is little research on work-life electronic communication policy; and 3) the continued need for scientific evaluation of innovative work-life practices and training. We partnered with a national food retail company to implement two different intervention programs in 69 stores with a control group and compared the effectiveness of each intervention program.

  • Family Supportive Leadership Training and Workplace Assessment Tool – Funded by National Institute of Health (NIH)

Managing the demands of work and personal life is a major stressor, affecting employees and productivity. Yet, there are virtually no evidence-based workplace supervisory training interventions to address this critical public health concern. Research has shown work-family conflict can affect employees’ health, workplace productivity, family interactions, safety, and wellness on and off the job, in addition to the well-being of employees and their families. We evaluated the Work-Life Supportive Supervisor Training (FSST), the only rigorously field-tested training of its kind, to further its mission to help organizations translate evidence-based work-life research into practice. The project aims included: (1) adapt and improve the design and delivery of the online training; (2) develop an online pre- and post-intervention Workplace Assessment Tool that will provide an evaluation of employee perceptions of the workplace work-life and occupational health context, including the perceived organizational and managerial support for employees’ work-life needs; (3) implement the Workplace Assessment Tool and SCORM-compliant training with a cross-section of employees and work environments to assess usability and effectiveness; and (4) collect data from potential adopters at two organizations to establish final proof of concept.

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