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Ellen Ernst Kossek - 2021 Lu Ann Aday Award

Ellen Ernst Kossek

Lu Ann Aday Distinguished Lecture

Dr. Kossek discusses how employers have tried to negotiate work-life balance and the respective scientific evidence underlying these strategies.

Biography

Professor Ellen Ernst Kossek is an award-winning social scientist who helped advance the U.S. and international work-family-life research policy field. She is the Basil S. Turner Distinguished Professor at the Krannert School of Management and the first elected President of the Work-Family Researchers Network. She studies how work-life boundaries, work-life-family and diversity employment practices impact women's workplace inclusion and career equality. A recent Stanford study rated her in the top 2% of top researchers to the business and management field. She teaches classes on leading management of diversity and inclusion and managing global organizational behavior and human resources.

Professor Kossek has organized a research-to-practice conference series on breaking bias to advance gender and diversity and an NSF workshop bringing together scholars on management and diversity on the organizational science of fostering work-life inclusion in universities. She has won many awards, including the Work-Life Legacy award for helping to build or advance the work-life movement; the Ellen Galinsky Generative Researcher Award, for contributing breakthrough thinking to the work-family field; the Sage Scholarly achievement award from the Academy of Management's Gender and Diversity in Organizations Division for advancing understanding of gender and diversity in organizations; and won and also been a multi-year finalist for the Rosabeth Moss Kanter award for work-family research excellence and a best paper award for research on diversity climate. Her research has been published in top academic and management journals and featured in national media outlets, including NPR, CNN, WSJ, Financial Times, and the Harvard Business Review.

The Future of Work-Life Leadership and Flexibility

Abstract

COVID-19 has increased awareness of the growing challenges in managing job, family, and personal responsibilities. In response, some employers create well-being initiatives to help and retain people. Yet more than wellness policies, yoga classes, or free healthy snacks, employers make two common errors. First, many overlook scientific evidence identifying supervisors as having the greatest impact on employees' turnover and well-being. In fact, there is a 50% perceptual gap between managers' and subordinates' views of work-life support. Leadership development designed to increase family supportive supervisor behaviors can close that gap. Second, although the pandemic has shown flexible working can help employers maintain productivity, as I recently argued in the Harvard Business Review, many firms implement flexibility problematically. Common approaches are ad hoc work-life accommodation or 24-7 boundaryless working. Neither approach is sustainable. Evidence suggests a future need for a more balanced approach to flexibility that jointly helps people, profits, and society.

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