Study: Qualitative Research and Work-life Balance

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Employee Benefits at HealthCo

Purpose of the Case:

1. To apply basic OD processes, such as diagnosis and change management, to issues related to employee and organizational work-life issues, benefits, and programs.

2. To understand and appreciate some of the issues related to individual work-life balance, and related organizational support for it.

Overview of the Case:

HealthCo is a non-profit, fully integrated healthcare company. Background and an overview of the company are given in the case.

The case provides three scenarios involving an employee and their immediate supervisor. In each scenario, work-life balance or conflict is the key issue.

The scenarios raise issues of the role of immediate supervisor in supporting work-life balance or not, future issues in work-life balance, and the role of organization-wide programs and benefits.

A great deal of literature exists in the business press on work-life balance and related issues.

1. Diagnosis of the Situation

This case provides a situation in which the approach to and process of diagnosis is crucial.

A. The case notes that external researchers have surveyed female employees, which provides some initial data. The case also notes differences in concerns and approaches to work-life balance by department/area of the hospital, and, in particular, the difference between 24/7 and 9to-5 departments.

B. The methods of diagnosis should be a key focus. While a survey or quantitative instrument could provide some key information, effective diagnosis would likely involve both quantitative and qualitative data. Qualitative approaches would include focus groups or interviews. Quantitative data could show average or mean support by department managers for an issue like flexible scheduling, but would not begin to explore the issues of flexible scheduling in critical care areas versus the legal department.

C. Work-life issues vary significantly by age, gender, family status, and life stage. They also vary by position in the organization, the nature of specific jobs, and by department-level leadership and culture. These issues should be recognized in considering how to diagnosis the situation.

2. Personal Diagnosis of the Situation

The personal diagnosis of the situation will highlight differing assumptions and views of worklife benefits.

Key issues include: § Using the researchers’ survey and other survey, focus group, or interview data to identify the most important work-life issues and concerns for HealthCo employees. § Identifying the concerns of supervisors and managers regarding HealthCo becoming more supportive of work-life balance. § § Clearly identifying the status of work-life programs and benefits at HealthCo. Benchmarking against best practices or best companies in terms of work-life balance.

§ Identifying the impact of immediate supervisors and managers on work-life balance of individual employees. § § Noting how work-life varies by individual and organizational diversity. Identifying that work-life is not just an issue for individuals with children.

§ Noting that a move to be more supportive of work-life balance likely represents major, second-order change for HealthCo. § The work-life balance is linked to job satisfaction, organizational commitment, motivation, and life satisfaction.

3. Key Issue in HealthCo: Becoming a Top Work-Life Company

This case provides an opportunity to link a current OD issue, work-life balance, to a number of OD processes. A variety of issues can be identified here. Three key issues are as follows.

A. Work-life balance and organizational change

For the majority of companies, creating a culture that truly appreciate and supports individual work-life balance represents major change. The case and the three scenarios can be used to discuss various aspects of the change process including motivating change, developing political support, managing the transition, and sustaining momentum....
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