About WFHN

The Work, Family & Health Network (WFHN) is comprised of an interdisciplinary team of researchers brought together by The National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to advance the field of workplace psychosocial interventions in order to improve the health of workers and their families, while benefiting employers.

Our pilot work found that workers supervised by family-supportive managers were significantly more likely to experience lower levels of work-family conflict, higher job satisfaction, lower intention to change jobs, and higher reports of physical and mental health. In those employees, systolic blood pressure at work was higher than it was when measured at non-work times, and sleep quality was predicted by work-family conflict.

In 2008, WFHN embarked on a multi-site, randomized, controlled trial of an intervention to change the work environment. It was the most comprehensive evaluation of a work-family intervention undertaken to date. Our workplace solution focused on two elements of workplace change:

  • family supportive supervisory behaviors
  • employees’ control over when and where they work

The intervention was delivered in two very different work environments; it was rolled out to over:

  • 1,000 information technology professionals
  • 700 hourly service workers in 15 long-term health care facilities

The Work, Family & Health Network’s researchers are now analyzing the longitudinal, cross-disciplinary data collected over the 5-year study period on how changes in work practices and policies can affect workers, family members, and organizations. The research sheds light on how work-family conflict can affect people’s sleep, energy levels, blood pressure, and exercise habits. It can even affect parent’s relationships with their children.

Interested in learning more about how changes in the work environment can impact the conflict between work and family? Health effects are still being discovered--read our published studies.

Are you looking to implement these types of changes in your own organization? The workplace change toolkits that were used in this intervention are available here, free to download.

Are you a researcher? The Network will be making available a public access data set for researchers to use. These data and accompanying data documentation will be published at the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR). If you are a researcher interested in collaborating with the team, contact wfhn@hsph.harvard.edu for more information on access to restricted data.