Purpose . To estimate the cost to the workplace of implementing initiatives to reduce work-family conflict. Design . Prospective cost analysis conducted alongside a group-randomized multisite controlled experimental study, using a microcosting approach. Setting . An information technology firm. Subjects . Employees (n = 1004) and managers (n = 141) randomized to the intervention arm. Intervention . STAR (Start. Transform. Achieve. Results.) to enhance employees' control over their work time, increase supervisor support for employees to manage work and family responsibilities, and reorient the culture toward results. Measures . A taxonomy of activities related to customization, start-up, and implementation was developed. Resource use and unit costs were estimated for each activity, excluding research-related activities. Analysis . Economic costing approach (accounting and opportunity costs). Sensitivity analyses on intervention costs. Results . The total cost of STAR was $709,654, of which $389,717 was labor costs and $319,937 nonlabor costs (including $313,877 for intervention contract). The cost per employee participation in the intervention was $340 (95% confidence interval: $330-$351); $597 ($561-$634) for managers and $300 ($292-$308) for other employees (2011 prices). Conclusion . A detailed activity costing approach allows for more accurate cost estimates and identifies key drivers of cost. The key cost driver was employees' time spent on receiving the intervention. Ignoring this cost, which is usual in studies that cost workplace interventions, would seriously underestimate the cost of a workplace initiative.
Many employing organizations have adopted work-family policies, programs, and benefits. Yet managers in employing organizations simply do not know what organizational initiatives actually reduce work-family conflict and how these changes are likely to impact employees and the organization. We examine scholarship that addresses two broad questions: first, do work-family initiatives reduce employees' work-family conflict and/or improve work-family enrichment? Second, does reduced work-family conflict improve employees' work outcomes and, especially, business outcomes at the organizational level? We review over 150 peer-reviewed studies from a number of disciplines in order to summarize this rich literature and identify promising avenues for research and conceptualization. We propose a research agenda based on four primary conclusions: the need for more multi-level research, the necessity of an interdisciplinary approach, the benefits of longitudinal studies that employ quasi-experimental or experimental designs and the challenges of translating research into practice in effective ways.