Schedule control and supervisor support for family and personal life may help employees manage the work-family interface. Existing data and research designs, however, have made it difficult to conclusively identify the effects of these work resources. This analysis utilizes a group-randomized trial in which some units in an information technology workplace were randomly assigned to participate in an initiative, called STAR, that targeted work practices, interactions, and expectations by (1) training supervisors on the value of demonstrating support for employees’ personal lives and (2) prompting employees to reconsider when and where they work. We find statistically significant, although modest, improvements in employees’ work-family conflict and family time adequacy, and larger changes in schedule control and supervisor support for family and personal life. We find no evidence that this intervention increased work hours or perceived job demands, as might have happened with increased permeability of work across time and space. Subgroup analyses suggest the intervention brought greater benefits to employees more vulnerable to work-family conflict. This study uses a rigorous design to investigate deliberate organizational changes and their effects on work resources and the work-family interface, advancing our understanding of the impact of social structures on individual lives.
PURPOSE: This study examined links between diurnal patterns of the stress hormone cortisol and time spent by adolescents in nine common daily activities.
METHODS: During eight consecutive nightly telephone interviews, 28 youths (n = 12 girls), 10-18 years of age, reported their daily activities. On 4 days, four saliva samples were also collected and assayed for cortisol. Multilevel models assessed within- and between-person associations between time in each activity and cortisol area under the curve (AUC), cortisol awakening response (CAR), morning peak (30 minutes after wake up), and daily decline (morning peak to bedtime).
RESULTS: Links with AUC were found for most activities; significant associations with cortisol rhythms suggested that most effects were due to anticipation of the day's activities. Specifically, on days when youths spent more time than usual on video games and television, they had lower AUCs, with lower morning peaks. Youths who spent more time reading (within-person) and in computer-related activities (between-person) had higher AUCs, with stronger CARs (within-person). Youths who slept more had lower AUCs, with lower morning peaks on both the between- and within-person levels. Amounts of time spent in clubs, and for older adolescents in sports, were also linked to lower AUCs. Finally, youths who spent more time in school/schoolwork had lower average AUCs, but on days when youths spent more time than usual in school, they had higher AUCs, stronger CARs, and steeper daily declines.
CONCLUSION: Beyond their known implications for psychological adjustment, youths' everyday activities are linked to stress physiology.