Effective Practices for Academic Leaders
Creating and Supporting a Flexible Work-Life Environment for Faculty and Staff
Volume 2: Issue 2

Journal: 978 1 57922 164 5 / $20.00
Published: February 2007  

E-Publication (PDF): 978 1 57922 392 2 / $10.00
Published: February 2007  

Publisher: Stylus Publishing
16 pp., 8 1/2" x 11"
Series: Effective Practices for Academic Leaders Archive
Executive Summary
The face of academe, and the roles played by faculty and staff, have changed dramatically over the past 30 years. Women are now a significant part of the workforce, and men are taking increasing responsibility for the care of their children. These changes require that university leaders, particularly department chairs, take an active role in supporting the “work-life balance” of their employees. Before they can begin to do so, administrators need to understand the concept of “work-life integration,” sometimes referred to as “work-family flexibility,” or “flexible work arrangements.” These terms refer to an individual’s ability to meet his or her responsibilities at work, at home, and in the community with a sense of competence and a manageable level of stress.

Our goals for this briefing are threefold: First, we describe some of the most common policies and practices related to a flexible work-life environment. A wide variety of work-life policies and programs may be offered by a university to assist faculty and staff in integrating and successfully managing their roles and responsibilities. Often this increased flexibility can be implemented at no additional cost to the university.

Second, we discuss the many ways in which a flexible work-life environment is beneficial to faculty, staff, and their institutions. Flexible work options are a key factor in improving an institution’s success in hiring, job satisfaction, and retention. A flexible work-life environment decreases employee stress and improves a unit’s ability to achieve diversity and equity. It also increases the productivity of faculty and staff, a primary goal of any academic leader.

Third, we describe several things that department chairs can do to create and support work-life flexibility in their departments. Based on faculty work-life policy research, we offer advice on the factors to consider in creating policies and in shaping a climate in which faculty and staff feel safe using them. We present best practice ideas, as well as stories from faculty interviews. These enable academic administrators to develop a rich understanding of the value of a flexible work-life environment for their faculty, staff, and institutions.

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See Leadership & Administration ( Higher Education )