Boss Must Settle Family, Work Conflict

Article excerpt

Cox News Service WASHINGTON - New-wave bosses will be called upon to personally provide a ``family friendly'' atmosphere in the 1990s workplace, a business research group reported Monday.

``Believing supervisors are vital to the success of work and family programs, an increasing number of employers are training managers and holding them accountable for ensuring that employees resolve family and work conflicts,'' said the report by The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc.

Supervisor sensitivity will be the second wave of employer responses to the changing American work force, predicts the report, ``Training Corporate Managers to Ease Work and Family Conflicts.''

The initial phase brought a widening array of benefits aimed at balancing work and home needs - on-site day care centers or other child care assistance, flexible work scheduling, parental leave, elder care programs and other family-oriented programs.

``Manager training is the next stage in the evolution'' of a ``family friendly'' workplace, said Dana Friedman of the Families and Work Institute.

At least one large company, Corning Inc., has already fired supervisors who resisted company attempts to help employees with their home life problems, the report said. Other firms are finding ways to financially reward managers who are successful in helping workers balance job and family concerns.

IBM began a mandatory work and family training course last year and the giant computer manufacturer hopes to put all 26,000 of its managers through by the end of this summer.

``It used to be that you went to work and left your problems at home,'' said Sara Gomez, IBM's program manager for workife issues. ``Now that's changing and managers need to be aware of that.''

Indeed, the report said firms are having to change the minds of many managers who rose through the ranks in the decade following World War II - a time when most wives stayed home and reared children.

The number of these ``Father Knows Best'' type families has dwindled rapidly because of economic and social forces. Only about 10 percent of all families now fit this stereotype of a working father and a mother who stays home with children, the report said. …