Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

The Influence of Family-Friendly Policies on Turnover and Performance in South Korea

Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

The Influence of Family-Friendly Policies on Turnover and Performance in South Korea

Article excerpt

Introduction

Changes in the workplace as well as the growth in the number of working females and dual-income families have expanded the responsibilities of women both within the household and at work (Bond, Galinsky, & Swansberg, 1998). These sociological changes have also transformed South Korea's workplace environment. Female participation in South Korea's workplace increased from 37.2% in 1965 to 55% in 2001 (T. Kim & Go, 2001), and down to 50% in 2012 (Statistics Korea, 2013). Furthermore, owing to an increased divorce rate, the number of single-parent families has increased from 642,000 in 1975 to 940,000 in 1996 (T. Kim & Go, 2001), and has reached 1,677,415 in 2012 (about 9%; Statistics Korea, 2012). Although a marked increase has been seen in female employees in South Korea, the participation of females in the labor market is low compared with Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) countries. South Korea ranked 27th among 30 OECD members in the female economic participation in 2008 (OECD, 2009). The reason why female workers in South Korea remain economically inactive is the result of a male-centered workplace, culture barriers, societal pressures, and gender differentiation. According to a survey conducted by McKinsey and Company in 2012, many women employees decide to quit their jobs to focus on child care partly due to a lack of family-friendly policies at work and the double burden in the workplace and at home (M. S. Kim, 2013; McKinsey & Company, 2012).

In response to theses social changes, the Korean government has encouraged efforts to promote family-friendly policies. The National Assembly in South Korea revised its Labor Standard Act in 2001 by extending paid maternity leave from 60 days to 90 days and aiming to prevent pregnant employees from working night shifts or on holidays. An amendment to the Equal Employment Act provides benefits to workers on parental leave to eligible for receiving a stipend from the central government (T. Kim & Go, 2001). According to these policy changes, many organizations have begun to adopt family-friendly policies.

The increasing number of work-family policies raises concerns as to their effectiveness. Proponents of family-friendly policies claim that these policies improve productivity by reducing absenteeism and help organizations attract more competent workers. Opponents, however, argue that organizational costs will rise are family-friendly policies increase, and these policies are disadvantageous to workers without children (Clifton & Shepard, 2004). Whereas several researchers have studied the association between family-friendly policies and performance and absenteeism, results are still equivocal. Employees with access to family-friendly policies "expressed significantly lower intention to quit their jobs," and they demonstrate a higher organizational commitment and an increase in performance (Grover & Crooker, 1995, p. 271; Shepard, Clifton, & Kruse, 1996). Grover and Crooker (1995) also found that family-friendly policies have a positive impact on the organization beyond the employees who take advantage of those policies. Other empirical research has observed that family-friendly policies have contributed to reducing employee withdrawal and has increased organization commitment (Halpem, 2005). Clifton and Shepard (2004) found that family-friendly policies have positive effects on organizational performance, absenteeism, and productivity. Other studies, however, have been unable to find a positive relationship between family-friendly policies and productivity. Kossek and Ozeki (1998) concluded that the effect of family-friendly policies on work integration is only marginally effective. Preece and Filbeck (1999) claim that companies with family-friendly policies do not perform better than organizations with non-family-friendly policies.

In light of these previous findings, this study further investigates the causal relationship between family-friendly policies and organizational performance in public organizations. …

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