Cover Story

APA's 2004 president, Diane F. Halpern, PhD, director of the Berger Institute for Work, Family and Children at Claremont McKenna College, will give her presidential address on Saturday, July 31, at 1 p.m.

In her talk, titled "New models of work-family interaction that provide returns on investment to employers and working families," she will discuss how policies friendly to work-family integration benefit employers as well as employees.

Most employers rarely consider the idea of initiating policies that allow employees more decision and the resulting changes in families means that time has become a valuable resource, and its scarcity is a source of great strain for many families. Yet, there have been few societal attempts to realign the world of work with the reality of contemporary family life. For example, the school day is still structured so that it ends hours before most parents return from work.

Employers can give workers more control by instituting policies that help them manage their work and family obligations without having to choose between the two, Halpern will argue. For example, by giving employees some flexibility in their work hours, they can care for family members--such as meeting with a child's teachers or taking an older parent to the doctor--without missing time from work.

Halpern will present data that show the benefits of such policies to both employers and working families, including fewer absences, reduced turnover, increased loyalty to one's employer, fewer tardy days and fewer stress-related health problems. Such research, says Halpern, can hasten the change to a new worker model that is family- and employer-friendly.