6 May 2022


The Effect of Supportive Workplace Supervisors

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Academic level: Ph.D.

Paper type: Research Paper

Words: 2598

Pages: 3

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The Effect of Supportive Workplace Supervisors on Work-Family Conflict


Work-family conflict is a growing concern, especially where supervisors are stringent regarding workers’ family duties and responsibilities. This conflict occurs when family and work demands create excessive pressure on the individual to the detriment of their work or family. In recent times where work obligations face both parents, increasing pressure to deliver both at work and at home increase the chances to have regular work-family conflicts. Nevertheless, interventions in this area show that supportive supervisors have elicited higher job satisfaction among employees through the use of methods such as adequate workloads, empathetic actions towards employees who are parents as well as implementing family-friendly policies. This paper considers whether such interventions have an impact on work-family conflicts, thereby applying its effects both at the management and organizational level.  Keywords: supportive supervisor, work, family, conflict, satisfaction, employee  


Work-family conflict is the disagreement that occurs when the roles an individual plays as a family member and a worker create a disagreement; a conflict exists due to the double role the family member plays in this situation. Research describes that people have a specific amount of energy and time that they expend daily. Both work and family require a certain degree of the time and energy. If they are not balanced, a person will become disturbed mentally and psychologically (Camgoz, 2014). With an increasing number of working mothers and fathers with passing generations, the rate of work-family conflicts is on the rise (Thomas & Ganster, 1995). This is due to the difficulty in balancing work and family; one will normally command more attention than the other will.  One of the plausible solutions that has been highlighted, which has the potential to eradicate this social problem, is enacting favorable company policies that support families. Moreover, empathetic supervisors at the workplace could also reduce work-family conflicts. These supervisors understand the value of family and grasp the role parents or caretakers have for their families in relation to their work. In a positive work environment, the family supportive supervisor cares for the well-being of the employees. When this environment is created, a worker feels cared for by the employer and is in a better position to balance between the work and family (Kossek, Pichler, Bodner, & Hammer, 2011). This research proposal lays the foundation for a study to determine the effect of supportive workplace supervisors in reducing work-family conflicts.

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Literature Review

Current studies in this field are geared towards examining how work affects workers’ well-being from the perspective of the private life of the employee, specifically work-family issues (Bakker & Demerouti, 2007). Research indicates the establishment of family supportive policies alone is not sufficient to address the issues of work-family conflict since the rules depend on the discretion of workers’ supervisors (Geurts, Kompier, Roxburgh, & Houtman, 2003). Generally, informal managerial or supervisor support has been acknowledged as an important factor in lessening work-family conflicts.  According to the conservation of resources (COR) theory, persons aim at gaining resources and strive to protect and maintain them like objects (such as food), conditions (e.g. promotions or a valued job role), and personal characteristic (e.g. mastery, and self-esteem) (Hobfoll, 1989). When these resources are lost or disappearing, the people experience stress. Basing on this framework, the paper will argue that excessive workload and unsupportive supervisors are job stressors that result in psychological and time resource consumers. An upsurge in such strains, calls for more resources being consumed at the work atmosphere, thereby leaving less energy for the family.  Considering the resources are limited, increased workloads and unsupportive supervisors leave scarcer resources to fulfill the demand of family needs. Resource drain on a daily basis due to increased workloads and family-unsupportive environment at work can depressingly influences peoples’ family duties, translating in work-family conflict. As a result, a number of other results could occur, including the lack of employee satisfaction (Bruck, Allen, & Spector, 2002), and the lack of social support systems for the employee (Carlson & Perrewé, 1999), among other multi-dimensional problems (Carlson, Kacmar, & Williams, 2000).  The supportive supervisor empathizes with the desire of an employee to balance between their work and family. In so doing, he or she can put together a schedule that is flexible so that the worker can be with the family at the right time. In addition, the supervisor can tolerate the behavior of the employee for example, if he or she wants to make phone calls to their home when children get home after school. The supervisor is also able to give the employee some time for him or her to visit the childcare center, eldercare centers or even to give permission to the worker to bring along their children to workplaces. Apart from these, an empathizing supervisor is in a position of offering some words of encouragement to the employee if the caretaker leaves or quits the job. With these different forms of empathizing, a worker will feel cared for and his or her family roles valued. These practices will help an employee meet both the family and work responsibilities that they have (Thomas & Ganster, 1995). Supervisors that empathize with employees are significant in helping the worker balance between the work and family roles. The balance helps reduce the stress that the employee might encounter (Winfield & Rushing, 2005). They further discuss that supervisors have the mandate and the authority to make decisions that govern how an organization should operate. Therefore, family supportive supervisors will put in place measures, just like those highlighted by Thomas & Ganster (1995) to help workers balance between family roles and work responsibilities. Family-supportive supervisors are significant within an organization and hence the need of each company and organization to put in place measures that favor working parents, especially mothers. If a balance is met, then businesses will realize significant profits and tremendous growth because the workers will be comfortable since they know how their families are doing. Family supportive supervisors help in putting up measures and policies that favor working parents. Winfield and Rushing (2005) say that directors and managers of organizations have the ability to implement family-friendly policies or choose to live them out. They add on and say that supervisors have been given a greater responsibility to make decisions as compared to the owners or management. In organizations, programs that support families are by choice, and a supervisor has the option of allowing them or not. In addition, the supervisor has the mandate to choose who will enjoy the advantages. On the other hand, the supervisors can allow some of the policies to be breached, especially when they are family supportive. In allowing family-friendly policies to be practiced, the stress and conflict in families or workplaces are reduced. Kossek et al. (2011) also echo the same ideas by saying that it is mostly the responsibility of the supervisor to decide on what happens with the employees put under him or her. Therefore, a family supportive supervisor will ensure the workers are comfortable at work and that their families are safe and healthy too. Reduction in work-family conflicts improves the health of the worker and family members. A family supportive supervisor helps reduce the stress that an employee might have especially when it comes to meeting the needs of the family and the work. Increased stress levels make some people aggressive and unable to meet the responsibilities they have. On the other hand, the results that workers offer might be substandard thus affecting their work and family relationships. Supervisors will create a flexible and worker friendly schedule that might reduce the stress of the employee thus help in maintaining proper health status because stress affects human health greatly (Wadhwa, 2016). Work-family conflict creates unfavorable environments for the worker, both at home and at the workplace. Therefore, proper measures need to be set to ensure their health and well-being is taken care of. The supervisor is also able to put in place a policy that allows workers to bring their family members for example children to work or have to complete their jobs in the organization premises and not take the work at home. With this, they can have more quality time with their family members. In addition, the stress that is brought about by having pending tasks is reduced and most of the time while at home is spend on taking care of the needs of the family. There reports on disagreements in families that have made or carried incomplete work to complete it at home. The time is taken to finish the work was meant for the family. If a supervisor is strict to employees so they can complete responsibilities assigned within the stipulated time, then he or she supports family values. Quality time with family members is important because the working member has spent the whole day at work (Crain, et al., 2014). There are several support systems in workplaces or organizations. There is general supervisor support that entails the general expressions of being concerned about the employee, for example, emotional support and other instrumental support. This support is intended to provide a favorable working environment for the workers. On the other hand, supervisor work-family support presents an environment for the employee to be able to handle family matters and work issues without straining or experiencing any challenges. Per Wadhwa (2016), supervisors are always the agents of the organization. When a supervisor supports the work and family issues of an employee, then the organization is in full support of the same. The other form of support is the organizational support where people can relate to an organization and hence develop a positive attitude towards the organization while organizational work-family support is the ability of an organization to support both work and family roles of the employees through various ways like favorable working hours. At the same time, the employees can feel that the organization is concerned about their welfare (Kossek, Pichler, Bodner, & Hammer, 2011)  Several studies have been carried out to identify the importance of organizational and supervisor support to employees. What most of the researchers did not tackle is how the support can reduce or prevent work-family conflicts. Different theories and models on employee support have also been discussed and little on work and family disagreements.  On the other hand, what the previous studies have also focused on is the how the support motivates employees leading an organization or a company towards achieving its set objectives (Odle-Dusseau, Britt, & Greene-Shortridge, 2012). Most researchers did not realize that the support is critical to the employee’s families rather than the organizations. The society is profit-oriented. As a result, it will look for different ways of impressing their employees so that they are motivated to work towards achieving the goals of an organization. There is more than just making profits. These employees are family members, and these members are under their care. They need them just as much the companies, and other businesses need them. A balance must be there between their work and the people they care about. The supervisors in the work place are responsible for ensuring the employees are comfortable, and their families are also excellent. The peace starts right from home and extends all the way to the work places. If work places provide favorable working environment and support, peace prevails, and workers will deliver what is needed of them. Focusing towards one direction, that is the performance and production of the workers when making policies is wrong. Employed supervisors should look for several ways of motivating employees among them being supporting their families by having favorable policies. The study will give a deeper insight on how family supportive supervisors can help in reducing work-family conflict.       The hypothesis of this study is to test if family-supportive supervisors in workplaces are capable of reducing the work-family conflicts or disagreements. Specifically, the study will focus on work-family conflict and family supportive supervisors. The various ways these supervisors have helped reduce the disparities that exist between working family members and their work places will be clarified and discussed further. The behavior of a family supportive supervisor and the way it might help reduce the work-family conflict will be discussed in detail. In summary, the study will correlate the behavior of family supportive supervisors and the work-family conflict. Working families need a peaceful environment for them to produce significant results for the company. Method  This research methodology will borrow from Goh, Ilies, & Wilson (2015), in whose design; full time employees from an institution of higher learning were sampled. In this case, approximately 132 full time employees of the University of Houston Downtown will be approached via email to participate in the study. Given the focus on family and work, the participants must be married parenting. In addition, for a better comparison, the study will target both full-time workers and part-time employees (102 full-time employees and 30 part-time workers). The study will assume that participants have the same work and home routine. The participants will complete two surveys on a daily basis, one at home and one while at work for a period of one month.    The first survey will be administered at the workplace via an online interface. To consider the unpredictable work schedules, participants will be able to complete the survey at any time starting from 3 pm to whatever time they leave office daily. The home surveys will also be administered through the online platform, which will be available to them after filling the first questionnaire. Home questionnaires can be filled any time after the respondent has gotten home until before the participants retire to bed. An additional survey will be conducted at the end of the study to address the arising questions as the research proceeds.  Different measures and variables will be considered, similar to the model in (Goh, Ilies, & Wilson, 2015). These include:  Daily workload – on a daily basis, at work, a five-item measure will be employed to evaluate worker’s daily job-load. Four items will gauge work demand, which depict the quantity of workload. For instance, measures such as ‘I had to handle my work backlog today’; ‘I had to a lot of work today’ and ‘Today, I had just enough work’ will be used to measure responses on a Likert 5-point scale.  Daily work-family conflict – at home, participants will report on their daily work-family conflicts employing a borrowed six-item measure from (Edwards & Lambert, 2007). Based on a Likert 5-point scale, different measures will be taken, including ‘I reached home very exhausted’ and ‘the rigors of my work today made it hard to feel relaxed after work’.   Controls – Number of children, age, and gender, will be utilized as the second level control variables. Gender will be considered because women and men differentially involve in family-friendly welfares like the works schedule flexibility that influences work-family experiences (Byron 2005) controlled as a proxy for job tenure and job proxy. The number of kids influences the job demands to (WFC).  Daily life satisfaction – while at home, participants will be encouraged to report on their daily satisfaction utilizing a five-item valuation adapted from Goh, Ilies, & Wilson, (2015) scored on a scale of 5 points, (5=strongly agree and 1=strongly disagree). For instance, ‘today, I feel am in control of my surrounding, work and family’.

Preliminary analysis

Uni-variate normality: Data will be accessed before testing the hypothesis to check for non-normality of the chosen scales.  Exploratory factor analysis: Factor evaluation employing the principal axis factoring method will be conducted to inspect the nature of the item-factor loading and the factor structure of the measure.  Discussion

The larger part of the literature review has shown previous research linked with the phenomenon of worker sensitivity with possible effects on the employee. In parts where the employee had a receptive boss, there were higher chances of employee satisfaction with the work. However, effects of supervisor behavior on workplace-home conflicts are yet to be discovered. While supportive supervisors may have various positive effects, studies have not effectively explored the issue of work-family conflicts in the context of supportive supervisors.  As a result, this dissertation will look into this issue in-depth to determine the reality of effects for supportive and non-supportive supervisors on work-family conflicts. With positive relationships linked between worker satisfaction and supportive supervisors, this study looks to establish the relationship between resulting overall job satisfaction with work-family conflicts. Although possible outcomes include the reduction of work-family conflicts with increasing support from workplace supervisors, the relationship needs to be established and its significance determined through the tests run in this study.  Conclusively, therefore, a sure outcome shall be produced at the end of this dissertation to give the relationship between the two variables and the effect of such findings to the business field. Furthermore, this could be an addition to transformational leadership in the light of work-family conflicts.  


Bakker, A. B., & Demerouti, E. (2007). The job demands-resources model: State of the art. Journal of managerial psychology, 22(3), 309-328. Bruck, C. S., Allen, T. D., & Spector, P. E. (2002). The relation between work–family conflict and job satisfaction: A finer-grained analysis. Journal of vocational behavior, 60(3), 336-353. Camgoz, S. M. (2014). The role of savoring in work-family conflict. Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, 42(2), 177-188. Carlson, D. S., & Perrewé, P. L. (1999). The role of social support in the stressor-strain relationship: An examination of work-family conflict. Journal of management, 25(4), 513-540. Carlson, D. S., Kacmar, K. M., & Williams, L. J. (2000). Construction and initial validation of a multidimensional measure of work–family conflict. Journal of Vocational behavior, 56(2), 249-276. Crain, T. L., Hammer, L. B., Bodner, T., Kossek, E. E., Moen, P., Lilienthal, R., & Buxton, O. M. (2014). Work–family conflict, family-supportive supervisor behaviors (FSSB), and sleep outcomes. Journal of occupational health psychology, 19(2), 155. Edwards, J. R., & Lambert, L. S. (2007). Methods for integrating moderation and mediation: a general analytical framework using moderated path analysis. Psychological methods, 12(1), 1. Geurts, S. A., Kompier, M. A., Roxburgh, S., & Houtman, I. L. (2003). Does work–home interference mediate the relationship between workload and well-being? Journal of Vocational Behavior, 63(3), 532-559. Goh, Z., Ilies, R., & Wilson, K. S. (2015). Supportive supervisors improve employees' daily lives: The role supervisors play in the impact of daily workload on life satisfaction via work–family conflict. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 89, 65-73. Hobfoll, S. E. (1989). Conservation of resources: A new attempt at conceptualizing stress. American psychologist, 44(3), 513. Kossek, E. E., Pichler, S., Bodner, T., & Hammer, L. B. (2011). Workplace social support and work–family conflict: A meta‐analysis clarifying the influence of general and work–family‐specific supervisor and organizational support. Personnel psychology, 64(2), 289-313. Odle-Dusseau, H. N., Britt, T. W., & Greene-Shortridge, T. M. (2012). Organizational work–family resources as predictors of job performance and attitudes: The process of work–family conflict and enrichment. Journal of occupational health psychology, 17(1), 28. Thomas, L. T., & Ganster, D. C. (1995). Impact of family-supportive work variables on work-family conflict and strain: A control perspective. Journal of applied psychology, 80(1), 6. Wadhwa, C. (2016). Supervisor support and organizational climate as predictors of work-family conflict. International Journal of Engineering and Management Research, 6(8), 1-5. Winfield, I., & Rushing, B. (2005). Bridging the Border between Work and Family: The Effects of Supervisor‐Employee Similarity. Sociological Inquiry, 75(1), 55-80.

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