Advancing work–life supportive contexts for the "haves" and "have nots": Integrating supervisor training with work–life flexibility to impact exhaustion or engagement. By: Kossek, Ellen Ernst; Porter, Caitlin M; Rosokha, Lindsay Mechem; Wilson, Kelly Schwind; Rupp, Deborah E. and Law‐Penrose, Jared. 2024. Human Resource Management. Vol. 63 Issue 3, p397-411.

Employers face many dilemmas in effectively implementing work–life flexibility to support employees’ personal lives. A key issue is that some employees hold jobs with limited opportunities for work–life flexibility, making them susceptible to burnout; yet most employers believe they can do little to mitigate this dynamic. Furthermore, even when employees hold jobs with greater access to work–life flexibility, some do not take advantage of their flexibility to more fully engage in work and/or home roles. These issues are further exacerbated when supervisors are unsure of their role in supporting work–life flexibility. We identify work–life supportive context as a key factor that provides solutions to these dilemmas. Drawing on job demands resources theory, we posit that, when organizations provide work–life supportive training to supervisors, it promotes a work–life supportive context (i.e., signaling that the organization is supportive of employees’ managing their work–life interface), which mitigates burnout for those with limited work–life flexibility and promotes engagement in work and home roles for those with greater work–life flexibility. Results from a year‐long
randomized field experiment suggest that, in contexts with trained supervisors and lower employee control over work schedules and boundaries (i.e., lower work–life flexibility), emotional exhaustion is reduced. In contexts with trained supervisors and higher employee control over work boundaries (i.e., higher work–life flexibility), family engagement increases. Surprisingly, irrespective of job access to work‐life flexibility, supervisor participation in work–life support training did not enhance employee work engagement. Implications of our findings for fostering work–life supportive contexts are considered.