La problématique de l'équilibre emploi-famille (ÉEF) est de plus en plus au cœur des préoccupations organisationnelles, à tel point que se développe l'idée qu’il faut gérer cet équilibre, c'est-à-dire plus explicitement qu'il faut implanter ou modifier certaines pratiques de gestion pour aider les employés à surmonter leurs problèmes d'ÉEF. Cette recherche, effectuée auprès de 301 organisations ayant des opérations au Québec, vise à répondre aux questions suivantes : (1) Quel est le degré d'implantation au Québec des diverses pratiques présentées dans la littérature spécialisée ? (2) Sous quelles formes ces pratiques sont-elles implantées ? (3) Quelles sont les organisations qui les ont implantées ? (4) Quels sont leurs effets ? et finalement (5) Existe-t-il à proprement parler des programmes d'aide à l'équilibre emploi-famille dans les organisations québécoises ?
Employees' difficultes in reconciling work and family obligations have emerged as a key human resources management challenge. Many organizations now recognize that specific managerial practices and programs are needed to reduce the negative impact of work-family conflicts on job behaviours and attitudes (stress, absenteeism, turnover, performance decreasing, etc.).
The present study is an investigation of work/family practices (WFP) implemented by organizations with operations in Quebec. Five issues are considered: (1) To what extent are different types of WFP offered by Quebec based organizations? (2) What are the attributes of WFPs implemented in Quebec? (3) What type of organization implements such practices? (4) What is the impact of different programs? and (5) Are the different WFPs implemented by Quebec-based organizations part of broad company strategics?
Five types of WFP can be identified from a review of the literature:
• Dependent care. This category includes day-care services for children (pre-school, school age, on vacation or on holidays) and financial aid for day care; care of dependants with physical or mental handicaps; emergency help and information and referral services (for schools, day-care centres, relief services, etc.).
• Leave for family activities and other benefits. This category includes matemity leave, parental leave, special holidays for family obligations as well as salary supplements and insurance plans encompassing all family members.
• Employee counselling programs. This category includes various information and counselling services that may help employees resolve personal problems, including work-family conflicts.
• Alternative work schedules. This category encompasses different work schedule practices implemented by organizations, such as flex- time, voluntary reduced time and school-based work schedules. It also includes part-time work, job sharing and at-home work.
• Other practices. This category includes various practices that do not have any unifying theme: financial aid for reintegration following a job relocation (moving expenses for the family, loans, information on schools, help in locating a job for the spouse, etc.); quick response domestic help services (cleaning, financial counselling, catering); financial aid for employees' children pursuing more advanced studies.
A questionnaire was developed, pre-tested and malled in 1993 to the CEO — or to the manager clearly responsible for WFP issues — of 1214 organizations with operations in Quebec. The sample was selected according to the following criteria: (l)all organizations with more than 250 employees; (2) all organizations with more than 50 employees that are also members of the Chambre de commerce du Montreal metropolitain (Metro Montreal Board of Trade or CCMM); and (3) some organizations with less than 50 employees that are members of CCMM. In total, 301 organizations responded to the questionnaire, for a response rate of 25%. In terms of employees, the responding organizations can be broken down in the following manner: 11 had 50 employees or less, 31 had between 51 and 151 employees, 33 had between 151 and 250 employees and 236 had more than 250 employees.
Results indicate that the implementation of WFP greatly varies. Five practices can be considered to be widespread (implementation rate above 50%): collective insurance plans covering the whole family, personal leaves of absence, salary supplements, maternity or adoption leaves of absence and employee counselling services. Two practices — temporary part-time work and voluntary flex-time — are frequently offered (implementation rates between 30% and 40%). Five emerging practices (implementation rate between 9% and 15%) can be identified: job sharing, day-care services for preschool children, information and referral services, financial aid following a job relocation and quick response domestic help. Nine other practices can be considered to be of marginal relevance since their implementation rate is less than 7%.
Results also suggest that the type and number of WFP that are offered are determined by four key dimensions: (1) a group of variables that are interrelated and which includes organization's unionization rate, industry membership and size, (2) organizational culture, (3) proportion of women in the organization, and (4) type of workforce (labourers, professionals, etc.).
Overall, the perceived impact of WFP is marginal at best, most practices being seen as having no effect or a weak positive effect. The most important impact of WFP seems to be an improvement in job satisfaction, followed, not very closely, by ( l ) a reduction in absenteeism (most likely resulting from an increase in employees' involvement towards the organization), (2) a decrease in employee turnover and (3) an increase in the organization's ability to attract personnel. With the exception of flex-time, it appears that emerging WFPs, such as telecommuting, personalized work schedules and special career tracks, have the most positive impact. If further research confirms our results, it would imply that the personalized, informal and ad hoc arrangements which often characterize these practices are more effective than formal, widely accessible policies which do not create as much employee commitment.
Finally, only 11 respondents (3,7%) consider that their firm has a work/family program, i.e., a comprehensive set of practices resulting from a strategic decision by top management to help employees resolve the conflicts they may have between work and family obligations. The following conclusions can be inferred from the results. First, the study's Framework, which relies on five types of WFPs, captures most of the practices that are used by Quebec-based organizations. Second, the implementation rate of WFP varies greatly across organizations. Third, WFP are typically implemented in workplace environments where the workforce is largely professional or technical (white collar), with a high proportion of female employees and a strong union presence (e.g., organizations within the health services and education sector). Fourth, the finding that WFPs have a minimal impact on organizations must be interpreted in a broader perspective than a strict, short-term cost/benefit analysis : WFPs are also a powerful tool that organizations can use to adapt themselves to the evolving needs of the workforce or of their potential employees.
La problemàtica del equilibrio familia / empleo esta cada vez mas en el centro de las preocupaciones organizacionales, a tal punto que la idea de la gestion de este equilibrio se esta desarrollando, esto quiere decir explïcitamente que se deben implantar o modificar ciertas practicas de gestion para poder ayudar al empleado a administrar los problemas derivados de este equilibrio. Esta investigaciòn, efectuada entre 301 organizaciones que tienen operaciones en Québec, trata de responder a las siguientes incògnitas : Primera, cual es el grado de implantaciòn en Québec de las diversas practicas de gestion del equilibrio antes mencionado en la literatura especializada ? Segunda, bajo que modalidad estas practicas se aplican ? Tercera, cuales son las organizaciones que las han implantado ? Cuarta, cuales son los efectos de la aplicaciòn ? y finalmente, Quinta, existen, propiamente hablando, programas de ayuda al equilibrio familia / empleo en las organizaciones quebequenses ?