Collaborative Research Team to Study Work and Family Balance
June 11, 2008
The Cooperative Extension has joined with the Carsey Institute and New Hampshire
Employment Security (NHES) to implement a study of the factors contributing
to work and family balance in New Hampshire workplaces. The study, funded by
a Cooperative Extension Significant Issues grant, will help create programs
to strengthen New Hampshire’s working families.
This research project was inspired by the work of New Hampshire Legislative
Task Force on Work and Family, established in 2007 to “identify the multiple
barriers which keep New Hampshire workers from achieving economic security
and maximizing their contributions to the state’s economy as well as
attending to family responsibilities.”
Malcolm Smith, a Cooperative Extension family education and policy specialist,
noted that previous research shows the correlation of an employee’s family-related
stress and workplace productivity.
“Our research seeks to identify and understand the factors that either
impede or promote balance between work and family life, with a goal of developing
prevention and intervention strategies to address them,” said Smith.
The project will be the first of its kind in the Granite State, and will include
focus groups, surveys, and statewide meetings for policy makers. Cooperative
Extension has provided programs at worksites aimed at balancing work and life,
but seeks to improve and expand its programming with the research findings.
Furthermore, although NHES’s Economic and Labor Market Information Bureau
has produced benefit studies from employer perspectives, it hasn’t solicited
employee perspectives up until this point. This survey will fill a void in
NHES Commissioner Richard Brothers said, “Attracting and retaining young
families is essential for maintaining a strong New Hampshire workforce while
providing the engine to drive our state’s future economic prosperity.”
The Carsey Institute is an applied research and public policy institute at
UNH that studies the issues that face families and communities. The institute
has published several briefs on various aspects of issues related to work and
family balance, but hasn’t yet worked on a comprehensive study.
“A work and family balance study of this magnitude is well overdue in
New Hampshire” noted Kristin Smith, family demographer at the Carsey
Institute. “Many New Hampshire families struggle with juggling the demands
of family and careers. This research will contribute to finding solutions to
help New Hampshire families and businesses better balance work and family by
identifying the key factors that impede their success,” she said.
NHES and Extension will host a series of focus groups including families,
employers, and human resource professionals. The research team will combine
findings from the focus groups with analysis of existing national data to design
a survey instrument, which the UNH Survey Center will administer to more than
500 families throughout the Granite State in the spring of 2009. The project
will also host two statewide meetings for legislative and business leaders,
community support groups, and policymakers.
To learn more, contact Extension associate professor/specialist Malcolm L.
Smith, at 2-7008 or by email at Malcolm.Smith@unh.edu