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Boris Baltes


Previous research has demonstrated relationships between workplace supports for work/family balance and organizational attitudes. These studies have been primarily descriptive; there have been few studies examining the psychological processes underlying these relationships. This study proposed and tested a model of the relationship between workplace supports and organizational attachment that includes the psychological mechanisms of perceived climate and perceived organizational support. Individuals form interpretations of an organization's actions with regard to its policies and practices with respect to balancing the responsibilities of work and family. Family supportive organization perceptions (FSOP) are an individual's cognitive representation of the organization and serve as the basis for interpreting an organization's actions as being either beneficial or detrimental to one's ability to balance work and family. Individuals also interpret an organization's actions to determine whether or not the organization is supportive of their well-being. Under the norm of reciprocity, if individuals perceive their organization as supportive, they will reciprocate by becoming more committed to the organization. Social exchange theory specifies perceived organizational support (POS) as an antecedent to organizational commitment (OC). A combination of the concepts of psychological climate and POS were used to explain how organizational supports for work and family are related to employee commitment. The proposed sequence of events specified FSOP as a mediator between workplace supports for balancing work and family and POS. It also posited POS as a mediator between FSOP and OC and turnover intentions (TI). Full-time employees of a Midwestern university were surveyed regarding their degree of family responsibility, benefit knowledge, benefit use, perceived supervisor support for work and family (SS), FSOP, POS, OC and TI and the proposed model tested via a path analysis. Results supported a two-stage model of with FSOP serving as cognitive filter through which an organization's actions are interpreted. Although benefit knowledge and benefit use were not related to organizational attitudes, FSOP mediated the relationship between SS and POS and POS mediated the relationship between FSOP and OC and between FSOP and TI. Implications for employers' use of family-related benefits as a means of increasing employee attachment are discussed.

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