Date of Award

1-6-2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Hayward Richardson

Second Advisor

Dr. Philo Hutcheson

Third Advisor

Dr. Gregory Brack

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Kijua Sanders-McMurtry

Abstract

Alternative work arrangements (AWA) policies allow employees to select varied work schedules that are both conducive to the organization’s goals and to employees’ personal needs. Though common in the business sector, such policies are rarely articulated within American colleges and universities. Practitioners within the student affairs profession regularly work beyond the average 40-hour week due to the fundamental nature of their work with students’ co-curricular involvement outside of the classroom; as a result, the lack of work-life balance can result in high employee turnover which can be detrimental to an organization. Utilizing grounded theory, a qualitative methodology that allows researchers to espouse new theories to explain phenomena based on data, 14 student affairs practitioners employed at a large research institution in the southeast were interviewed to examine their experiences which emanated from the institution’s AWA policy implemented in 2007. The emergent theory collectively affirmed the importance of flexibility as participants indicated that they expected variations in their work hours given the unusual hours that are commonly associated with the student affairs profession. They reported benefits such as better work-life balance, increased productivity, reduced stress, and increased job satisfaction. Conversely, participants expressed concerns that AWAs were not consistency available to all employees and awareness of the policy was limited. They also experienced feelings of guilt and often felt the need to prove that they were working. Finally, participants recommended that AWA policies should be transparent, regularly assessed, and benchmarked against existing policies at other universities. Results provided evidence of how proven strategies used in corporate human resource models can be applied in a higher education setting, and the findings further suggested that employees and employers could greatly benefit from the establishment of formal policies that allow flexibility in the workplace through the use of AWAs. Implementation of these policies may provide employees with more opportunities for work-life balance, thereby improving job satisfaction and increasing employee retention in the student affairs profession.

Share

COinS