Cornell Study Connects Work-Family Imbalance to Employee Turnover

A new study published in the Cornell Hospitality Quarterly (CQ) demonstrates the connection between work-family imbalance and an employee's decision to leave a job. The study, which examines voluntary employee turnover in a large regional nonprofit health care and senior services company, is written by Chelsea Vanderpool, a graduate student at Cornell's ILR School, and Sean A. Way, an assistant professor at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration. As the featured article in the May 2013 CQ, the study, "Investigating Work-Family Balance, Job Anxiety, and Turnover Intentions as Predictors of Health Care and Senior Services Customer-Contact Employee Voluntary Turnover," is available for download at no charge for a limited time, by arrangement with CQ's publisher, Sage Publishing. The article is one of nine in an issue devoted to human resources. In a podcast available from the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research, Way discusses the findings and explains how managers can address this issue.

"We tested a model that connected work-family balance to turnover intentions, and we found that work-family imbalance was directly connected to employees' intention to leave," said Way. "Then we added job anxiety to the model and we found that it fully mediated the original link. In short, if your employees are worried about how their job is affecting their family, it looks like they are going to choose their family over their job."

Additionally, Vanderpool and Way show that work-family balance affected voluntary turnover of these health care and senior services customer-contact employees. Way points out that the healthcare workplace is similar to the hospitality industry, with 24/7 operation, odd hours, split shifts, and uncertain customer relationships. Hence, both health care and hospitality industry managers might wish to note this study's findings. Given the cost of voluntary turnover, Vanderpool and Way conclude that their study highlights why health care and hospitality managers should be concerned about their employees' work-family balance and should consider ways to offset the stress of imbalances.

Other human resources articles in the May 2013 Cornell Hospitality Quarterly examine the myths surrounding employment of persons with disabilities in hotels, best practices in diversity management, and the value of supportive work practices on customer-contact employees. The May CQ also focuses on human resources in China, with articles analyzing the effect of group conflict on employee performance, the motivational effect of pay fairness, and team creative performance.

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About the Cornell Hospitality Quarterly

The primary objective of the Cornell Hospitality Quarterly is to publish articles that provide timely and actionable prescriptions for hospitality management practice. The articles we publish are based on important industry challenges that are examined using rigorous methods of inquiry. The content addresses a broad range of topics that are relevant to hospitality, travel, and tourism contexts.

About The Center for Hospitality Research

A unit of the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, The Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) sponsors research designed to improve practices in the hospitality industry. Under the lead of the center's 72 corporate affiliates, experienced scholars work closely with business executives to discover new insights into strategic, managerial and operating practices. The center also publishes the award-winning hospitality journal, the Cornell Hospitality Quarterly. To learn more about the center and its projects, visit

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