The University of Rhode Island is committed to providing employees with programs and resources that improve productivity, support effective work-life strategies, and address sustainability challenges such as transportation and commuting issues.
The URI Work-Life Committee envisions workplace flexibility initiatives as a means to bring about the social changes necessary to meet the needs of the diverse 21st century workforce. Several guiding principles inform our efforts.
- Our work recognizes that the economy depends on families to perform essential unpaid work: to bear and raise the next generation of workers, and to support and nurture present and past workers. Workplaces can no longer base workplace policies and practices on the assumption that work has no responsibility for supporting workers’ lives off the job. Work and family are inextricably interconnected, and one cannot function without the other.
- Research evidence is clear on three points: children are well-served when they are cared for in families with shared nurturance responsibility; fathers want to be more involved in family life but feel constrained by work expectations; and when families make gendered choices about family care, women are much less likely to succeed in even the most family-friendly work environment. Thus, our initiatives are designed to help families make non-gendered choices about work and family life.
- The vision of the work-life committee is to replace medical models of family leave that view family caregiving as non-standard emergencies with a model of workplace flexibility that expects all employees have the right to lead balanced lives. This new vision views work-life flexibility as an integral part of a sustainable and just society.
- A concerted educational component must be an essential piece of work-life initiatives: to best disseminate information about policies and benefits, to change discriminatory norms, and to facilitate uniform and fair implementation across all workers, disciplines, colleges, and divisions.
Creating a family-friendly and flexible work environment involves an array of policy initiatives and practices. Policies cannot succeed without also changing personal attitudes and interactional expectations between supervisors and co-workers, and these changes require a broad, ongoing change in institutional culture.