Work–family culture within hospitals: An interdepartmental analysis of employee engagement and retention

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Helping employees balance their work and family needs is increasingly pivotal for attracting, engaging, and retaining key talent in health care. Yet, emerging theory and anecdotal evidence suggest that, within organizations, there is considerable variation between departments or units regarding how employees’ lives outside work are supported. Despite top management’s efforts to develop a unified organizational work–family culture, departments have a tendency to take on their own culture, norms, and traditions such that some are more supportive than others.


We investigate whether more positive work–family cultures improve functioning within hospital departments.


We surveyed 680 hospital employees nested within 60 departments at a hospital located in the southeastern United States.


Departments with a more (vs. less) positive work–family culture tend to have higher levels of (a) employee engagement, (b) pride in their organization, (c) confidence in management and leadership, and (d) intention to remain with the organization. Our analyses were robust when splitting the sample between clinical (e.g., nurses and physicians) and nonclinical (e.g., office, clerical, and support services) roles.


Our study sheds further light on the importance of a positive work–family culture within hospitals. The key to instilling a positive, organization-wide work–family culture may be through a department-by-department focus.

Practice Implications:

Benefits of positive work–family cultures within departments can extend beyond job-related attitudes and can potentially enhance recruitment strategies, improve a hospital’s external image to the public, and lead to improvements in patient care and more positive patient experiences.

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