Daphne Berry (Assistant Professor of Management) - Daphne's chapter "Effects of Cooperative Membership and Participation in Decision Making on Job Satisfaction of Home Health Aides" will appear in Volume 14: Sharing Ownership, Profits, and Decision-making in the 21st Century in the series Advances in the Economic Analysis of Participatory and Self-managed Firms edited by Douglas Kruse, to be published December 2013.
Abstract: The work environment in which predominantly women perform caregiving work has a long history in the United States. In addition to the historical, social, and cultural demands on women as primary providers of family caregiving, the demand for paid caregiving has also been met predominantly by women. However, these paid jobs, termed direct care work, lack the type of work environment that might draw people to the field or keep them there. Conditions of the work typically include poverty-level wages, minimal benefits and opportunities for advancement, high rates of occupational injury, exposure to communicable diseases, and high emotional demands. As might be expected, the research links several factors in the work environment of these direct care workers to poor outcomes for the workers and high turnover in these jobs. In contrast, research identifies positive outcomes of participatory democratic worker-owned workplaces for both workers and businesses. In particular, since for-profit businesses lead the rapid growth in home health aide firms and since profit margins in the industry are generally low, a focus on the quality of workers’ jobs would not generally be expected. However, a few home health aide businesses are structured as worker cooperatives—democratically-run, worker-owned businesses. While sharing a common regulatory and economic environment with the conventional for-profit and nonprofit organizations that dominate the industry, a worker cooperative home health aide business presents a different model and reflects different human resource and operational processes and practices, different values, and different organizational outcomes such as job satisfaction. Findings from the current study reveal that home health aides from the worker cooperative were significantly more satisfied with their jobs than aides from the other organizations.