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Is Work-family Conflict a Multilevel Stressor Linking Job Conditions to Mental Health? Evidence from the Work, Family and Health Network

Work and Family in the New Economy

ISBN: 978-1-78441-630-0, eISBN: 978-1-78441-629-4

ISSN: 0277-2833

Publication date: 17 February 2015

Abstract

Purpose

Most research on the work conditions and family responsibilities associated with work-family conflict and other measures of mental health uses the individual employee as the unit of analysis. We argue that work conditions are both individual psychosocial assessments and objective characteristics of the proximal work environment, necessitating multilevel analyses of both individual- and team-level work conditions on mental health.

Methodology/approach

This study uses multilevel data on 748 high-tech professionals in 120 teams to investigate relationships between team- and individual-level job conditions, work-family conflict, and four mental health outcomes (job satisfaction, emotional exhaustion, perceived stress, and psychological distress).

Findings

We find that work-to-family conflict is socially patterned across teams, as are job satisfaction and emotional exhaustion. Team-level job conditions predict team-level outcomes, while individuals’ perceptions of their job conditions are better predictors of individuals’ work-to-family conflict and mental health. Work-to-family conflict operates as a partial mediator between job demands and mental health outcomes.

Practical implications

Our findings suggest that organizational leaders concerned about presenteeism, sickness absences, and productivity would do well to focus on changing job conditions in ways that reduce job demands and work-to-family conflict in order to promote employees’ mental health.

Originality/value of the chapter

We show that both work-to-family conflict and job conditions can be fruitfully framed as team characteristics, shared appraisals held in common by team members. This challenges the framing of work-to-family conflict as a “private trouble” and provides support for work-to-family conflict as a structural mismatch grounded in the social and temporal organization of work.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Acknowledgments

This research was conducted as part of the Work, Family and Health Network (www.WorkFamilyHealthNetwork.org), which is funded by a cooperative agreement through the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (Grant # U01HD051217, U01HD051218, U01HD051256, U01HD051276), National Institute on Aging (Grant # U01AG027669), Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research, and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (Grant # U01OH008788, U01HD059773). Grants from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (Grant #R01HL107240), William T. Grant Foundation, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the Administration for Children and Families have provided additional funding. The contents of this publication are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of these institutes and offices. Special acknowledgment goes to Extramural Staff Science Collaborator, Rosalind Berkowitz King, Ph.D., and Lynne Casper, Ph.D., for design of the original Workplace, Family, Health and Well-Being Network Initiative. The authors gratefully acknowledge support from the University of Minnesota’s Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH) Program (5K12HD055887) and the Minnesota Population Center (5R24HD041023), both funded through grants from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). We wish to express our gratitude to the worksites, employers, and employees who participated in this research and made this publication possible.

Citation

Moen, P., Kaduk, A., Kossek, E.E., Hammer, L., Buxton, O.M., O’Donnell, E., Almeida, D., Fox, K., Tranby, E., Oakes, J.M. and Casper, L. (2015), "Is Work-family Conflict a Multilevel Stressor Linking Job Conditions to Mental Health? Evidence from the Work, Family and Health Network", Work and Family in the New Economy (Research in the Sociology of Work, Vol. 26), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 177-217. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0277-283320150000026014

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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