Hubby Out of Work? Stress Will Affect Your Job Too

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job interview Just what you need: One more thing to worry about when your spouse gets laid off. A recent study shows that even if you keep your job, if your husband, wife or domestic partner gets a pink slip, your work will be probably be affected as well.

The study, conducted by Associate Professor Maw-Der Foo of Colorado University at Boulder's Leeds School of Business, took a look at daily stresses felt by married couples in which one spouse was employed and the other unemployed, and how those stressors affected each spouse.

"We looked at the unemployed person's activities and their distress, but we also looked at the work experience of the employed person and how that also spills over to the family relationship," he said. They found that most of the still-employed spouses were unable to block their domestic distress from their work performance.

"If you feel bad at home, there is going to be spillover at work where you will also feel lousy," Foo said. "Going into the study we thought that marital support might help alleviate the stress of unemployment on the family unit, but it didn't turn out to be the case." Instead, stress is added -- not only at home, but in the workplace as well.

One of the take-home messages from the study, according to Foo, is that organizations need to be more sensitive and supportive when their employees have family members -- particularly a spouse -- who is unemployed.

"Organizations can implement family-friendly policies to help their employees fulfill their family roles, which in turn may increase the employee's productivity," he said. However, in difficult economic times, many organizations may elect to limit some services for their employees, such as couples counseling, due to their cost.

"Couples counseling may fall into the category of company cutbacks now because programs such as these usually don't affect the bottom line until some time down the road," Foo said.

This is all just one more reason that families, especially couples, need to pull together even more when one member suffers an employment loss. It's also a reminder to employers that money spent on benefits like couples counseling can definitely pay off in the long run.


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