work ruining home life

Study: bosses who bully can impact the whole family.

Do you spend your Sundays dreading what the next day will bring? Do you wake on weekday mornings in a panic? If so, your job isn’t just impacting on your mental and physical health – it’s changing the way you relate to your family, too.

Proving what the families of stressed workers may already suspect, a recent study from Baylor University, published in the Journal Personnel Psychology, found that stress and tension caused by an abusive boss can filter through to relationships at home.

We spend so much time at work, so if work is unpleasant it will affect our mood, and can make us irritable and intolerant when we get home. 

Author of the study, Professor of Management Dr Dawn Carlson, says, "Our study showed how the [employee] carries that over to the family through greater work-family conflict, and by experiencing more relationship tension with the spouse. As a result this harms the family as the [employee] is more tense and less able to engage fully in the family life."

Clinical psychologist Jo Lamble says the findings come as no surprise.

"We spend so much time at work, so if work is unpleasant it will affect our mood, and can make us irritable and intolerant when we get home," she says.

"Many people who work for a bad boss will feel the need to vent about it when they come home, which can become very tiring for the family who start wishing you would talk about anything else."

Toxic bosses who bully their staff members can also create serious health problems for their staff. Lamble says she sees many patients suffering as a result of supervisor workplace bullying.

"They're showing all the signs of stress including sleep difficulties, irritability, poor concentration and decision making, drug and alcohol abuse (to self-medicate), loss of confidence and anger," she says.

The responsibility for fixing the problem lies with the organization, according to Dr Carlson.

"The implications are for individuals and organisations to realise that abusive supervision has far reaching effects beyond just the [employer]. This compels organisations to do something to put a stop to this kind of abusive behavior from occurring," she says.

Jo Lamble agrees but adds, "What amazes me is how often I hear stories of an employee complaining about a boss bullying them and HR saying 'Yes, we have heard this from other people too' or 'We have had a lot of trouble with this particular manager'."

"Organisations need to take action if many complaints are being made about the same person. They have a duty of care to protect their employees from workplace bullying.

"Often, if the manager or boss is given a warning early enough, their behaviour improves. But sometimes, the bullying is condoned because there is a general culture of bullying from the top down," she says.