Managing the Harmful Effects of Unsupportive Organizations During Pregnancy

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Unfortunately, not all organizations are supportive of employees’ family lives. Family unsupportive workplaces can be stressful for all employees and particularly for pregnant women, who carry a physical reminder of their family life. In the present study, we draw on conservation of resources (COR) theory (Hobfoll, 1989, 2001) to investigate how women manage family unsupportive organizational perceptions during pregnancy via social identity-based impression management behaviors as well as how these strategies relate to changes in stress and changes in conflict between work and family. Specifically, we find that image maintenance strategies—impression management strategies aimed at maintaining one’s prepregnancy image—are associated with decreases in work stress and work—family conflict over the course of pregnancy, while decategorization—impression management strategies aimed at avoiding negative outcomes by hiding the pregnancy or dodging the issue—are related to increases in work–family conflict. These results suggest strategies for both organizations and pregnant workers to decrease stress during a time when health is vital for both mother and baby.

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