Do Positive Affectivity and Boundary Preferences Matter for Work–Family Enrichment? A Study of Human Service Workers

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Abstract

More individuals than ever are managing work and family roles, but relatively little research has been done exploring whether boundary preferences help individuals benefit from multiple role memberships. Drawing on Greenhaus and Powell's (2006) work–family enrichment theory, along with Boundary Theory (Ashforth, Kreiner, & Fugate, 2000) and Conservation of Resources Theory (Hobfoll, 2002), we explore the impact of personal characteristics as enablers of work–family enrichment, and in turn, work outcomes relevant to human service workers: turnover intentions and emotional exhaustion. In a 2-wave study of 161 human service employees, we found that individuals high in positive affectivity were more likely to experience both work-to-family and family to-work enrichment, whereas those with preferences toward integration were more likely to experience work-to-family enrichment (but not family to-work enrichment). In turn, work-to-family enrichment (but not family to-work enrichment) was related to lower turnover intentions and emotional exhaustion. Enrichment served as a mediating mechanism for only some of the hypothesized relationships. Implications for theory and practice are discussed.

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