The old adage of not bringing your work troubles home with you has even more significance according to a new study by a leading Griffith researcher.
Professor of Organisational Psychology at Griffith University Professor Paula Brough has found workplace stress was being transferred from one partner to another at home, with around half of the participants reporting it had significantly impacted their relationship.
“Our research found transferred stress is very real and does occur and affects couples with our without children” Professor Brough said.
Psychologists call the phenomenon ‘stress contagion’.
16 couples, who all had full-time careers, were involved in the study which has been published in the Australian Journal of Psychology.
The outcome was part of a larger study which looked at how employees managed stress levels with the aim of tackling workplace bullying.
“That can be in the work environment, from your boss to you or vice versa, if you have a difficult co-worker then their issues can cause you stress and impact your performance,”
“We are aware that some stress comes from the family or outside the work environment but we were looking specifically at what proportion of work stress comes from the partner, so transferred across.
The research found enough cases showing when the work stressor was large enough it was communicated to their spouse.
This would then affect their partner’s level of health and well-being when they went to work, Professor Brough explained.
The findings highlight the importance of work-life-balance policies to ensure the workplace is psychologically healthy.
“Good workplaces understand the need to support their workers at different life transitions – whether that be with a new born or an ill relative,” Professor Brough said.