Bringing Home Stress From Work

Topic(s): stress, work-life balance, workplace deviance
Publication: Personnel Psychology
Article: The Fallout from Abusive Supervision: An Examination of Subordinates and Their Partners
Authors: D.S. Carson, M. Ferguson, P.L. Perrewé, D. Whitten
Reviewed by: Katie Bachman

New research has shown that bad bosses can mess up home relationships. Employees with an emotionally abusive supervisor (one that gets mad for no reason or belittles people in front of others), can end up taking that stress home with them in the form of work-family conflict. To make matters worse, that conflict can also affect the spouse or significant other and make them tense. This can naturally make it more difficult for the couple to stay together in the long run.

Bottom line: an abusive supervisor isn’t just a pain at work for the employees – instead, they end up taking that negativity home with them, which hurts their families. The authors of this article say that organizations and human resource departments should do what they can to stamp out abusive supervision. Beyond that, the best strategy for employees may be to try to keep work and home stress separated. There’s no quick fix for this problem, but perhaps just knowing that bad supervision spills over into family life can help people to avoid passing on the negativity.


Carson, D. S., Ferguson, M., Perrewé, P. L., & Whitten, D. (2011). The fallout from abusive supervision: An examination of subordinates and their partners. Personnel Psychology, 64, 937-961.

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