How Flexibility and Control Affect Stress in the Work-Family Interface: A National Longitudinal Study of Canadian Workers

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 15:50
Oral Presentation
Philip BADAWY, University of Toronto, Canada
Scott SCHIEMAN, University of Toronto, Canada
The ability to control when and where we work is a coveted job resource that can help workers fit their multifaceted lives together easier. Much scholarship reveals that through its link to flexibility, workers with schedule control may be better able to achieve a more harmonious fit between their work and non-work roles. Yet, schedule control’s actual functions as a “resource” are not entirely understood, especially its potential negative consequences for our well-being in the work-family interface. As the stress of higher status perspective suggests, schedule control may be accompanied by excessive job demands and greater expectations that workers will fully devote themselves to work even when they are at home, potentially undermining its utility as a resource. This paper scrutinizes the assumed flexibility benefits of schedule control when workers find themselves in high pressured overwork contexts. Most research on schedule control and the work-family interface has been cross-sectional and tentative regarding causal inferences. While longitudinal studies exist, they have either been done outside of a North American context governed by different overarching expectations about work, or they have utilized group-randomized trials in an experimental design but have been confined to a single organization. Within a fixed-effects framework, the present study tests and elaborates on both Job Demands-Resources and border/boundary theories by moving beyond analyses of between-worker differences to focus explicitly on within-individual changes over time. This approach helps address bias from dispositional attributes or unobserved value orientations that might be influential. We analyze four waves of data from the Canadian Work, Stress, and Health Study (CAN-WSH), a large national sample of working Canadians from 2011 (wave 1), 2013 (wave 2), 2015 (wave 3), and 2017 (wave 4). Preliminary analyses suggest that while increases in schedule control alleviate work-family conflict, there are potential downsides to this resource within particular contexts.