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Chapter 7

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SCIENTIFIC FOUNDATION

Threat to Reputation with One's Supervisor

The premise of this study is that job stressors that threaten an employee's reputation with his or her supervisor are likely to be the source of stress and anxiety for the employee, both at work and at home. Employees characterize threats to reputation as situations that combine the potential for personal loss, negativity, threat to self-esteem, and control by powerful others. Thirty-six raters, primarily working accountants, judged eight job stressors as high or low on threat to reputation. Job stressors rated as high on threat were lack of feedback, training inadequacy, role overload, and role ambiguity. Job stressors rated as low on threat were lack of control, lack of meaningfulness, high interdependency, and role conflict.

Independently, 102 staff accountants rated their exposure to these eight job stressors and how damaging each job stressor might be to their immediate supervisor's view of their competence and dependability (i.e., reputation). In addition, the 102 accountants completed Spielberger's state anxiety measure twice, once for their work environment and once for their home. The findings indicated that work and home anxiety were related, suggesting a work-to-home carryover of anxiety. Work and home anxiety were both significantly correlated with the high-threat job stressors, but not with the low-threat job stressors. Further, work anxiety appeared to mediate the high-threat job stressor to home anxiety relationship, with anxiety at home being highest in the presence of high-threat job stressors and high anxiety at work.

SOURCE: V. J. Doby and R. D. Caplan, "Organizational Stress as Threat to Reputation: Effects on Anxiety at Work and at Home," Academy of Management Journal 38 (1995): 1105-1123.


SCIENTIFIC FOUNDATION

Tension Between Work and Family

Jim Clark was the primary founder of Silicon Graphics in 1982. Rocky Rhodes, a co-founder and chief engineer, found at the age of 41 that he had lots of options. One of these options in 1994 was to help Jim Clark with another start-up: Netscape Communications. Rocky Rhodes passed on that opportunity. Why?

Rhode's life began changing in 1987 when his first of three children, Dustin, was born. While his wife Diane quit her job as a product manager at Apple Computer, Rocky's life became a constant struggle between his work life, which had been nearly all-consuming until then, and his blossoming family life. In the midst of this struggle, in the late 1980s, the Rhodes wrote out the four priorities they agreed were most important in their lives. These were God, family, exercise, and work . . . in that order.

Rocky then examined how he actually spent his time and found that he did not devote time in accordance with his priorities; work seemed to come first. His life was sort of upside down. So he really did turn his life upside down, to live in accord with the priorities he and his wife agreed upon. He is a work-in-progress, attempting to adjust his work life around God, family, and exercise. Working at home during 1992, after the birth of his third child, was not too successful. Going to a part-time work schedule at Silicon Graphics in 1995 helped him achieve a better integration of his work and family life domains. However, there may be no final solution to the tension between work and family.

SOURCE: S. Shellenbarger, "Work & Family," Wall Street Journal, January 31, 1996, B1. Reprinted with permission of The Wall Street Journal, 1996 Dow Jones & Company, All Rights Reserved.


ORGANIZATIONAL REALITY

Sabbaticals: Leave the Stress at Work

Wells Fargo & Co. offers a Personal Growth Leave (PGL) sabbatical for employees in good standing for more than 10 years. Xerox Corp. launched an ambitious Social Service Leave sabbatical program in 1971.

The Wells Fargo sabbatical program is designed to give employees an opportunity for a combination of rest, relaxation, and personal growth. PGLs are up to three months, with full pay and benefits, in which employees may pursue personal interests. The employee must have a history of commitment to the personal interest for which they take the leave. Leaving their job stress behind for the sabbatical, Wells Fargo employees are able to invest in their own development outside the work environment.

The Xerox leave program has a different focus, designed for their more socially conscious employees. Xerox employees are allowed to take off up to one year, with full salary, while they work for an organization of their choosing. Employees must develop a project for submission to a special committee of cross-functional and cross-divisional employees for approval. Religious and political activities are excluded from consideration at Xerox.

Learning from Xerox's example, Wells Fargo developed their own Social Service Leave program and, for example, had a branch manager work for six months with the American Women's Economic Development Corp. The branch manager developed training program components for women and a book about obtaining loans.

SOURCE: C. J. Bachler, "Workers Take Leave of Job Stress," Personnel Journal (January 1995): 38-48.



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