Psychology study reveals causes of work, family stress

woman with blue blouse, outside

RachelW.jpgPeople in same-sex relationships can face considerable angst when deciding whether to disclose their sexual orientation at work, and that anxiety can affect their home life as well, according to a new University of Georgia study.

The study, "Bringing home what I'm hiding at work: The impact of sexual orientation disclosure at work for same-sex couples," was published in the Journal of Vocational Behavior as part of a special issue on LGBT issues in the workplace.

"Hiding your sexual orientation can be thought of as a demand of the job, in that you're having to hide it and devise strategies, from using different pronouns, not mentioning your spouse, or not including your spouse in work-related parties or other functions," said Rachel Williamson, doctoral candidate in industrial-organizational psychology and first author on the article.

The research team collected responses from 89 couples at two time periods to describe the work-family conflict. The stressors for employees, their partners and the partners' workplace is a dynamic described as spillover/crossover effects.

"The efforts required to hide sexual orientation from a supervisor impact the partner's family satisfaction," said Williamson. "The partner being less satisfied at home explains why the partner is in turn experiencing this family interference with their work."

Great new work from Dr. Clark and soon-to-be Dr. Williamson (pictured here). There are so many dynamics that are taken for granted in the workplace, and a healthier, productive work environment for all means becoming more aware of the challenges people may face. While it is surprising that there were few such studies in existence prior to this one, the new paper creates some excellent new questions to build on as we strive to make society better.