Do bad bosses ruin things at home?

The Globe and Mail

The black comedy Horrible Bosses got one thing right: bad bosses can screw up your life – even when you’re not on the job.

Abusive supervision at work contributes to family conflict, according to a study published in the journal Personnel Psychology.

Baylor University researchers found that people who work for tyrants had more tension in their relationships and lower satisfaction with their family lives than people with more reasonable bosses. Meanwhile, their partners experienced lower-than-average “family functioning,” Jezebel reports.

Story continues below ad

Finally, there’s a study to prove what the spouses of beleaguered employees already know.

People with mean bosses are more likely to fight or feel irritated or resentful toward a spouse or partner, researchers found. The study suggests that recipients of unreasonable treatment on the job – such as put-downs or angry outbursts – take it out on the ones they love.

“It may be that as supervisor abuse heightens tension in the relationship, the employee is less motivated or able to engage in positive interactions with the partner and other family members,” said study researcher Merideth Ferguson, assistant professor of management and entrepreneurship at Baylor.

The study involved a matched set of 280 employees and their partners, with an average age of 36 and an average relationship length of 10 years.

Interestingly, abusive supervision wasn’t linked to an increased chance of divorce. And researchers found that longer marriages helped to insulate couples against the effects of an intolerable boss.

But there’s no doubt that job stress takes its toll. An earlier study done by sociologist Scott Schieman at the University of Toronto found that half of employees reported that their work interfered with their home lives. The survey of 1,800 U.S. workers cited conflicts with colleagues, job insecurity and high-pressure situations as causes for the stress at home.

Workers who just can’t take it any more may want to consult Robert Sutton’s The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t.

Otherwise, there’s solace to be had in watching The Office. Judging by its extended run – eight seasons and counting for the U.S. version – misery loves company.

Has a horrible boss affected your home life? If so, what did you do about it?

Follow on Twitter: @AdrianaBarton