Read The Relationship between Family Economic Distress and Absenteeism and Turnover (Work in Progress) text version


Work In Progress Tish Matuszek, Troy State University, Troy E. Fran Smith, Troy State University, Troy ABSTRACT The family is the most fundamental organization. While current research indicates that there is interaction between the family and the workplace, it has not yet determined the nature of the relationship between these two organizational systems. This paper establishes a theoretical framework to examine spillover from family economic distress into the workplace. INTRODUCTION There has long been an implicit assumption within organizations that the organizational "being" began at the front door of the organization. That is, the employee operated separately as an organizational member and as a family member. However, recent literature (Jackson, Zedeck, & Summers, 1985; Kessler & McRae, 1982; Liou, Sylvia, & Brunk, 1990; Staines, Pottick, & Fudge, 1986; Zedeck & Mosier, 1990) has begun to change this view by emphasizing the effect of spillover from work to home and home to work. Quick, Paulus, Whittington, Larey, and Nelson (1996) encourage organizations to recognize the importance of a balanced life for managers by emphasizing the interrelatedness of the various domains of life, including work and home. They stress the positive impact when organizations realize their influence on home life. This interaction between work and home is of particular importance in this paper. Historically, family and work have been studied as separate entities connected only by their common member. However, recent research indicates that this is a very limited perspective that should be remedied through future research. That is one purpose of this paper. Research has thus far only determined that there is bi-directional spillover between work and home (Jackson et al., 1985, Winkler, Dougherty, & Page, 1994; Zedeck & Mosier). However, research has not specifically addressed which family variables influence work outcomes, nor has it specified what the outcomes might be. Family economic distress is likely to have some impact at work, because of its broad impact on family members. First, "distress" connotes a poor outcome and one that is likely to be stressful for all concerned. Second, a basic assumption of this paper is that many families experience some level of economic distress (Church, 1994). Winkler, et al. (1994) use financial well-being as a measure of a family's coping resources, suggesting its profound affect on family well-being. Third, this paper addresses the question, "How do family experiences affect work experiences?" Economic distress is framed as a family variable, because economic status is not perceived as an individual factor. Rather, it is a shared experience. If one family member is poor, all are poor. Conversely, if one family member is rich, all are rich. One would not expect to find different socioeconomic status family members residing in the same household.

Problem Statement Virtually all models of work/family conflict consider only the effect on the individual, rather than the family unit. Zedeck and Mosier (1990) implicitly accept the work/family interface when they address the idea that some companies may be fully committed to helping employees lead satisfying lives. Companies with this perspective realize the impact of work on the home. Zedeck and Mosier further emphasize the need for researchers to expand their approach to this area by trying to understand the relationships between the family and the workplace, not the individual and the organization. This paper evolves from work by Lazarus and Folkman (1984) and others (Quick et al., 1996), which focuses on viewing the two environments (work and family) as part of a whole. They are conjoined, rather than separate entities that have little common ground. The family is framed as an organization of equal importance with the workplace. The need to consider this approach in research is exemplified by Kessler and McRae (1982) when they conclude that although wives' work has a positive relationship with their mental health, husbands' mental health declines when wives begin to work outside the home. Similarly, Staines et al. (1986) found wives' employment to be negatively associated with husbands' job satisfaction. This suggests the need for research that does not separate the individual from the individual's overall environment; thus, the conjoined model. Further, this line of research will be of particular interest to organizations that are interested in helping employees to lead full lives, thus indirectly benefiting the organization (Nelson, Quick, Eakin, & Matuszek, 1995). Kantor (1977) emphasizes how knowledge about the work system or family system can facilitate research on the individual's adjustment to the other system. Relatively few Americans have effectively adjusted to the rapid changes of the 1980s in the marketplace for labor. Recent articles in popular literature detail the impact of downsizing and restructuring on American workers and their families (Church, 1994). The worker/earner is a part of two systems that affect each other through the worker/earner. When one part of a system is threatened, other parts are also affected. This crossover effect has implications for both work and home. One domain for studying the effects of spillover is the effect of family economic distress. Further, Rice, Near, and Hunt (1980) contend that there are compelling arguments for extending the research to include both work variables (e.g. job satisfaction) and non-work variables (e.g. family economic distress). Figure 1 illustrates a systems perspective of family economic distress and organizational outcomes. The family, which is defined as family members who reside in the same household, varies by its size, life cycle stage, number of earners, and wage levels. The organization is defined as the workplace of the worker/earners. The feedback loop to the family carries information about the family's employment and financial status. The feedback loop to the organization carries information about how the employee will react as a member of an economically distressed family. The individual provides the linkage between the two systems, and is itself another system. The bi-directional arrow between the family and the organization indicates the flow of resources between the systems. Finally, the three smaller, conjoined systems work within the larger system of the societal economy. All systems are open, thus resources flow both in and out from all other systems, as indicated by the bi-directional arrows connecting all systems. It is a dynamic model that emphasizes the importance of the family


Family Individual


Figure 1. Systems perspective of family economic distress and organizational outcomes.

Job Satisfaction O rganizational Outcomes: Counterproductive Behavior, Tu over rn &Absenteeism

Fam ily EconomicDistress

O rganizational C m itm o m ent

Job Alternatives

FIGURE 2. Proposed model of the relationship between family economic distress and organizational outcomes.

within the organization as well as the overall economy. Use of the systems perspective allows us to approach the problem in a manner suggested by Zedeck & Mosier (1990), in which they called for the unit of analysis to be expanded to the family. This approach also called for a framework that would allow smaller perspectives such as spillover and compensation to be studied simultaneously. THE PROPOSED MODEL Literature Review Figure 2 illustrates the model of the relationship between family economic distress and organizational outcomes. The relationship is mediated by job satisfaction and organizational commitment. Absenteeism, turnover, and counterproductive behaviors are the organizational outcomes that result from spillover of family economic distress into the workplace. The relationship between family economic distress and organizational outcomes is moderated by perceived job alternatives. Family Economic Distress While economic distress is not new to many Americans, it is taking on enhanced importance due to the changing nature of the workplace. Voydanoff (1991) emphasizes that as a domain for research, family economic distress is very novel and encompasses an interdisciplinary body of research. As noted earlier, economic status affects the entire family unit, making economic distress a term that is applicable to the family as a system rather than the individuals that compose the family. Although all members of a family generally share resources, this study assumes that each family member receives an equal share. This assumption may not be applicable to all families. Further, there is some evidence that events in the life of the individual have a significant effect on the family (Sleek, 1994). Vanfossen (1986) found that financial difficulties become emotionally charged problems for husbands and wives. Family economic distress as defined by Voydanoff (1991) is a multidimensional concept composed of four factors: 1) economic instability, 2) employment uncertainty, 3) economic deprivation, and 4) economic strain. Economic instability includes several dimensions of employment other than the fluctuating levels of unemployment, seen recently as changes through downsizing and restructuring in the workplace. Voydanoff argues that unemployment figures underestimate the problem. For example, she notes that the average monthly unemployment rate for 1986 was 7%. However, 16% of individuals reported some unemployment for the year. Additionally, unemployment figures do not capture discouraged workers, involuntary part-time workers, or the underemployed. Preliminary (unseasonalized) figures released for October 2001 (Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2001, November) showed an unemployment rate of 5% versus 3.6% for October 2000 with unemployment figures being greatest for blacks and for those with less than a high school diploma. The number of employed workers includes both part-time and underemployed persons. Persons employed part-time for economic reasons such as business conditions or inability to find full-time employment increased by approximately 1.1 million. The number of discouraged workers increased by approximately 100,000 over this same time period. Unemployment data were computed from the Current Population Survey, which is a conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Voydanoff (1991) also argues that individual unemployment figures obscure family unemployment patterns, thus not recognizing the impact of unemployment within the family. She further notes that forced early retirement, teen unemployment, and downward mobility are also important dimensions of employment instability. Economic instability may also include perceptions of general economic health of the society. For example, one is more likely to perceive and to experience greater opportunities for financial development during a societal growth period rather than during a societal economic depression. Proposition 1: Family economic distress will increase as organizational and societal levels of unemployment increase. Proposition 2: Family economic distress will increase as discouraged workers, involuntary part-time workers, and underemployed workers compose a greater proportion of the family. Employment uncertainty is defined as an individual's assessment of prospects for future employment. This assessment can be changed by perceptions of availability of work or perceptions of one's capability to perform the available work. Karasek and Theorell (1991) found, as did Voydanoff (1991), that unemployment is related to increased strain in the individual. Karasek and Theorell also found that the remaining workers may also suffer deleterious effects of unemployment, such as impaired mental health and decreased immune function. This suggests that unemployment has serious repercussions for all worker/earners in the family. A systems perspective of unemployment further suggests that all members of the family will be affected by any individual's unemployment. Proposition 3: Unemployment of primary worker/earners will result in increased family distress, and primarily, economic distress. One component of economic uncertainty is alternative job opportunities. Gerhart (1990) found that intention to stay was related not only to job satisfaction but also to perceived ease of movement. Further, he found that the interaction between satisfaction and perceived ease of movement was consistent with Mobley, Griffeth, Hand, and Meglino's (1979) model, such that when employees perceive high ease of movement job dissatisfaction is more likely to result in intentions to leave. Proposition 4: Family economic distress will decrease as worker/earners perceive greater numbers of job alternatives. The economic uncertainty component of family economic distress allows structural factors such as business cycles and labor markets to be included in models of withdrawal behaviors, e.g. absenteeism and turnover. Another factor that may be important to perceptions of economic uncertainty is the individual's tolerance for ambiguity. Frone (1990) used metaanalysis to determine that intolerance of ambiguity is positively associated with higher measures of strain. That is, an individual with a high intolerance for ambiguity will suffer more distress in uncertain times. Similarly, it has been shown that project managers working in uncertain conditions suffer more psychological distress and burnout (Bodensteiner, Gerloff, & Quick, 1989). A family's tolerance for ambiguity may be determined by tolerance for ambiguity displayed by the family leader(s). Further, sex may also be a factor in determining

unemployment levels, because women who are employed in clerical or service positions are less likely than men to be laid off, while women in blue collar positions are more likely than men to be laid off (Kramer, 1991). While black women are more likely to take higher paying blue-collar jobs than white women, they may also be more likely to be laid off than men (Padavic, 1991), introducing not only sex but race as another factor to be considered in economic uncertainty. These findings suggest that simply having some level of uncertainty about employment prospects will exacerbate distress levels within the family, relative to the number of worker/earners. Sex and race of primary earners may be important factors in determining levels of economic distress, vis a vis unemployment levels. Proposition 5: Family economic distress will be positively associated with downward business cycles. As societal economic recession increases, family economic distress increases. Proposition 6: Families with a high tolerance for ambiguity will suffer less economic distress. Proposition 7: Race will interact with family type to determine family economic distress. Family type is defined by the worker/earners of the family. Different types of families include mother-only, traditional single earner, dual earner, father-only, and dual career families. The categorizations address not only the number of worker/earners but also the differing nature of each, so there is no assumption that all families will be affected similarly. For example, one could expect very different levels of economic distress between mother-only families and dual career families. Following this, one could expect very different outcomes from each type of family. Economic deprivation addresses the family's ability to meet financial needs. This component specifically addresses the objective income level that is required to maintain the household. Voydanoff (1991) includes the family life cycle as a major predictor of economic deprivation, suggesting that as the family matures there will be a greater need for financial resources until children leave to set up their own households. However, the cyclical nature of this premise may be jeopardized by the large numbers of adult children who have either returned to live with parents as a result of personal economic deprivation or in part are supported by their parents in a separate household. This premise may also be jeopardized by the number of families having to provide care for aged parents, resulting in increased financial outlay and/or decreased disposable income directly related to one of the worker/earners having to leave the workforce to provide at home care. Economic deprivation also includes the loss of resources associated with employment instability. George and Brief (1990) found pay satisfaction to be associated with higher life satisfaction, particularly for individuals who had higher financial requirements. Their results reiterate the impact of work's economic instrumentality. Proposition 8a: Family economic distress will be inversely associated with pay satisfaction. Proposition 8b: Pay satisfaction will be positively associated with job commitment.

Economic strain is a subjective evaluation of family financial status. Objective measures of economic deprivation determine whether the family has the financial resources to survive for a specified period of time. Continuing more than a decade in downward trend in personal saving, in the last quarter of 1998 the NIPA (National Income and Products Account) personal saving rate calculated as a percentage of disposable income decreased to 0% (Larkins, 2001, November 19th). According to Larkins this reduction in saving rate could be expected "in light of the large gains in household wealth, the steady growth in income, and the high levels of consumer sentiment" (p. 1). Also to be expected with the current downturn in the economy, the saving rate increased from 0.8% to 3.8% from third quarter 2000 to third quarter 2001 (Bureau of Economic Analysis, 2001, November 19th.) Perceptual measures of economic strain determine whether the family has the resources required to maintain a standard of living that will minimize life stress. Voydanoff (1991) describes economic strain as "an evaluation of current financial status such as perceived financial adequacy, financial concerns and worries, adjustments to changes in one's financial situation, and one's projected financial situation" (p. 434). Implicit within this definition is an evaluation of future employment. For example, the family may not only have to determine whether survival expenses (e.g. food, housing, and clothing) can be covered, but also whether other expenses are covered. Athletic shoes for a 10-year-old may not be necessary for survival, but may serve to alleviate distress for both parent and child. Faced with not being able to provide a pair of athletic shoes for a child, the parents are likely to experience distress that is directly caused by their economic position. The resulting distress is expected to impact the parents' attitudes in the workplace. Proposition 9: Family economic distress will be positively associated with perceptions of economic strain. Although each member of the family is influenced by economic distress they may experience different levels of influence and perceive different levels of effect on family wellbeing. Fox and Chancey (1998) found that both employment uncertainty and job instability, measured as current unemployment or forced retirement or previous unemployment during the past 3 years, were important to the individual well-being of men as well as women, but that the level of importance was higher for women. However, perceived economic well-being was a greater predictor of individual well-being for both genders. For both men and women, family well-being was also strongly influenced by economic well-being. Spouse/partner job variables were also important to family well-being. Economic distress varies between families based on the number of earners, size of family, family life cycle, job alternatives, and wage levels. A family is less likely to become distressed if it has more than one wage earner, is employed in a growth industry, is very small, or enjoys high wage levels or more job alternatives (Voydanoff, 1991). This suggests that motheronly families may be more likely to suffer economic distress than other families because of the relatively limited resources available. There are fewer high wage earners, fewer alternative positions, and lower wage levels for the primary worker/earner. Proposition 10: Mother-only families are more likely to suffer economic distress than other types of families.

As a family becomes more economically distressed, the worker/earner is more likely to become distressed. The worker/earner is continuously confronted with the prospect of working a full shift or longer and still not being able to accomplish what needs to be accomplished with the available resources, thus reducing perceptions of control. This may cause the worker/earner to question perceptions of self-worth and adequacy, as well as instilling a constant underlying fear about future prospects. The distressed worker/earner is likely to display physiological, psychological, and behavioral anomalies (Quick et al., 1995). Proposition 11: Family economic distress will be positively associated with increased job distress. There is evidence that distress in one family member impacts the entire family (Sleek, 1994). Recognizing the effects of spillover between home and work through the worker/earner, the implications for management become clear. As family economic distress increases, the worker/earner is expected to become less satisfied with the job and more likely to develop intentions to quit. Greller, Parsons, and Mitchell (1992) concluded that, "An unrewarding, personally draining home life would be associated with greater strain regardless of what occurred on the job" (p. 44). Every family has a responsibility to obtain economic resources as a means for sustaining the family members. However, there may be structural obstacles that impede the acquisition of adequate resources, e.g. downsizing. Structural obstacles are out of the control of family members, and therefore are potential stressors for family members. Another purpose of this paper is to establish a theoretical basis for future studies that examine the spillover affects of family economic distress on job commitment and job satisfaction. Both job commitment and job satisfaction are predictors of absenteeism and turnover in organizations. Turnover and absenteeism represent major costs to employers. An exploratory study is suggested to determine if future research is warranted. Job commitment addresses whether the employee has developed some level of attachment to the job, as portrayed by feelings of loyalty and intention to stay in the organization. Job satisfaction is defined as a sense of liking for the job and results in an intention to stay, thereby decreasing turnover and absenteeism. Another purpose of this paper is to try to determine if mother-only families might suffer more economic distress than other families. Future research would need to consider the relative effects of single earner families, father only families, dual earner families, and dual career families. Job Alternatives Perceived job alternatives moderate the relationship between family economic distress and job attitudes. Cohen's (1993) meta-analysis concluded that older employees may report low commitment but remain with the organization because of structural bonds, limited alternatives, and security needs. Sheppard, Hartwick, & Warshaw (1988) indicate that choice may dramatically change the intention (to stay or leave) formation process and the subsequent translation into staying or leaving behaviors. The work/nonwork literature may also be relevant to the consideration of job alternatives. Kabanoff (1980) presents a review of work/nonwork studies, and explains that work is spatially and socially distinct from other systems that generate

roles for the individual. The other role generating systems include family, religion, politics, and education. He considers not only the conclusions presented by each study but also the methodologies. Kornhauser (as cited in Kabanoff) concludes that some people are oriented more toward nonwork than work, so that improving work design may not improve life quality or organizational performance. Conversely, this suggests that a nonwork oriented individual might enjoy increased life quality and organizational performance through improved quality of nonwork. Another study from Kornhauser (1965) also had particularly relevant results. It found that mental health varied consistently with the level of job held. The higher (defined as skills and variety) the job, the better the average mental health. This finding would seem to have important implications for employers with many deskilled jobs, suggesting that deskilled jobs may negatively impact mental health. Another interesting proposition is posited by London, Crandall, and Seals (1977) who suggest that the relationship between work and nonwork is curvilinear, with highly satisfied or highly dissatisfied people extending their on-the-job feelings into nonwork. Some people may compensate for unsatisfying work while others may generalize into nonwork. Having the ability to generalize into nonwork and compensate for unsatisfying work could be considered a job alternative, because there is a reasonable compensation for dissatisfying work. Job Satisfaction, Absenteeism, and Turnover Job Satisfaction. Scott and Taylor (1985) used meta-analysis to strengthen the evidence for a relationship between job satisfaction and absenteeism. Their findings concluded that the strongest relationships were between absenteeism and the work itself, frequency of absenteeism and coworker satisfaction, and frequency of absenteeism and overall satisfaction. They argued that findings supported Vroom's notion of frequency being more highly associated with satisfaction than duration, and pointed out that duration is less likely to be under the control of the employee. Frequency is the number of absences independent of each other while duration is the length of each absence. Farrell and Stamm (1988) used meta-analysis to conclude that organizational and work environment factors were more consistent in predicting absenteeism than psychological factors. While this analysis did not rule out the effects of psychological factors, it does suggest the level of importance of structural as well as psychological factors in the occurrence of absenteeism. This would further suggest the validity of using employment instability, which addresses the structural components of employment, as a component of economic distress. However, psychological states are not unimportant in determining the reasons for absenteeism. Positive moods have been found to be negatively associated with absenteeism (George, 1989). George found personality traits influence moods at work. For example, a person who is high in positive affectivity, signified by activity, elation, and enthusiasm, can be expected to experience more positive moods while a person high in negative affectivity, signified by distress, fear, and nervousness, can be expected to experience more negative moods. Absence and turnover may be ways of controlling the perceived distress associated with negative moods. Steers and Rhodes' (1978) review of the literature led them to conclude that absenteeism results from factors that are personal as well as organizational. They further concluded that feedback from attendance influences subsequent perceptions of the situation as well as motivation and pressure to be present. The feedback loop in their model suggests a circular model. This perspective suggests that family economic distress may act as a motivator to attend work. The attendance may interfere with finding alternative work that might relieve some of the economic distress, thereby leading to greater overall distress.

Steers and Rhodes (1978) also note that some variables affect attendance directly while others affect attendance indirectly. Jackson, et al. (1985) studied family interactions with 2 correlates of shift work: 1) interference between job and family roles caused by structural conditions and; 2) emotional interference, which is the employee's emotional reaction to work and nonwork. Emotional interference theories suggest that negative job-induced emotions can be carried into the home, thus affecting home life. The correlates were suggested by theoretical approaches to understanding the relationship between stress and family experiences. Their findings showed that having a spouse whose work schedule was dissimilar and commuting time were structural conditions related to dissatisfaction. Emotional interference was correlated to employee's dissatisfaction with job/family congruence, spouse-reported quality of family life, and spouse's dissatisfaction with the shift worker's job. Other findings replicated past research relating job dissatisfaction to intention to leave. Absenteeism. Dwyer and Ganster (1991) tested the job demands-job control model proposed by Karasek (1979) and found that as control decreased, tardiness and sick days increased. Psychological demands were found to have little impact on attendance relative to the impact of job demands. Scott and Taylor (1985) used meta-analysis to strengthen the evidence of a positive relationship between job satisfaction and absenteeism, particularly when considering frequency of absenteeism. Markham and Fox (1990) further supported the correlation between frequency and absenteeism by showing that employees who leave an organization are more likely to be absent in the six months prior to the termination of employment. Conlon and Stone (1992) reported similar results. Contextual factors such as social norms and absence cultures in organizations have also been found to account for additional variance in absence studies (Mathieu & Kohler, 1990). If the family is also considered as an organization, this suggests that family norms may also influence the levels of absenteeism. Further, absence may be a source of information by which managers make attributions about an individual, such as level of job satisfaction, level of commitment, and amount of employee control over the absence (Is the absence voluntary or involuntary?) (Conlon & Stone, 1992). This will, in turn, effect managerial decisions about performance appraisals or job assignments (Conlon & Stone), which could be expected to further influence the employee's level of satisfaction and commitment. An employee whose family is economically distressed could be expected to suffer increased levels of job strain and distress, resulting in lower outcomes for the individual and the organization than could be expected from similar stressors. Conlon and Stone also found that a manager is more likely to make causal inferences about the absence if the employee fits the manager's employee types. For example, the term absence-prone carries within it a particular cognitive image. If the employee does not fit the image, the manager is less likely to categorize the employee as absence-prone, even if it is a reliable description. Karasek and Theorell (1991) found that employee well-being was clearly related to absenteeism and job satisfaction, with illness being the major cause of absenteeism and family responsibilities being a less frequent reason for absence. Dalton & Todor (1993) contend that absenteeism and turnover are interdependent phenomena that can be altered by intraorganizational policy. They further contend that absenteeism by senior employees is far more expensive than absenteeism by new or lower level employees. Therefore, family economic distress of senior employees is likely to cost the company a great deal more than that of lower level employees, further suggesting the need to consider the implications of family variables. While family economic distress is stereotypically portrayed as a problem for lower income families, higher income families may also be subject to this malady. For example, many upper

level managers have been expected to maintain a lifestyle that was in "keeping with their position." This often included such expenses as a home in the "right" neighborhood or sending children to prestigious schools. However, the very jobs, and subsequent salaries, that once required these expenses may no longer exist after downsizing. The employee is left with a sizable expense and lowered or nonexistent income to cover the expense. Turnover. McEvoy and Cascio (1985) used meta-analysis to determine strategies for reducing employee turnover. They found realistic job previews only half as effective as job enrichment at reducing turnover. While both realistic job previews and job enrichment address the issue of job satisfaction, one could expect job enrichment to be more important, because realistic job previews are likely to deter candidates who might be less satisfied with the job from accepting the job. Further, McEvoy and Cascio comment on the dichotomy between voluntary and involuntary turnover. The present paper contends that family economic distress may play itself out within the organization in such a way that involuntary turnover results. For example, the distressed employee may exhibit behaviors that are the direct result of economic distress (petty theft) that result in termination of employment. Similarly, an employee may be working more than one job to help reduce economic distress. However, working a second job may interfere with performance in the first job, so the employee is terminated or has lower outcomes from the first job. However, job commitment may be increased. For example, if an employee perceives fewer alternatives, the employee will be less likely to jeopardize the economic standing of the family any further. This would result in an employee clinging to a position although it is no longer satisfying or involving (Cohen, 1993). Family economic distress may result in a forced fit between the person and workplace, thus leaving the employee in the untenable position of truly disliking a job but having little recourse. In their model of voluntary turnover, Lee and Mitchell (1994) base the model on the premise that employees have/do not have alternatives, and the existence of alternatives is the antecedent of the decision to leave. According to their model, employees will consider alternatives if economic distress threatens the status quo. The Lee and Mitchell model assumes that dissatisfaction leads to turnover. However, family economic distress may lead to increased job commitment in spite of lack of satisfaction. For example, a person who is a mechanic may suffer a high level of dissatisfaction with being a mechanic. It is hard, dirty, often inconsistent work. However, the status of the economy and, consequently, the family may cause the mechanic to refuse to address felt dissatisfaction by looking for another position. Family economic status may preclude returning to school to update skills or jeopardizing the present job to look for another, particularly if it is perceived that there is little likelihood of finding a better position. An equivalent position will not reduce family economic distress. Proposition 12: Family economic distress will not result in turnover in the absence of better alternatives. Better alternatives are those with increased employment opportunity and stability or increased financial reward. Lee and Mitchell comment on how the daily routine can shield a person from alternatives. Again, Cohen (1993) concluded that older employees may report low commitment but remain with the organization because of structural bonds, limited alternatives, and security needs.

Organizational Commitment Allen and Meyer (1990) have found job commitment to be composed of three components: 1) affect, which refers to attachment and involvement with the organization; 2) continuance, which refers to perceived costs of leaving the organization; and 3) normative, which refers to perceived obligations to the organization. This definition was supported by research from Dunham, Grube, and Castanada (1994) who also noted that affective and normative commitment have been associated with commitment behavior while continuance commitment has shown no such association. These findings indicate the importance of feelings of attachment and loyalty to the organization. Job commitment has been found to be a moderator of the relationship between job satisfaction and job displeasure which includes measures of job dissatisfaction, intention to quit, and work related irritation (Begley & Czajka, 1993) as well as being associated with decreased absenteeism, tardiness, and turnover (Mowday, Steers, & Porter, 1979). Randall (1990) suggests that commitment may be higher among those who involuntarily turnover while commitment may be lower among those who voluntarily turnover. This suggests that families who have alternatives may be more likely to have lower commitment and, consequently, higher job turnover. Cohen (1993) also acknowledges the effect of job alternatives in the relationship between turnover and commitment, suggesting job alternatives as a mediator in the relationship. Proposition 13: Job alternatives moderate the relationship between family economic distress and commitment, indirectly affecting turnover. Being a member of an economically distressed family will lead to decreased job commitment for the worker/earner as job alternatives increase. Counterproductive Behavior Another organizational outcome that needs to be considered in addition to absenteeism and turnover is counterproductive behavior. Hulin (1991) advocates using a general adaptation construct that enhances understanding of withdrawal behaviors, such as sabotage, absenteeism, and turnover. Jones and Boye (1992) further this idea by examining counterproductivity as an extension of the job stress-employee theft relationship. They emphasize the impact of perceived stress on counterproductive behavior and note the increase in employee counterproductivity in the United States. Counterproductivity includes but is not limited to theft, alcohol misuse, sabotage, on the job violence, emotional outbursts, illegitimate time use, and illegitimate absenteeism. Morgenstern (cited by Jones & Boye) suggested that 30% of business failures were the result of theft and dishonesty. It becomes clear that the cost may be much higher when all counterproductivity is considered. Porter and Steers (1973) concluded that low pay caused withdrawal behaviors that were triggered by perceptions of inequity, suggesting another link between family economic distress and counterproductive behavior. Families with lower wage levels or less employment stability may be more likely to develop perceptions of systemic inequities. Proposition 14: Family economic distress will be positively associated with perceptions of systemic inequities.

IMPLICATIONS The role of social support in reducing distress should be considered, because both the workplace and the family provide a means for reducing perceived stress. Cooke and Rousseau (1984) studied the contradictory models of role theory and social support on strain. However, their underlying premise that multiple roles serve to reduce strain has since been restructured somewhat. Another literature review reveals the role of social support in reducing strain to be equivocal (Quick, Nelson, Matuszek, Whittington, and Quick, 1995). Multiple roles do not necessarily translate into social support. They simply present more opportunities for social support to take place. Cooke and Rousseau also found that the presence of a spouse and children was related to physical well-being, but note that it is possible that the suggested causal direction is the opposite of their assumption that good health might lead to marriage and child rearing rather than marriage and child rearing leading to good health, a recurring theme in the stress literature. Further, these researchers found that family roles operate differently on strain with family roles both inducing and reducing physical symptoms. This study reiterates that stress and the resulting distress is the result of a set of complex interactions. Similarly, one can expect family economic distress to be involved with the workplace through a complex set of interactions involving the worker/earner. Zedeck and Mosier (1990) consider the issues involved with balancing work and family. These researchers approach the issue of balance as if there is no "one right way" (or theory, as the case may be.) After presenting the prevailing theories, they continue by noting deficiencies in the literature (e.g. the use of macro variables that only consider the experience itself rather than the nature of the experience). They note a variety of ways that the family impacts the organization but do not note how the organization impacts the family. This is an important oversight at a time when there are increasing expectations for organizations to become more sensitive to the needs of employees. For example, they do not consider how families are influenced by organizations that require that employees work weekends to keep their jobs. One could expect the negative impact from such a policy to rebound on the organization. After reviewing a number of ways that an organization might supplement family needs, they ask the question "Who is responsible for balancing work and family responsibilities?" It seems pretty easy to say that organizations carry a large responsibility, but that certainly overlooks the obvious responsibility of the worker/earner. Could it be that the individuals who actively accept the responsibility to balance organizational demands with home demands are the individuals that we perceive as successful, particularly when success is measured in some way other than absolute dollars? These authors concluded that the responsibility was to be shared by the individual and the organization. But, the organization has the responsibility to make it possible to share. The organization cannot expect employees to be proactive in seeking positive outcomes if the organization does not support such activities as individual development. Zedeck and Mosier (1990) further note women's part in shouldering most of the burden for dual earner roles as well as responsibilities for single parent families. However, their suggestions of flex-time, part-time, job sharing, and child care do not relieve women of the economic distress as well as physical distress that is central to many of their lives. If companies really want to help women reduce their stress levels they can find ways for women to be gainfully employed and still have clean clothes and cooked meals. A truly forward thinking company would provide laundry service and carryout dinner at a reasonable price. Then women would begin to be released from the responsibilities of having two full time jobs.

Limitations While this theory seeks to expand management and family research through integration, it cannot be expected to fit all families. For example, the assumption that families live in a single household may serve to make the theory ethnocentric. Research about black families in the U.S. indicates that they are much more likely than white families to rely on the extended family for financial support (Coontz, 1992). This suggests that the definition of family in this study may be too restrictive to capture the essence of all family dynamics. There is also evidence that types and numbers of family coping mechanisms should influence work outcomes (Winkler, Dougherty, & Page, 1994). However, this is beyond the scope of the present work, but should be considered as an avenue for future research. CONCLUSION This paper presents a systems model representing the relationship between family economic distress and organizational outcomes. It conceptualizes the family and workplace as interactive systems within the larger system of a societal economic environment. This model suggests that the family is a fundamental organization and that its impact on the workplace is profound. Further, this model suggests that specific family variables can be shown as important predictors of workplace outcomes. The model indicates that job satisfaction and job commitment may not be necessary prerequisites for commitment behavior to take place. Finally, it suggests that some families are more likely than others to suffer economic distress and the associated outcomes. However, the dimensions along which variation occurs are the foundation for a complex set of interactions that will require much research to be fully understandable. Economic distress is only one family variable that has serious implications for management in terms of compensation, benefits, work design and redesign, stress management, restructuring and downsizing, as well as meeting community expectations for being a "family friendly" environment.

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