Work-life Stress in an Online World
Your smart phone buzzes at a critical moment during your son’s school play. Your new promotion came with a raise and more prestige and authority, but you’re not enjoying it as much as you thought you would. You are encountering more pressures at work, sleeping a little less soundly and feeling a bit too rushed for time.
Dr. Scott Schieman, Canada Research Chair in the Social Contexts of Health, has long been interested in how stress creeps up in the intersection between home and work. He is now asking and answering questions about the complex relationships between job status, family roles, stress and health in the Internet era.
Schieman is using data from a survey of 6,000 workers as part of a long-term effort to follow a population for a decade and beyond. He will test and advance theories that describe the social and health consequences of the blurring boundaries between work and home.
Consider the example of job authority. Previous research suggests that many people seek out jobs that give them authority. However, evidence suggests that job authority doesn’t actually benefit health. Schieman will investigate this paradox by testing whether the stressors of a job with lots of authority—like more pressures, interpersonal conflict and work-family conflict—outweigh the rewards and create a net negative effect on health. He calls this “the stress of higher status.” Schieman is also interested in uncovering how gender, age, race and social class make a difference in the complex dance between stress and health.
Schieman’s research will yield practical information for workers, employers and policy-makers who seek to improve health and reduce work-life stress.