Workplace conﬂict and employee well-being
The moderating role of detachment from work during off-job time Sabine Sonnentag and Dana Unger
Department of Psychology, University of Mannheim, Mannheim, Germany, and
¨ Inga J. Nagel
Department of Psychology, University of Konstanz, Konstanz, Germany Abstract
Purpose – The purpose of this study is to address the relation between task and relationship conﬂicts at work and employee well-being. It seeks to examine psychological detachment from work during off-job time as a moderator in the relation between conﬂicts and well-being. Design/methodology/approach – In a ﬁeld study, 291 white-collar employees completed survey measures of task conﬂicts, relationship conﬂicts, psychological detachment from work during off-job time, and well-being. Control variables included workload and job control. Findings – Hierarchical regression analyses indicated that employees experiencing high levels of task conﬂicts and high levels of relationship conﬂicts report poorer well-being. As predicted, psychological detachment from work mitigated the negative relation between relationship conﬂicts and well-being. Contrary to expectations, psychological detachment failed to moderate the relation between task conﬂicts and well-being. Practical implications – The study suggests that employees should be encouraged to disengage mentally from work during leisure time. Originality/value – This study links research on workplace conﬂicts with research on recovery processes. It tests the moderator effect of psychological detachment from work on the association between workplace conﬂicts and well-being. Keywords Task conﬂicts, Relationship conﬂicts, Well-being, Psychological detachment, Conﬂict management, Employees, Germany Paper type Research paper
International Journal of Conﬂict Management Vol. 24 No. 2, 2013 pp. 166-183 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 1044-4068 DOI 10.1108/10444061311316780
Workplace conﬂicts are a widespread phenomenon in organisational life. Empirical research has shown that employees who experience workplace conﬂicts suffer from strain symptoms (De Dreu et al., 2004) such as depression (Spector and Jex, 1998), burnout (Richardson et al., 1992), and somatic complaints (Frone, 2000). Thus, workplace conﬂicts may constitute a serious threat to employees’ well-being. Despite this empirical evidence, crucial questions remain unanswered. First, most studies on the association between workplace conﬂicts and well-being used rather general measures of conﬂict and did not differentiate task conﬂicts and relationship conﬂicts. Thus, until now we know only very little about the speciﬁc relations between task versus relationship conﬂicts on the one hand and employee well-being on the other The authors would like to thank Anne-Grit Albrecht and Alexander Pundt for helpful comments on an earlier version of this paper.
hand (De Dreu et al., 2004). This paucity of research is unfortunate, because the use of overall conﬂict measures may mask differences in the patterns for task versus relationship conﬂicts. The differentiation between task and relationship conﬂict has been proved useful with respect to, for instance, teamwork processes (Gamero et al., 2008). Second, it remains largely unanswered whether these assumed associations between workplace conﬂicts and impaired well-being hold for all employees and under all circumstances. There is ﬁrst evidence that personality is a moderator in the relation between workplace conﬂicts and employee well-being (Dijkstra et al., 2005a, b; Spector and Bruk-Lee, 2008). However, other moderators, particularly moderators that are more malleable, remain largely unexplored (De Dreu and Beersma, 2005). In this paper, we focus on psychological detachment from work during non-work time as a potential moderator (Sonnentag and...