2019-08-13T17:05:44Z (GMT) by Christina L. Collins
Scholars have characterized as “extreme” the intersection of work and family in military service (MacDermid Wadsworth & Southwell, 2011) and periods of deployment involve further stress for partners of military members (e.g. Not having enough personal time, having too many responsibilities at home, changing marital roles, and parenting hassles) that may make managing both work and family life more difficult (Chandra et al., 2011). Research with partners of deployed service members has focused primarily on mental health (Donoho et al., 2018; Mansfield et al., 2010) as well as parenting and household responsibilities (Chandra et al., 2011), but less is known about partners’ employment related outcomes. In the current study, both role strain and role enhancement processes were tested over time in a sample of employed partners of deployed Army National Guard Members (GMs) and a comparison group composed of partners of non-deploying GMs. In accordance with theories of work-family conflict (Greenhaus & Beutell, 1985) and resource drain theory (Rothbard, 2001), a model utilizing two waves of data was tested; household challenges experienced by at-home partners were hypothesized to be related to more negative family-to-work spillover, and ultimately associated with less job engagement and more depressive symptoms. In addition theories of work-family facilitation (Grzywacz & Butler, 2005) and work-family enrichment (Greenhaus & Powell, 2006) were utilized to test whether family strengths (e.g. effective family functioning and military spouse role satisfaction) in the face of deployment were associated with positive FTW spillover, and ultimately with more job engagement and fewer depressive symptoms. Results revealed that household challenges were related to more negative family-to-work spillover, more depressive symptoms, and less job engagement. Effective family functioning was related to more positive FTW spillover, which was related to more job engagement. Results were consistent across the deploying and non-deploying group with the following exception: in the deploying group only, negative FTW spillover was associated with more depressive symptoms. The current study has implications for the field of work and family research, employers, and military family service providers. First, the current study provided evidence of cross-domain work-family conflict and work-family enrichment in a sample of partners of National Guard members. Second, the study highlighted numerous consequences for employees facing significant household challenges. The role of household challenges in employees’ lives may have implications for how employers should structure workplace culture and the employee supports they offer. Finally, only partners of deployed GMs experienced more depressive symptoms associated with negative FTW conflict. Military family service providers may use that information to better serve partners of deploying service members who are at risk of mental health concerns during deployment.