Workers who focus on family given fewer career opportunities

April 10, 2007

Hamilton, ON. April 10, 2007 -- People who let family demands interfere with work are given fewer career opportunities and have poorer relationships with their bosses, a study from McMaster University's DeGroote School of Business finds.

In a survey of Canadian public sector employees, workers who say home and family impact their work also believe they are offered fewer challenges and opportunities for skill development and career advancement.

"While there has been a particular interest in the adverse impact of work demands on home and family, we know less about the impact of home and family on work," says Rick Hackett, Canada Research Chair in Organizational Behaviour and Human Performance at the DeGroote School of Business.

"Employees experiencing the greatest pull from home and family tend to have fewer mental and physical resources to devote to their paid jobs, which results in declining work performance. In turn, this lowered performance makes it less likely that their bosses will provide them with challenging tasks or career building opportunities."

The McMaster study, published in Applied Psychology, also suggests that the adverse effects of home and family can be exacerbated by a downward spiraling process. When employees are given less challenging tasks, they have fewer opportunities to show their capabilities, thereby not winning the respect and confidence of their bosses. This further reduces the likelihood of the boss entrusting these workers with challenging assignments.

"Workers whose mental and physical resources are being especially consumed by home and family demands need to lessen these demands or learn coping strategies. At the same time, employers can assist their employees by providing family-friendly benefits, such as subsidized couple and family counseling, on-site childcare, and subsidized elder care," says Hackett.
McMaster University, a world-renowned, research-intensive university, fosters a culture of innovation, and a commitment to discovery and learning in teaching, research and scholarship. Based in Hamilton, the University, one of only four Canadian universities to be listed on the Top 100 universities in the world, has a student population of more than 23,000, and an alumni population of more than 115,000 in 128 countries.

A print quality photograph of Rick Hackett is available at

Television Editors - Live interviews with Rick Hackett can be arranged using the DeGroote School of Business' broadcast studio. Call Julia Thomson at 905-525-9140 ext. 27436 to schedule airtime and book a live feed from campus.


Rick Hackett
DeGroote School of Business
McMaster University
905-525-9140 ext. 23958

McMaster University

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