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Increasing the positives, reducing the negatives: Organizational factors that promote positive spill-over and reduce work-family conflict

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-24, 18:17 authored by Sarah DawkinsSarah Dawkins, Angela MartinAngela Martin, Fiona CockerFiona Cocker

Objectives/Aims: Traditionally, research concerning the interface between work and family has focused on the negative relationship between work and family (e.g. work family conflict). More recently, research has emphasised the advantages of combining work and family roles, largely due to positive cross-domain influence between roles in work and family life (e.g. positive spillover). However, while research efforts have tended to concentrate on mitigating the impact of family responsibilities on work behaviour, less attention has been given to how working conditions can reduce the negative influence of work on family, or even promote positive spillover. Therefore, this study aims to investigate how factors such as organisational support and boundary control management relate to experiences of conflict and positive spillover between work and family.

Methodology: Participants were recruited using a research panel (Qualtrics). Participants were invited via email to complete a single online survey. Data was collected from 417 participants (52.6% male) employed across a cross-section of industries in Australia. All participants worked a minimum of 20 hours per week and had at least one dependent child living in their household. Data was collected in relation to Work-Family Conflict (WFC), Family-Work Conflict (FWC), Positive Work-Family Spill-over (W-FPS), Positive Family-Work Spillover (F-WPS), Boundary Management and Organisational Support Factors. Cofounding variables were also analysed, including family and carer responsibilities and socio-demographic/economic characteristics.

Findings: A series of univariate and multivariate analyses were conducted. The final models tested explained 45% and 47% of the variance in positive W-FPS and F-WPS (respectively); and 51% and 48% of the variance in WFC and FWC conflict (respectively). The results showed that while gender and marital status did not significantly predict conflict or positive spillover; age and education were significant predictors of both positive spillover and conflict in both directions (e.g. W-F and F-W). Family responsibilities were also significant predictors of both conflict and positive spillover. Surprisingly, these factors contributed to both the experience of conflict and positive spillover in both directions (e.g. W-F and F-W). Regarding boundary control factors, our results showed that boundary management control was a significant predictor of W-FPS, but had little effect on WFC or FWC. Regarding organisational support factors, family supportive organisation perceptions and family support supervisor behaviours were found to be significant predictors of both conflict and positive spillover in both directions.

Limitations & Conclusions: Although the study draws on cross-sectional, self-report data, it provides a detailed examination into the experiences of W-F and F-W conflict and positive spillover among working Australian parents. Our results suggest that conflict and positive spillover are not necessarily bipolar opposite experiences, but rather distinct, yet related experiences that can have an influence in both directions (W-F and F-W). Moreover, our results emphasise the need for organisations to go beyond policy implementation of support measures (e.g. flexible work arrangements). Ensuring that these support measures are endorsed and encouraged by management and supervisors appears critical in reducing WFC and FWC and promoting positive spillover between work and family.


Publication title

Asia Pacific Academy for Psychosocial Factors at Work: Macro to Micro Perspectives on Healthy Vital Work in the Asia Pacific




Asia Pacific Academy for Psychosocial Factors at Work

Place of publication

Auckland, NZ

Event title

Asia Pacific Academy for Psychosocial Factors at Work: Macro to Micro Perspectives on Healthy Vital Work in the Asia Pacific

Event Venue

Massey University

Date of Event (Start Date)


Date of Event (End Date)


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  • Restricted

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Expanding knowledge in commerce, management, tourism and services

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