If you and your spouse are in the same line of work, a rude coworker’s behavior toward one of you has the power to make you both lose sleep, according to a new study published in the journal Occupational Health Science.
Researchers from Portland State University (PSU) and the University of Illinois surveyed 305 couples in a variety of jobs. The findings build on previous research that looks at the relationship between workplace incivility — a common stressful work event — and employee sleep in the context of dual-earner couples.
When one spouse experiences workplace incivility, he or she tends to ruminate more about work at home and can often experience insomnia symptoms, which may include having trouble falling asleep or waking up in the middle of the night, said Dr. Charlotte Fritz, the lead author of the study and associate professor of industrial and organizational psychology in PSU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
But the study went a step further examining sleep issues in the employee’s spouse and found the partner’s sleep is also affected, but only if the couple works in the same company or occupation.
“Because work-linked couples have a better idea of what’s going on in each other’s work, they can be better supporters,” Fritz said. “They probably know more about the context of the incivil act and might be more pulled into the venting or problem-solving process.”
Fritz suggests that organizations do everything in their power to create a culture of civility by imposing zero-tolerance policies or by offering civility training. But seeing as workplace incivilities aren’t completely avoidable, Fritz also recommends several strategies to help employees cope.
Some of these strategies include mentally detaching from work during non-work hours by spending time with family and friends, enjoying hobbies, or practicing meditation at work and home.
The same is true of the employee’s spouse.
“Not talking about work or not supporting your spouse is not the solution,” Fritz said. “They can talk about work, vent about it, discuss it, but then they should make an explicit attempt to unwind together and create good conditions for sleep.”
Source: Portland State University