Supervisor off-work boundary infringements: Perspective-taking as a resource for after-hours intrusions

Jacob McCartney, Jennifer Franczak, Katerina Gonzalez, Angela T. Hall, Wayne A. Hochwarter, Samantha L. Jordan, Wajda Wikhamn, Abdul Karim Khan, Mayowa T. Babalola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Constant connectivity is prevalent in modern workplaces, aided by smartphones and email. Supervisors may further pressure their subordinates to remain connected to work through their after-hours communications. We develop the concept of supervisor off-work boundary infringements (SBI) or supervisor intrusions during subordinates’ nonwork hours, which are becoming widespread due to expectations of immediate accessibility. Through the conservation of resources theory lens, we explore whether these unnecessary intrusions by supervisors increase subordinate strain outcomes (i.e. job tension and depressed mood at work). We also examine the role of perspective-taking, a cognitive resource deployed as a coping strategy that allows individuals to understand the viewpoint of others, which in turn facilitates changes in one’s attitudes and behaviours. Specifically, we propose that employee perspective-taking can lessen the adverse effects of SBI. Across a four-study constructive replication, we find evidence that SBI positively relates to job tension and a depressed mood at work. Heightened levels of perspective-taking attenuated this relationship. Our study presents evidence that individuals who engage in perspective-taking can protect themselves by buffering the adverse effects of SBI. Importantly, we advocate for corporate policies and laws that protect workers from SBI and encourage supervisors to cease such infringements on their employees.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)373-396
Number of pages24
JournalWork and Stress
Volume37
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Perspective-taking
  • conservation of resources theory
  • supervisor-subordinate interactions
  • work-life boundaries

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology

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