With a little help from my (her) friends: The role of friend support on the negative effects of work engagement for married couples
In this study, we examine an employee’s personal social support received from friends and how it may benefit not only that employee, but also her or his spouse. By examining this unique source of support, we contribute to our understanding of the work-family interface and how this might differ for husbands and wives. Using social support resource theory as a theoretical framework, we theorize that social support from friends insulates employees from the resource depletion related to high work engagement that contributes to emotional exhaustion and depression through its effects on work-to-family conflict. Integrating insights from crossover theory, we also predict that a spouse’s resource depletion will be reduced in strength when the focal employee enjoys stronger social support from friends. The results of a study of 176 dual-earner married couples across two time periods supported our predictions that personal social support from friends diminished experienced conflict; however, wives’ social support from friends played a moderating role for men while this effect did not hold for women, suggesting that these processes operate differently for men and women when we consider them as a married couple and examine the crossover of spouse’s social support from friends. We conclude by discussing implications of these results for theory and practice.