Rapidly changing working conditions (e.g., global competition, high pace of innovation) stimulate employees to work harder and put more energy into work than before. Heavy work investment is characterized as a strong focus on the task at hand and a high level of dedication to work [1
]. A broad literature on heavy work investment has studied the effects on one’s own and one partner’s well-being [2
]. However, heavy work investment may also affect the well-being of one’s children [7
Mental health problems are responsible for 8.5% of disability-adjusted life years among children aged 5–9 years old [8
]. Raising a child with emotional and behavioral problems increases strain on parents [9
]. If the parents have a paid job, they may also experience difficulties in the work domain (e.g., work-family imbalance) [10
]. In light of increasing mental health problems among children in recent decades [11
], more attention should be paid to the influence of parents’ heavy work investment on their children’s emotional and behavioral problems.
In the current study among Japanese couples, we will examine how parents’ heavy work investment is associated with their child’s emotional and behavioral problems. Linking the literature on work-family and positive psychology, we uncover the underlying mechanisms of how work attitudes of parents are associated with their child’s well-being using the Spillover-Crossover model (SCM) [12
]. Following the distinction between different types of heavy work investment [14
], we examine whether the two different types of heavy work investment—workaholism and work engagement—have antagonistic relationships with a child’s well-being. In addition, by using the data from dual-earner couples, we explore whether both parents influence their child’s well-being in similar ways.
In this way our study contributes to the literature on SCM by contrasting antagonistic relationships of two forms of heavy work investment with family life. Our study also contributes to the literature on child’s well-being by uncovering how heavy parental work investment is related to the child’s well-being both in a favorable and detrimental way.
1.1. The Spillover-Crossover Model
The SCM presents the two different ways in which experiences are carried over from the work to the family domain. Spillover is a within-person, across-domains transmission of demands and consequent strain from the work domain to the nonwork domain. This process is also called work-to-family conflict, referring to the interference of work with private life [6
]. In contrast, crossover involves transmission across individuals, whereby demands and their consequent strain cross over between closely related persons [15
]. The Spillover-Crossover model integrates both approaches. In her theoretical analyses, Westman [15
] includes workaholism as a personal characteristic that may influence the crossover process. Previous studies revealed the spillover-crossover process from one partner’s workaholism to the other partner’s well-being through family-to-work conflict [3
], relationship satisfaction [17
], and family satisfaction [6
Although previous work-family studies mainly focused on negative spillover, research has clearly indicated that positive spillover is also possible. Work-family facilitation is defined as “the extent to which participation at work (or home) is made easier by virtue of the experiences, skills, and opportunities gained or developed at home (or work)” [18
] (p. 145). Bakker et al. [6
] showed that two types of heavy work investment, workaholism and work engagement, were negatively and positively associated with one’s own and one’s partner’s family satisfaction through work-to-family conflict and work-to-family facilitation, respectively. These findings suggest that positive crossover is also possible. The present study expands previous research with the SCM by focusing on two different types of spillover simultaneously and examining the crossover from parents to their child’s well-being in one overall SCM.
1.2. Two Types of Heavy Work Investment: Workaholism and Work Engagement
Two types of heavy work investment can be distinguished, workaholism and work engagement [14
]. Workaholism is defined as “a tendency to work excessively hard and to be obsessed with work, which manifests itself in working compulsively” [19
] (p. 204). In contrast, work engagement is defined as “a positive, fulfilling, work-related state of mind that is characterized by vigor, dedication, and absorption” [20
] (p. 74). Although both workaholism and work engagement are characterized by active and work-related states that are indicative of heavy work investment [21
], the underlying motivation for this investment differs. Workaholics are propelled by an obsessive inner drive they cannot resist, whereas engaged employees are intrinsically motivated [2
]. Put differently, workaholism is characterized by high effort with negative affect, whereas work engagement is characterized by high effort with positive affect [23
This distinctiveness is theoretically linked to obsessive versus harmonious passion [24
]. Obsessive passion results from an overcontrolled internalization of an activity into one’s identity and overwhelms one’s attention. In contrast, harmonious passion results from an autonomous internalization of an activity into one’s identity [28
]. Activity with harmonious passion occupies a meaningful—but not overwhelming—place in one’s life and remains in harmony with other aspects of a person’s life [29
The distinction between workaholism and work engagement was empirically demonstrated in terms of their relationship with various indicators of employees’ own well-being and job performance. For instance, workaholism is associated with (future) unwell-being (i.e., high ill-health and low job and family satisfaction) and poor job performance, whereas work engagement is associated with (future) well-being (i.e., low ill-health and high job and family satisfaction) and superior job performance [2
]. Bakker et al. [6
] expanded the literature by examining the influence of one’s workaholism and work engagement on the partner’s family satisfaction, suggesting crossover from one’s heavy work investment to the partner well-being. The current study further expands Bakker et al. [6
] by examining the crossover to one’s child’s well-being.
1.3. The Current Study
presents the model that will be tested in the current study.
We predict that workaholism will have a negative relationship with one’s own happiness, because workaholism increases the likelihood of work-to-family conflict. Work-to-family conflict occurs when role demands from the work domain are mutually incompatible with the role demands of the family domain leading to role strain [30
]. Consequently, work-to-family conflict will make people unhappy because they are inhibited from investing time and energy in life domains where they have an active role. Individuals feel happy when they allocate their energies among these competing demands in line with their guiding goals and values. When they experience work-family conflict, family values and work values are competing factors (e.g., professional advancement vs. family investment of time) which hinders personal happiness and fulfillment [31
]. Since workaholics invest by definition a lot of time at work leaving less time available for the family role, enhancing in this way work-to-family conflict, we predict:
Hypotheses 1 (H1).
Workaholism has a negative relationship with happiness, through work-to-family conflict.
In contrast, we predict that work engagement will have a positive relationship with one’s own happiness, because work engagement increases the likelihood of work-to-family facilitation. Inter-role facilitation can occur in an instrumental pathway through skills and opportunities for self-growth and in an affective pathway by positive affect via positive emotions and levels of energy [32
]. When these positive gains such as enhanced skills, opportunities for self-growth, and positive affect from one domain are applied, sustained and reinforced in another domain, the end result is improved system functioning or facilitation. The accumulation of resources inherent in work-to-family facilitation can result in enhanced outcomes within personal life. In this way the experience of work-to-family facilitation should enhance happiness (representing a positive affective state) [35
]. Since engaged workers, compared to workaholics, show better performance and are likely to experience positive emotions [23
], we predict:
Hypotheses 2 (H2).
Work engagement has a positive relationship with happiness, through work-to-family facilitation.
Several previous studies have supported the SCM, showing that experiences in the work domain spill over to the home domain, and, consequently, cross over to the partner. However, few studies have explicitly investigated the link between parents’ experience in the work domain and their child’s well-being. Nevertheless, we can assume the crossover link in the following three pathways.
First is parenting behavior. According to the conceptual model of Armstrong [36
], parental well-being is related to quality of parenting, which results in child well-being. Indeed, Howard Sharp et al. [37
] showed that parental distress was related to poor parenting (i.e., less warmth, more psychological control, and more problematic communication), which resulted in child’s behavioral problems. Kaiser et al. [38
] also showed that poor parental well-being (i.e., poverty) was associated with poor parenting (i.e., more psychological control), which resulted in the child’s emotional and behavioral problems. These findings suggest that parents’ poor well-being due to workaholism and work-to-family conflict is associated with their child’s emotional and behavioral problems through negative parenting behavior. Second is transmission of (positive) emotion from parents to child. According to emotional contagion theory [39
], people catch other people’s emotions through automatic mimicry of the facial expressions, vocal expressions, postures, and instrumental behaviors, and feedback of other’s emotions. When parents are happy (representing a positive emotion), their child catches this emotion and consequently the child’s well-being is improved (i.e., lowered emotional and behavioral problems). Third is family functioning. Work-to-family conflict is related to decreased social support from and increased social undermining by the partner [40
]. In addition, psychological distress caused by work-to-family conflict is related to hostile interactions and lowered marital warmth and supportiveness between the partners [41
]. When parents are happy, with low psychological distress, their relationship quality is good, and the family creates a psychologically safe place. In a psychologically safe family, a child can have secure attachment and grow and experiment without fear of punishment. On the basis of these argumentations, we predict that:
Hypotheses 3 (H3).
Parents’ workaholism has a positive relationship with their child’s emotional and behavioral problems, through work-to-family conflict and their own happiness (sequential mediation).
Finally, we expected that parents’ work engagement would have a negative indirect relationship with their child’s emotional and behavioral problems. Although few studies have explicitly investigated the favorable relationship of parents’ work engagement with their child’s well-being, we can still expect this relationship. Previous findings provide evidence for positive spillover (see [42
] for a meta-analysis), whereby positive experiences at work can lead to one’s own well-being through work-to-family facilitation. Since both positive and negative work experiences (i.e., work engagement and workaholism, respectively) crossed over to partner [6
], we can assume that positive experiences of parents are just as likely to cross over to their child as negative experiences through the three pathways mentioned above [43
]. On the basis of these argumentations, we predict that:
Hypotheses 4 (H4).
Parents’ work engagement has a negative relationship with their child’s emotional and behavioral problems, through work-to-family facilitation and their own happiness (sequential mediation).
Finally, we will explore whether the gender of the parent plays a moderating role in these relationships. Since there is insufficient evidence for differential relationships for mothers versus fathers, we do not pose specific hypotheses.